Over the weekend, CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir wrote an open letter to his newborn son apologizing for destroying the earth, telling him there’s no meaning in the universe, and blaming the Bible for casting a “spell” that led humans to pollute the earth and destroy it. Poor kid.
Having recently become a father for the first time myself, I understand just how earth-shattering it is to hold a new baby in your arms and know that you’re responsible for her. As a Christian, I can look to the fatherhood of God as an example, and I can introduce my daughter to a rich heritage dating back millennia. I can also know that God has a plan for my little girl, even though He’ll allow her to find her own way.
Weir is struggling to provide an ounce of that meaning and heritage, and coming up empty on every level. The best he can do is condemn every single religious, ethnic, and national tradition by reducing them to “stories we tell ourselves” as humans, and warn his son about the dangerous Bible story that led humans to destroy the planet — or save it at a tremendous cost.
While the most scandalous part of Weir’s letter comes when he blames the Bible for inspiring the recklessness allegedly responsible for climate change, the nut and kernel of his nihilistic philosophy comes in this paragraph:
Along the way, EVERYTHING in our man-made world — flags and borders, money and markets, laws and religions — all of it came from the stories we tell ourselves. Some are older than others. They vary by time and place. And all of them are under constant revision.
There is a superficial plausibility to this argument. After all, the basis of most modern currency is fiat — trust — not gold. Borders are often selectively enforced. Flags change, and so do laws. But law is based on the universal human belief in morality, which is often linked to the mystery of religion. Both morality and religion are far more than mere stories. Not only are both as old as humanity itself, but there is a wilful character about them — something foreign and authoritative as if they are more revelation than reason.
Weir has cut himself off from these “stories,” claiming instead a story he suggests is more real: the devastating threat of climate change.
“The American Way of Life that I grew up with is already gone. The Goldilocks climate that allowed humanity to thrive is in the past. And nobody seems to know it yet,” Weir writes.
His story has heroes and villains, but the story can only end in tragedy.
“If we follow the warnings of science and do everything possible to spare your generation maximum pain, it will mean completely new forms of power, food, construction, transportation, economics and politics. It will mean landscapes covered in solar panels, windmills and carbon capture plantations and the kind of intimate relationship with our land and water that went the way of the hunter/gatherer,” the CNN climate correspondent predicts.
“And if we do nothing? It will mean the end of predictable growing seasons, flight schedules and supply chains, resource wars and tens of millions of climate refugees changing everything we know about borders, neighbors and strangers,” he adds.
By his lights, he has condemned his son to a life of climate dystopia or harsh mitigation. “There’s no telling which side will prevail so it’s no wonder some believe that bringing you aboard this sinking ship was selfish, immoral and hypocritical,” he writes to his son. “But if we give up on our most primal job we have as humans, haven’t we already lost?”
Ironically, the Bible also describes reproduction as the original “job” of human beings, in Genesis 1:28 — the very verse that Weir condemns for its role in fostering the reckless burning of fossil fuels that allegedly produces climate change.
Linking the coronavirus and climate change, Weir writes, “See, for decades, scientists told us that if we weren’t careful, humans would unleash an invisible enemy out of the jungle and into our lungs. But that was a story few wanted to believe. As you get older, this will be hard to understand. But we were under the spell of Genesis 1:28: to take dominion over every living thing. We had the strange urge to carve straight lines out of nature’s curves and were under the spell of a uniquely human force called ‘profit motive.'”
Weir’s decision to single out Genesis 1:28 for condemnation is interesting, especially given his view of reproduction. Here’s the passage:
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
Throughout scripture, God clarifies what this “dominion” is — it is stewardship over the earth, not carte blanche to abuse it. Yet Weir suggests its “spell” encouraged abuse. He writes about his mother who “believed the stories in a very old book with such passion, we followed her dreams from our home in Wisconsin all over the Bible Belt where the heroes were Jesus, cowboys and oilmen. So we burned gasoline for no good reason.”
According to Weir, the bill for burning fossil fuels is coming due. But is it, really? Like the threat of overpopulation direly prophesied in the 1970s, the threat of climate disaster persistently fails to occur. Climate alarmists are constantly changing their tune: first it was “Global Cooling,” then it was “Global Warming,” and now it’s just the vague threat of “climate change.” Meanwhile, U.S. carbon emissions are doing down despite President Trump pulling America out of the Paris Climate Accords.
Christians should be environmentalists, but climate change has hijacked the environmental movement. Rather than focus on concrete problems like pollution, the movement has turned to the looming specter of climate change to justify sweeping upheavals in the economy — which benefit a Climate Industrial Complex anxious to cash out and politicians ready to push another excuse to take more power.
Yet Weir has substituted the deep Christian roots for both the good of procreation and proper environmental stewardship for a nihilistic faith in climate change as the “story.” Without God, he cannot explain why having children is a “job” at all. Without God, there is no foundation for morality — only “stories” humans tell one another, with no ultimate meaning. Without God, he cannot even explain why abusing the environment is wrong. He can only lament what he steadfastly believes to be a looming climate disaster.
If a history of failed predictions is any clue, even that faith will fail him.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.