Since the beginning of time, Man needed to believe in something greater to cope and come to terms with the reality of the physical world. Traditional religions, and even the polytheist religions of the past, created various myths as a way to explain the world around them. For Christianity and Judaism, the myths take form in the biblical stories, starting with the creation of Earth and the universe to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In Islam, the myths come in the Quoran and the Hadiths. In the same sense, the green movement created myths to make sense of their world and therefore give meaning and therefore longevity to their view of the world.
As part of the environmentalist view of the world, man is serving Mother Nature. One aspect of the service to Mother Nature, man must abandon energy sources such as gas, fracking and nuclear and use wind, solar and water. Idea being is sacrifice of comfort to the possibility of pollution. Pollution is a sin as it hurts Mother Nature and anything that hurts Mother Nature must be banned. This is a reasoning behind the movement that sought to ban hunting. As pollution is a sin, the movement defined the sources of sin. Coal was the first sin with its impact on the planet through acid rain. Later, nuclear became sinful as a result from the Chernobyl catastrophe. Today, carbon has become a sin.
After defining sin, the movement defined the worst sinners as deniers. By using strong language, and that word particularly, the movement puts Holocaust denial on the same level as not joining the movement. Just like what the Church did with heretics and people who went against the doctrine, the Green Church makes an enemy out of anyone who dares question it. The connotations of the word denier forces people to stop any train of thought as to avoid becoming a heretic and, by extension, a Nazi.
As the movement created various sins, it offered various ways to repent. The war on coal was the first repentance. Later, the anti-nuclear became the second way. Today, the carbon neutrality and further the anti-carbon movements are the third way to repent. At the same time, another list of ways to repent grew. For instance, the purchase of a hybrid and electric car is an easy way to repent. Another repentance is through less meat consumption. In this sense of good and bad, the environmentalist movement became a church with a message. A great picture of this analogy is the actions of a seminar did, roughly a week ago. People attending the event were confessing their sins to plants. Repentance and confession were once part of the Catholic practices. Today, they have been taken over by the environmentalist church.
Another religious aspect of the movement is the presence of various prophets, all with the same message and with the same salvation aspect. The most prominent prophet is former US vice-president Al Gore. The former political leader made it his message about global warming in his movie, The Day after Tomorrow. Today, the prophet is Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist from Sweden who rose to providence since her school strike for the planet. As expected, and along with her previous speeches to the European Commission, her message to the General Assembly reflected the message she has been pushing. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” These words follow up strongly with her message to the European Commission, “I want you to act as if your house is on fire”. Her task, more than VP Gore, is to keep pounding the message. Her youth is an appeal to the movement as it provides them with a prophet with a longer timeline.
Lastly, on Sunday, in Switzerland, a group of people gathered around in the funeral of a melting glacier. Funerals are important as part of a myth as they symbolize man’s coping with death. The attendees wore clothes expected at a funeral and behaved as if in one. The myth of funerals allow man to think about life, the afterlife and reflect on their experience. The reflection of the funeral empower the movement’s message, as to transform their suffering into a coping mechanism through the activism.
The power of myth allowed for the green movement to morph itself into a religion. This religion has a cultural appeal through the messages spread by celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio. Furthermore, it has now evolved to reach political power via parties. Green parties are now openly running on a platform that reflects their ideology. The Green New Deal, as proposed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, contains both the short-term and long-term remedies, thus giving her movement, plus other green parties, the blueprint of the political solution.
Feature illustration by Diego Fernandez-Shaw. Additional illustration by Naqiya Kantawala.