The theology of green

Scepticism is the chastity of the intellect and should be defended and not surrendered easily, particularly in an age when green ideology has become a theology, argues Mike Moore

All eyes this week are on the Copenhagen conference of leaders and the subject of climate change.

Unnoticed, almost, was the Trade Ministers WTO meeting in Geneva last week to try and move the Doha Trade round ahead.

For once we had a ministerial meeting that successfully matched expectations.

Expectations were very low and successfully achieved.

The negotiations are tippy-toeing ahead.

The environmental implications of the Doha round are a curiously well-kept secret.

Take fishing, where more than $US30 billion ($NZ42 billion) is spent on subsidies that are energy-intensive and result in big companies from big countries being paid by their taxpayers to vacuum up the fish in an unsustainable way at the cost of small countries.

We now have almost a 300% capacity to catch fish and 75% of the world's fish population is either over-fished, significantly depleted or recovering from over-fishing.

Removing these subsidies would help poor countries and help create a sustainable future for fishing.

At the moment the diesel costs and commercial losses are often made up by governments in the EU, Japan and China.

How can the small guy compete, and this creates a situation where corruption is endemic in some poor places.

This is on the much-maligned WTO's agenda, negotiated at Doha.

In Berlin, I inadvertently reduced a young green to tears of rage when I questioned the Green commandment to "buy local" and "food miles" as a way to reduce energy costs and save the world.

This would stop Kenyan flowers being sent to Europe, which uses less energy than the unhealthy energy and fertilisers subsidies in Europe.

And it would take important jobs away from Kenya.

Trade is bad for the environment, it's capitalist greed, argued another comrade.

No-one talks of Communist greed when the worst environmental outcomes were, and are, in controlled economies.

Trade based on unsubsidised competition is about efficiency, and efficiency is another word for conservation.

There is no evidence that trade between countries is more damaging to the environment than trade within countries.

My case was not well received.

I guess faith without evidence is a definition of faith.

Then I read that a judge in Britain determined that employees can take employers to court on the grounds that they were discriminated against because of their views on climate change.

Some worthy soul was concerned that his employer was not running his business in a sustainable way and disagreed [with] his boss.

Green views will now be given the same legal protection as are religious views.

It's official - Green politics are a religion.

Next, it will be classified as a hate crime to have a different point of view.

Many countries have in place hate laws to prevent people from vilifying others because of their race or religion.

I'm not a climate denier, this is real, but I am sceptical of some of the formulas to begin to fix the problem, and some will make things worse.

Even the word "denier" is loaded: it links anyone who questions Green theology to the Holocaust and is a cheap shot.

A religion normally springs from a divine message.

Believers have a common set of symbols and practices, which are reinforced through group rituals stemming from these shared convictions.

Many religions have an apocalyptic vision of the future and strict dietary commandments - fasting and such like.

Hence, the greens need to tell you what to eat.

The young are most attracted to these visions.

Green ideology is becoming a theology and has many apostles, especially in the non-profit sector and the soft media.

Because they want to save the world, unlike sordid politicians and squalid business people, they are not held to account and given sceptical scrutiny by a gullible media.

What was silly is now becoming sinister.

Frequently school projects promote this ideology, without question.

Celebrities, dying to be taken seriously, piously posture on complex issues with simplistic sound bites for the suckers on television.

Scepticism is the chastity of the intellect and should be defended and not surrendered easily.

We need more of it, much more; however cynicism is a slow death by instalment.

I get a little nervous when assaulted by zealots, from whatever faith.

They normally have no sense of proportion or humour.

Beware of the humourless who can't see the absurdities of life and have big bang solutions.

The enemies of reason throughout history usually end up burning books, killing sparrows and building furnaces.

Even worse, they don't laugh or blush.

Man is the only species on the planet who can laugh or blush, or needs too.

Mike Moore is former Prime Minister of New Zealand, former Director General of the World Trade Organisation and author of Saving Globalisation

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