Sunday, 26 April 2009

Earth Day: Has Environmentalism Begun to Resemble a Religion?

When the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, many people were afraid that our planet was racing towards a new ice age. A winter scene by Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1643).

Joel Kontinen

Millions of people celebrated Earth Day during the past week. The event brought together environmentalists from all over the world.

When the first Earth Day was celebrated in the USA in 1970, no one had heard about Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth or about global warming. The climate change that many believed in differed considerably from what we are told today. Many were afraid that our planet was racing towards a new ice age. Now carbon emissions are the roots of all kinds of evil and few of us have not heard about ecological footprints or measured our carbon footprint.

The Gaia Hypothesis that was originally suggested by James Lovelock has probably had a profound effect on the environmentalist movement. He taught that the Earth was a complex system in which many factors keep it in homeostasis.

Supporters of New Age ideology welcomed Gaia thinking. Environmentalism began to assume religious undertones. It seems that Mother Earth has become more important than Father God in their thinking.

Environmentalism has begun to borrow ingredients from ancient pagan religions that worshipped nature. It thus seems that there is nothing new under the sun. For instance, Heikki Hirvas, a Finnish PhD geologist, laments that climate change has become a religion. He thinks that the mainstream media is only interested in articles that lend support to global warming and ignores studies that take a critical approach to it.

Hundreds if not thousands of atmospheric scientists and historians dissent from the official UN stance of man-made global warming. They do not deny that temperatures have risen but they assume that the current climate change has primarily to do with the Sun. They suggest that we do not know enough about the natural changes in the Sun’s activity. They would remind us that the warm period of the Middle Ages was followed by the Maunder Minimum (ca.1645-1715), during which winters in northern Europe were exceptionally severe and Dutch painters depicted snowy scenes with skating people.

For instance, Larry Vardiman, a PhD geophysicist, thinks that the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide is a result of the rise in temperature and not vice versa and that the impact of humans has not been significant. Michael Crichton, the father of Jurassic Park, was also a climate skeptic.

According to Christianity, humans are responsible for taking good care of the Earth. God already gave us this mandate in Genesis and He has not repealed it. However, there is a big difference in taking care of nature and worshipping it.


Earth Day Network. History of Earth Day.

Lovelock, James E. Hands up for the Gaia hypothesis. Nature 344, 100-102 (8 March 1990).

Vardiman, Larry. 2008. Does Carbon Dioxide Drive Global Warming? Acts & Facts. 37 (10): 10.