The right-wing caricature of environmentalism inhibits action on matters of human welfare
Recommended: "Earth Worship," an article from the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report. It offers a window into environmentalism as
seen feverishly imagined by the far right. It begins:
Addison, Texas — "Environment is not about saving nature," the founder of Freedom Advocates, Michael Shaw, sternly warned an audience of antigovernment "Patriots" and far-right conspiracy theorists during a mid-July conference. "It’s about a revolutionary coup in America. [Environmentalism] is to establish global governance and abandon the principles of Natural Law." Sustainable development policies, Shaw argued, will require "a police state" and ultimately "turn America into a globally governed homeland where humans are treated as biological resources."
Shaw’s fearful call to arms against environmentalism was sucked in whole hog during the Ninth Annual Freedom 21 conference held in a Dallas-area Crowne Plaza hotel. Co-hosted by the Texas Eagle Forum, a hard-line Christian Right organization, and the anti-"New World Order" American Policy Center (APC), the three-day convergence included such right-wing heavyweights as the error-prone conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, gay- and feminist-hating Phyllis Schlafly, and the far-right Constitution Party’s presidential candidate, Chuck Baldwin.
This glimpse into the funhouse mirror is good for some laughs, but it’s more than that. These ideas about environmentalism’s character and aims are echoed in mainstream culture, albeit toned down considerably. They still form a good part of the underlying social narrative that situates "environmental issues" in our culture:
Environmentalism is a quasi-religion, devoted to nature worship and romantic primitivism; it heeds such romanticism ahead of science; it seeks to impose its values by government fiat; it is a slippery slope to global governance; it deplores humanity and seeks ultimately to reduce human numbers and living standards. In some ways these caricatures still shape the public’s perception of environmentalism.
I’m sure that’s annoying for environmentalists, but just as corrosively, what are now categorized "environmental issues" — climate, energy, water — get slotted in people’s "environmentalism" file and treated with the gentle condescension reserved for do-gooders.
Of course these issues are about human survival and well-being.