Faith in the Environment

Michael Chrichton made a Commonwealth Club Speech a couple of months ago on the subject of environmentalism that struck a number of chords with me. Essentially comparing environmentalism and religion, he hits a lot of the points that i wish i could, whenever the subject comes up, which is less and less these days.. (wonder why?)

At any rate, lest anyone get any funny ideas, this is not me hypocritically claiming that celebrity endorsement justifies a claimed position - i think we all know how i feel about that - but it is a good read on the subject by someone whose views map well to mine, and who is a damn sight better at wording them, for example:

> In short, the romantic view of the natural world as a blissful Eden is only
> held by people who have no actual experience of nature. People who live in
> nature are not romantic about it at all. They may hold spiritual beliefs about
> the world around them, they may have a sense of the unity of nature or the
> aliveness of all things, but they still kill the animals and uproot the plants
> in order to eat, to live. If they don't, they will die.

There's a lot of ignorance about nature in the urban world. People form their beliefs - in the "golden age of the environment", in the noble savage, in the sanctity of nature - and then, much like any other faith this belief calcifies and hardens and becomes law to them. But they still never get any real experience of the world of which they speak.

Crichton cites a lot of modern myths in his speech: The myth of secondhand smoke, the myth of the growing deserts and shrinking Antarctic icecap, the myth of runaway urbanization. And then makes the central point again: Disputing peoples' beliefs on those subjects is futile, because to them they are matters of faith, and as such unconnected to _facts_. The worst thing? He's right.

Scratch that. The worst thing? The people who believe those things, without input from facts or evidence, are the ones that agitate, lobby, and pass laws.

Via mefi.

h5. Update

I'm obliged to retract my comment on the myth of second hand smoke, since the evidence i've looked up on it has not been conclusive. It appears that the link between the SHS(Second Hand Smoke) and lung cancer is inconclusive, not non-existent. The only quibble i'm able to keep up unreservedly is that the WHO(World Health Organization) kept the study that failed to find conclusive evidence of a link under wraps instead of publicizing it. Which, again, is an example of rigidly adhering to a doctrine instead of facing up to contradictory facts. But it's not a lie, per se.

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