Saturday, November 11, 2006

Give us this day our daily organic loaf and forgive us our cheap flights

O YE OF LITTLE faith, who still doubt that greenery is our official pseudoreligion, or that “C of E” should now stand for the Church of the Environment! Look ye upon the results of this week’s Times/Populus poll, surveying Britons’ exaggerated claims about our ecofriendly habits, and weep! The poll found a gaping “green divide” between what people say they do to save energy, and what really happens in Britain today. So 65 per cent claim only ever to buy those dim energy-saving lightbulbs — yet these account for less than 20 per cent of bulbs sold; 76 per cent say they recycle everything possible, yet only 22 per cent of British household waste is recycled. It was a similar story with everything from flying to leaving the TV on standby.

Here we have a set of pious beliefs observed more in the breach than the observance. Remind you of anything? As with other religions, in between the sermons and prayers, believers have to get on with real life; even many Catholics use birth control these days. Thus do people feel obliged to repeat the green catechism, yet still eschew the bus and grab cheap flights. They consume, but weighed down with guilt as well as shopping bags, and a feeling that they should atone perhaps by paying extra to plant a tree.

The eco-religion has as many rituals as the old faiths, only more fashionably look-at-me. Not for the green faithful the privacy of the confessional box or the pew; we are supposed to show off our piety in the recycling box or the organic produce aisle.

What’s more, it is a state religion, backed by all parties in our eco-theocracy, soon to be able to charge a modern tithe through new green taxes. No wonder leaders of the old C of E are attracted to the new one, where calling on us to repent in the name of global warming gives them a rare moral authority. Thus the Archbishop of Canterbury has cautioned that “millions, billions” will die from climate change and a bishop told last weekend’s demo on climate change that global warming is caused by humanity playing God. For that he got a cheer from the secular zealots of the new crusade.

Unlike the old faiths, the new pseudoreligion does not even offer us the prospect of salvation in the next life. Just a miserable existence in this one, while we wait for the four horse-persons of the eco-apocalypse — pestilence, war, famine and death by boredom.


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