A searing critique of environmental thought has emerged from an unlikely source.
I don’t usually pay much attention to contemporary French philosophy, but I’m looking forward immensely to the English translation of Pascal Bruckner’s recent book, The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings.
Following its release in French a year ago Bruckner found himself not quite so welcome at certain fashionable soirées. To hear Australia’s Financial Review tell it, many of his usual admirers think he’s gone off the deep end with this particular book, which unflatteringly compares environmentalism to Roman Catholic dogma.
Its introduction is titled The return of original sin. Part Two of its three sections is named Progressives against progress.
Dismissing much green thought as outright fearmongering, Bruckner is downright caustic. The Financial Review quotes him:
The dominant passion of our time is fear…We are living in a post-technological Middle Ages. Our mentality is that of the medieval peasant serf who sees maleficent forces in nature…We are living in a society which has a horror of risk and therefore is afraid of its own shadow.
In his view green thinkers are the ultimate nihilists:
They propose nothing and are opposed to everything – the car, the TGV [French high-speed train], the atom, i.e. nuclear power, petrol, coal, natural gas. At the end there is nothing left!
With respect to carbon footprints, Bruckner contributes some bracing clarity:
life cannot simply be a subtraction. It is like saying ‘the best life is the life we don’t lead’.
I am attending a funeral today for an uncle who died suddenly in his 50s. His soujourn on this planet is now over – far too soon from the perspective of those of us who cared about him.
As Bruckner makes clear, from the green point-of-view I should be celebrating my uncle’s death rather than mourning it, since there is now one less person spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with his every breath.
From the green point-of-view I should remain at home today rather than burning six hours of automobile gasoline in each direction so that I may gather with relatives and friends in order to pay last respects.
From the green point-of-view the thermostat should be turned down in the chapel where my uncle’s service will be held. We should shiver while we weep because nothing is more important than minimizing our impact on Mother Gaia. (It is winter here in Canada and in the community to which I am headed it is currently -5C.)
Bruckner has called it. Followed to its logical conclusion, green thought is uncivilized. It is inhumane.