Skip to comments.Remarks to the Commonwealth Club Michael Crichton (Theme: Environmentalism is really Urban Atheism)
Posted on 12/06/2003 8:16:02 AM PST by FreedomPosterEdited on 12/15/2003 11:31:15 AM PST by Lead Moderator. [history]
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P.S. I'm a religious fundamentalist, a philosophy which he somewhat denigrates, but he still hit the ball out of the park with this speech/article.
If we don't have such a list of best posts of the year here, we should, but I'm not about to make a vanity posting.
Hi all, I'm new to the forum...so excuse me if i've posted incorrectly...
I just wanted to make the point that although Crichton advocates the abandonment of the religion of environmentalism, his vision for a return to the SCIENCE of environmentalism itself appears to take on a similar omnipotent messiah-like quality. My issue is not with the arguments he raises in relation to the need for a new framework for environmentalism, but rather with what I view as his simplistic and naive perception of science as "truth". There are respected scientists on both sides of many environmental issues who use science to argue their hypotheses...to suggest that one scientist might be more or less driven by a religious-like belief in their world view than another scientist is problematic. Throughout history science has been used and abused to a variety of disparate ends. At the end of the day, who's there to referee the process? In reality the "science" of "science" is a lot more subjective than we may like to admit.
In conclusion, i think Crichton's claim that environmental science should replace the 'religion of environmentalism' is one that relies heavily on the idea that science in its pure form is purely objective...there's an interesting parellel there with this "pure science" model and his notion of idealised nature as held in the Eden-myth of purity.
Actually, another thought occurs to me...while certainly, under the banner of "environmentalism" i beleive there are many cases that contain less hard facts and more sentimentalities there are also many cases in which well researched, intelligent and I beleive scientifically correct facts are presented (by the way, there is I believe a place for spirituality and emotion in our perception of ecology anyway)... My thought is this....does Crichton's perception of these "other views" as a religion, become a way of discrediting their alternate ideas in one big sweep of the board?
Are we simply swinging from environmental-eden-isms to scientific ones?
Well, you've certainly managed to find an old thread to resurrect. But I guess despite that, it's still "timely", given the book release.
I guess the issue I have is that the area of environmentalism seems to be heavily influenced by the "religion of environmentalism" right now, and there isn't enough "science", in Pournelle's sense of the word, meaning "something you can put in a letter to a colleague and he'll get the same results you did." Instead, there seems to be a lot of bald assertion-making.
See the article about the "hockey stick" in today's WSJ for an example.
Isn't the "religion of environmentalism" simply a term that's been coined by Crichton (or whoever) to group together a selection of views? While I understand where he's coming from - there is most certainly that element of fanaticism expressed by SOME under the very broad banner of "ENVIRONMENTALISM", however - equally so, there are SOME that express a comparable fanaticism in their greed for the holy dollar. Can't that be classed a religion too? I suppose my point is, ALL people are INTERESTED - by that I mean, have an interest, an agenda etc, in these issues...you might call the hippy a fanatical religious environmentalism, and you might call the scientist contracted by an INTERESTED corporation or collective a fanatical economically driven environmentalist. There's not a whole lot of difference in that way.
It's well known for example, that a government department who want to acheive a certain goal can contract an environmentalist who will tell them exactly what they want to hear, and prove it "scientifically" too. Another environmentalist without the same agenda, might be able to see those results and methods in a very different light. It happens all the time.... Let's not be naive.
The environment is a MULTI BILLION dollar industry...that fact alone brings a hell of a lot of people out of the woodwork and sets in motions a hell of a lot of political spin doctoring and propaganda.
I just think what Crichton is advocating is INCREDIBLY dangerous, and that is, an uncritical view of science as "truth". By his very lack of detail regarding the "politics of science" he has really missed the larger point I think. YES, some of the points he makes are true, (they are also one sided), however his conclusion is a off the mark in my opinion. What we need is not to abandon this so called 'religion of environmentalism' for science - it's to research scientific and cultural facts thoroughly and present environmental issues in a transparent way that allows us as the public (and policy makers etc) to more clearly identify stake holders, political forces, cultural and ecological impacts and the PROCESS of scientific research. It's a bigger picture and it goes WAY beyond the kind of finger pointing and then uncritical (shallow even), advocacy of "science" I feel Crichton allows his argument to degenerate into.
That's my 2 cents...