Comparative Religious Studies 101

Late last month, James Lovelock, “The godfather of global warming,” as described by the Toronto Sun “blasted greens for treating global warming like a religion:”


“It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion,” Lovelock observed. “I don’t think people have noticed that, but it’s got all the sort of terms that religions use … The greens use guilt. That just shows how religious greens are. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting (carbon dioxide) in the air.”

Right idea, but the better comparison may be with a more extreme religion. Shortly before he died of an extreme case of lead poisoning, a Washington Post headline approvingly declared. “Osama bin Laden embraces his inner Al Gore.” And now is the time we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style, to see how similar radical environmentalism and radical Islam can be:

According to several reports in the Arabic media, prominent Muslim clerics have begun to call for the demolition of Egypt’s Great Pyramids—or, in the words of Saudi Sheikh Ali bin Said al-Rabi‘i, those “symbols of paganism,” which Egypt’s Salafi party has long planned to cover with wax.    Most recently, Bahrain’s “Sheikh of Sunni Sheikhs” and President of National Unity, Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud, called on Egypt’s new president, Muhammad Morsi, to “destroy the Pyramids and accomplish what the Sahabi Amr bin al-As could not.”

— Raymond Ibrahim, “Calls to Destroy Egypt’s Great Pyramids Begin,” Front Page magazine today.

The threat of losing the Hetch Hetchy clean water and power system that serves 2.5 million Bay Area residents and businesses took a dangerous step closer to reality with supporters launching a petition drive to qualify a measure for the November ballot in San Francisco. The Bay Area Council has been a strong opponent of past efforts to eliminate Hetch Hetchy and is working with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, our members and a diverse coalition of business and community leaders to fight back the current effort. But recent polling by EMC Research shows that proponents of tearing down Hetch Hetchy can win in November unless there is a well-funded campaign to inform voters about the true intent of the measure, which is positioned under the pleasant guise of increasing water conservation. What the measure doesn’t state is that San Francisco and the Bay Area are already among the most miserly water users in the state, and that removing Hetch Hetchy would cost more than $10 billion, dramatically increase the region’s vulnerability to water shortages and drought and do away with a major source of clean energy.


“Group Seeking to Tear Down Hetch Hetchy Launches Petition Drive for November Ballot,” Bay Area Council, June 1st.

“We are against tourism. They foster debauchery.”

And soon the ancient buildings will be gone, razed by fanatics who imagine themselves saving the local people from the sin of worshipping idols.

In Timbuktu.

Ann Althouse, July 6th.

Recent popular press suggests that ‘binge flying’ constitutes a new site of behavioural addiction. We theoretically appraise and empirically support this proposition through interviews with consumers in Norway and the United Kingdom conducted in 2009. Consistent findings from across two national contexts evidence a growing negative discourse towards frequent short-haul tourist air travel and illustrate strategies of guilt suppression and denial used to span a cognitive dissonance between the short-term personal benefits of tourism and the air travel’s associated long-term consequences for climate change. Tensions between tourism consumption and changing social norms towards acceptable flying practice exemplify how this social group is beginning to (re)frame what constitutes ‘excessive’ holiday flying, despite concomitantly continuing their own frequent air travels.

“Binge flying: Behavioural addiction and climate change,” Science Direct, July 2011.

In related news, another religious cult may just be trying to disentangle itself from radical environmentalism.



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