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Samizdata quote of the day

Earth Day is a classic religious holiday: The interpretation of destructive weather as the gods’ punishment of men for the sins of Man is ancient.

Benjamin Zycher

25 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • bobby b

    I’ve always considered “Earth Day” to be an intentionally misleading concept.

    The Earth is a big round ball of rock, with a thin fungal coating and some scattered semi-intelligent bacteria on its surface. If all of that fungus and bacteria were to die off – if the outside surface of the Earth became a smoking slag pile – the Earth wouldn’t care. It would be just as happy and self-fulfilled as it is now, which is not at all because it’s a rock.

    So it truly is a religious deception. We’re supposed to be concerned about the hopes and dreams of this spiritual Mother Gaia figure – as a god of sorts – when what we’re really talking about is serving our own interests. But with that deception, we can convince ourselves that we’re serving some higher purpose, and then people who disagree with us aren’t just wrong, they’re immoral and evil.

    The sorts of people who come up with concepts such as Gaia – or original sin, or covenants with God – are the same sorts who need to feel meritorious and selfless, even when they’re really just looking out for themselves. They hide their self-interest in the command “God wants me to be happy, so make me happy as your service to God.”

  • Jacob

    It is difficult to convince religious people that their God does not exist (or that Earth is just an inanimate rock).
    Religious conflicts can be resolved only by war….

  • The concepts of Gaia, and of “Earth Day” are chiefly centered on the organic layer at and near the surface. Gaia consists of the self-regulatory behavior of the surface organisms; “Earth Day” is (at least in theory) a reminder not to do terrible things to Gaia. The rocky part is a long-term matter, what with volcanoes and subduction and erosion.

    But Earth is not just an inanimate rock. The concept of Gaia is quite valid – a great web of life exists on Earth, and we are a part of it. You don’t want to damage the Web. I’m just not sure Earth Day has much to do with it.

  • Laird

    Brilliant article.

  • Mr Ed

    You can’t really destroy ‘The Environment’, without e.g. unleashing permanently heated lava, toxic metals etc., you can only change it (with great effort) and then something new comes along and finds its nîche, and old things might find no nîche. Extinction, be it of a business or a species, can simply be an inevitable outcome of a failure to adapt, or to adapt as well as others. If there were no change, there would be no evolution, but as Ludwig von Mises points out in the first line of Socialism, ‘everything is in flux‘.

    So worshipping the Earth could only be how it is today, and never allowing for the earthquake/volcano/storm that changes the surface and leads to new perils and new opportunities, much like a free economy.

  • Pat

    Clearly Benjamin Zycher is a very naughty boy. As am I.

  • pete

    I want a carbon footprint like those of prince Charles and Al Gore.

    But I’m too poor.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Ellen: Very, very good observation. + + +

  • Thailover

    What they SHOULD be saying is that our reliance on fossil fuels keeps us from exploiting to death species like whales, etc, and that no other species are competing for ex-dinosaur sludge from deep underground, AND humanity pumping CO2 into the atmosphere is making the planet GREENER and healthier.

    But of course that goes against the religious global warming narrative, and every crypto-religion needs it’s doomsday eschatology. Every religion needs to create a narrative whereby we, without exception, are worthy of loathing and self-hatred…for the sin of existing. Guilt prompts humility, a supposed virtue, and humility keeps people controllable…and small. ‘Never mind that it’s root is the Latin Humilitatum, meaning lowliness, insignificance. Yeah, it’s a virtue to teach your children to feel insignficant, right?

    What do the propagandists…all propagandists fear? They fear us knowing our own self worth. There lies self esteem.
    …and getting off our fucking knees. ‘Can’t have that now can we?

  • Paul Marks

    The creator of the “Gaia” theory was James Lovelock – but he was always honest enough to say that the only way to make any big difference to reduce C02 emissions was lots more nuclear power stations. But that is exactly what the modern “Green” movement is AGAINST – therefore “Earth Day” is a vast fraud.

    As for other environmental matters – they can only be dealt with by PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS (again exactly what the “Greens” tend to be AGAINST).

  • Runcie Balspune

    You don’t want to damage the Web

    Yes you do.

    The “web of life” is not some delicate structure that will untangle in the slightest breeze.

    All life on Earth is here because it survives and adapts, and the more the need to adapt the stronger it will get. There were periods on Earth when there was no grass, there were times when dragonflies were the size of seagulls.

    These things happened because the Earth changed not because it stayed the same.

    You’ll ruin this if you try and make it “not change”.

  • Runcie Balspune

    And as with all religious holidays, you always need a sacrifice.

  • Thailover

    Runcie, IMO the leftists are conservative too. Their conservatism is environmental conservation, which takes the form of their thinking that anything that causes natural change is evil. Polar bear numbers are being scaled back. Oh, that must be evil, ( never mind that they’re actually increasing). Obviously, they have no comprehension of the evolution theory of Origin of Species.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Runcie, it’s perfectly possible to “not want to damage the Web” while still letting Man go about his business mostly not overly concerned about it.

