February 22, 2019

The Holy Doctrine of the Green New Deal

“To some critics, America’s founding generation adhered to a profound misconception of human nature. The Enlightenment’s attachment to secular rationality rejected mankind’s fundamental hunger for religion. Human beings need a faith, and the secular world will never truly divorce itself from dogma. There is an essential truth in that, and it may be most evident today in the forms that environmental activism takes.

It must be said at the outset that climate change is real and observable, and the consensus that human activity contributes to that change (though to what degree has not yet firmly been established) is all but unassailable. But for a certain set of activists, there is only one acceptable response to the challenge: privation. The technological innovations attributable to market forces—innovations that have led to the dramatic reduction of American carbon emissions—are dismissed, not because their contributions are not observable, but because they undermine the notion that a simpler, monastic life is the only real source of collective absolution.

Critics of the activist class’s evolving policy prescriptions are attacked as “deniers.” Those who predict catastrophic, near civilization-ending disasters resulting from unchecked climate change are deemed “prophets.” Oracles forecast “the end of the world” within our lifetimes absent the adoption of their preferred paradigm. And any critical reflections on this new eschatology, the portents of which have often proved irreparably flawed, is dismissed with fervent passion.

A faith requires its pieties, and the so-called “Green New Deal” amounts to a sacrament. To true believers, its implausibility and impracticality is not a mark against it. Just the opposite; it is an expression of zeal, an acknowledgment of the righteousness and urgency of the cause it seeks to address. Its efficacy is measured in the number willing to genuflect before it.”

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