Folks that aren’t familiar with columnist James Lileks will be pleasantly surprised by his recent op-ed concerning Sunday’s Academy Awards and the Church of Global Warming. As published by Newhouse News Services, Lileks marvelously observed (emphasis mine throughout):
If environmentalism is the new religion, the Oscar ceremony was the High Holy Mass.
Of course, if the Academy — a remarkable name for people who paint their faces and pretend they're secret agents or royalty — were truly serious about imminent global warming, it would have asked everyone to turn off their TVs and receive the results by some low-impact Earth-friendly means, such as carrier pigeon. Perhaps such drastic measures will be used in 2008, by which time the oceans will have risen 37 feet and everyone east of Cleveland will be clustered on the roof.
How delicious. Lileks continued:
Does that seem like an extreme prediction? You're part of the problem, then. The debate is over! Stop Questioning Authority! Oh, perhaps you think it's wise to conserve and recycle; perhaps you think it's common sense to explore alternative energies. Perhaps you've come to suspect that the climate is changing. That is, after all, what climates do. You might believe all these things — and still be a heretic.
Lileks then described the tenets of this new religion:
The demands of the faith are specific and exacting. You must believe that climate change is largely the fault of man — specifically, lard-bottom Americans driving around for no reason in cars the size of Spanish galleons. You must believe the change will be catastrophic — billions will be killed when the jet stream reverses and knocks everyone over, or drowned when a ceaseless series of Katrinas backs up the Mississippi and sends tsunamis across the heartland.
You must believe that this disaster can be prevented with fluorescent light bulbs, whirring cars that run on pixy dust, methane traps strapped to the hindquarters of cows, and magic federal dollars that invent new forms of energy by virtue of being congressionally bequeathed. You must believe that ruining the American economy will somehow convince India and China to ruin their own.
Of course, like any religion, there are consequences for straying from these prescribed tenets:
Any skepticism brands you an Enemy of the State — actually, an enemy of the State of Fear, which is required to bring about far-reaching change, like a one-car-per-family limit or mandatory limo pooling at the Oscars. Skepticism makes you a flat-Earther, a Luddite, a Holocaust-denying creationist oil-company stooge who would rent the Exxon Valdez and troll the Arctic, shooting polar bears marooned on ice floes.
Only the closed-minded have an open mind, in other words. How to convince the ignoramuses?
Lileks then laid out the plan to promote this religion and its tenets across the warming planet:
Step one: an important movie. Just as "The China Syndrome" and "Silkwood'' made us all dampen our drawers over nuclear power, so "An Inconvenient Truth'' will awaken our desire for clean, carbon-free energy sources, like — well, let's move on.
Step two: a concert. It worked wonders for the anti-nuclear power movement in the '80s, so ... nevermind.
Step three: a meaningless symbolic gesture. The latest craze is the lights-out movement, in which entire cities are encouraged to turn off all the power to show they care. And then turn it back on again, of course: let's not be drastic.
Paris did it a while ago; Sydney will have a light-free "Earth Hour'' March 31st, and there will soon be a national day to shut off all computers in America. Except for banks and NORAD and hospitals and, or course, news outlets.
The empty symbolism makes people think they're doing something; the general hysteria makes more people think that nothing, really, can be done. Neither helps reasonable efforts to nudge people toward greater energy efficiency.
Lileks crescendoed to a marvelous tongue-in-cheek conclusion:
There's also a curious form of self-loathing involved in the lights-off movement, a revolutionary's hatred of the old order's glories. Once the bright lights of a city stood as a sign of civilization, a candle that cast out the night and brought the boon of Prometheus to every humble shack; now darkness is a sign of enlightenment. The sensitive soul who feels the planet's ceaseless shrieks in all his various chakras is supposed to feel relief when the lights go off, as if darkness is aloe on a burn.
Why, look at those satellite photos of North Korea at night. State control of energy usage, no industry, no cars, no messy pointless "freedom'' to hurt our one and only Mother. Seen from above, it's utterly dark.
They're years ahead of the rest of us.
Bravo, James. Author! Author!