    There is no reason to get into a panic about it, and especially not a moral panic, which is what the Greens and environutters are trying to keep whipped up.

    But for our own sakes, we don’t want the Web to have to bear too much in the way of pollution, for instance, of the air or the water or the soil itself. It is proper for us to be concerned about such damage (however “temporary” it may be in the Grand Scheme of things) to it as will result, directly or indirectly, to ourselves.


    Nobody said anything about “mak[ing] it ‘not change.'”


    There’s a difference between “the Gaia movement” and the sense of “Gaia” that Ellen notes. Hers is healthy and normal, though some people are more aware of it than others. But that sort of difference is also normal among humans, with regard to awareness of just about anything you can think of.

    . . .

    Changing the subj: Let’s not get carried away with our blanket generalizations. For instance, Christmas is still regarded by many as a Christian, therefore a religious, holiday; but I’m not aware of any sacrifice that is supposed to accompany it.

    Well, except wear & tear on the parents’ nerves and pocketbooks, of course, but again that’s more one the secular side….

    Still, that’s really rather humourous, in a gallows-ish sort of way, isn’t it!

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Look, Earth Day is probably the secular equivalent of a Religion, designed to replace all other belief systems. If we talk a lot about Gaia, or Mother Nature, then we have less time to talk about Father God! So I expect secularists to try to impose Earth day soon, in law.

  • bobby b

    George Carlin calls Earth Day correctly.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Just remember, Nicholas: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”

    …Cue an angry but attractive lady wearing a wreath of twigs and flowers, in an old TV ad for Parkay Margarine (“the package says margarine, but the flavor says Butter — Par-ka-ay!” if I remember right).

    Personally, I worship Mother Nature. For one thing, if I didn’t she might get mad at me. I don’t mind thunderstorms and snowstorms, but those tornadoes are something else. Besides, she’s the beloved of the Great Frog, and believe you me, you don’ wanna mess with that dude!

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    “The Great Frog’ sounds like something French! Are they trying to claim that God is French?
    God Must be Australian! God favours the underdog, and Australia is down under. We also (excepting Antarctica) have the smallest numbers of people of any continent, undersized, you might say.

  • Runcie Balspune

    But for our own sakes, we don’t want the Web to have to bear too much in the way of pollution, for instance, of the air or the water or the soil itself. It is proper for us to be concerned about such damage (however “temporary” it may be in the Grand Scheme of things) to it as will result, directly or indirectly, to ourselves.

    If I recall correctly this “web” managed to survive several large intrusions that no human induced calamity could begin compare, from massive meteors, CMEs, large scale vulcanism, etc. In fact many of these prompted even more life, not less.

    The damage from humanity comes from the denial of resources to large numbers of people, not from any ecological damages.

  • David

    Australia is down under

    Only if you accept that North is up. Being sort of round in an infinite universe it may be that what Northerners consider as “up” on Earth may in fact be on the side or even under in which case we are upover and they are downunder.


  • Mr Ed

    Australia is down under

    Only if you accept that North is up.

    Yeah, right. If it wasn’t for gravity, you lot would all fall off the Earth, whereas up here, we’d just float away upwards.

  • Greg

    Got a problem in the environment? Go beyond the environment! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3m5qxZm_JqM

  • Thailover

    An interesting claim/theory by Patrick Moore, one of the founding members of Greenpeace, that our co2 emissions actually SAVED all life on earth.

    Patrick Moore talkes with Stefan Molyneux on youtube. A one hour entertaining interview.

  • Runcie, humans are part of the Web – part of Gaia. Gaia has survived a lot – even the Permian extinction. (The one that got the dinosaurs was small change by comparison.) The Web will survive without us. But I’m rather fond of the way things are now, so let’s not damage the parts that let us live. I like the way Thailover put it: our reliance on oil means we don’t need to bother the whales for whale-oil.

    Julie – thanks!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Since I was born and brought up in England, I spent my formative years in a land with great beauty and a rich ecology which is almost entirely man-made. The natural ecology of England was uninterrupted and rather boring forest. Humans replaced the forest with an artificial landscape of grassland and moorland, fields and farms, with a much richer variety of plant and animal species. Quite recently, only about a thousand years ago, we introduced rabbits, a non-native species which had a profound effect on the ecology. Rabbits opened glades in the forest where flowering plants now flourish. There is no wilderness in England, and yet there is plenty of room for wild-flowers and birds and butterflies as well as a high density of humans.

    –Freeman Dyson, 8/7/07 [U.S. I assume]


    P.S. Whole thing is interesting.


    H/T: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/04/22/earth-day-should-celebrate-engines-and-electricity/