Unification News for December 2000
This month we’ll discuss the Earth’s environment, and the movement that has sprung up concerning it. In the years since Earth Day began, this movement has grown in prominence, divided into factions, and remains subject to controversy. Governments have gotten involved, from the local level right on up to the United Nations.
Rev. Moon is among the world’s first published environmentalists. The Divine Principle, in its section on the Third Blessing, urges care for the environment.
There is a lot of conventional wisdom about the "ecological crisis," not all of it accurate. Are the rain forests going for good? Is the ozone layer vanishing? Is the Earth warming up (a separate issue, by the way), and would that be a bad thing? Are we getting buried under mountains of trash? These issues have bred fierce advocates.
Al Gore has weighed in. As this article goes to press, the Presidential election dispute has yet to be settled. Whether Gore wins or loses, his book Earth in the Balance deserves attention, and its positive aspects highlighted. He sees "eco-warriors" as "brave resistance fighters" in a battle as huge and dire as World War Two.
Gore advocates "new aquaculture," just like our movement has pioneered. Also, "quick technology transfers" to the Third World. (Ditto.) Gore states that "political corruption is like physical pollution." He has some odd ideas about how such corruption starts.
I applaud Gore’s written defense of Democracy and Capitalism. He compares these to the new "parallel processing" computers. Communism and centralized economies are compared to clunky old mainframes.
Gore even notes that "government is worse in direct relation to its distance from those being governed." Thus warning against ecological solutions requiring an unworkable global bureaucracy—which many people do advocate.
The environmental movement has spawned extremists. Some are large and well-heeled, like Greenpeace. Others, like Earth First!, are shadowy. Read Dave Foreman’s book Confessions of an Eco-Warrior. He advocates tree spiking, which has killed at least one mill worker. Also the "direct action defense" of old growth forests, recently manifested in the tree-dwelling exploits of several activists.
Foreman does make one good point: the forest can do little to defend itself. (Thus the proposed Second-and-a-half Amendment: the "right to arm bears.") He readily admits a point made by Rush Limbaugh: that "the eco-movement is the new home of the radical left." Foreman welcomes help from political radicals.
The scientific facts underlying the Environmental Crisis have nearly been drowned out by all the rhetoric. For instance, the Antarctic "ozone hole" is actually a small percentage-point drop, which varies widely each and every year. No data exists from previous centuries, for comparison.
In fact, Miami receives far more ultraviolet radiation than Antarctica ever does, even if its ozone cover were to vanish entirely! This is simple geometry: the angle of the sunlight hitting a spherical Earth.
Scientists such as the late Dixie Lee Ray weigh in on the optimistic side, claiming that the eco-crisis isn’t nearly so bad. (Read her Trashing the Planet.) One must study the data carefully.
Julian Simon writes that "the [reported] extinction of species may be greatly exaggerated." Valuable plants are being needlessly destroyed; yet the rain forests have already advanced, and retreated to almost nothing, many times, with each passing Ice Age. The clearing of the Amazon Basin has been wildly exaggerated. Also, the disappearance of America’s farmlands, and its trash disposal problems, have been overstated. (Read Simon’s Hoodwinking the Nation.)
Many believe that the Americas, before the White Man came, were pristine. In reality, the original Native Americans caused soil erosion, the salting of fields, and the extinction of many species. The early Spaniard’s method of farming caused less harm, as scientists confirmed in Mexico’s Patzcuaro Basin. A farmer, if he had any sense, cares for his land the most!
Such exaggerations can hit close to home. This author’s son attends an excellent religious school. One day they made a presentation about the environment, including the unsightly practice of clear-cut logging. What they neglected to mention is that the lumber companies are also replanting their vast forest lands.
There is a profound religious aspect to the environmental movement. Many activists say that modern people are "alienated from the Earth," and thus are harming it unknowingly. They wish a return to an older, Pagan religion. Goddess worshipers call the Earth "a living part of our being." Perhaps you’ve seen bumper stickers reading Love Your Mother, referring to the Earth as Gaia.
Before Safeway or McDonalds existed, people had to kill or gather their own meals each day. Such primitives better be close to the Earth—or they’d promptly starve! Most of today’s activists are city dwellers, far less familiar with nature than the hunters and loggers they decry.
In his book Eco-Scam, Ronald Bailey says that environmental doomsayers are part of a long "millenarian prophetic tradition." Those who cry: "The End is Near!" and believe that "the evil world of unregenerate men must be overthrown." Instead of divine fire, eco-destruction fits the bill nicely. Concerning such an event, John Muir famously stated, "I should rather side with the bears."
Many Christians think this is the Last Days, and our very Earth about to "dissolve with fire." They conclude it’s better to get on with evangelism, and not bother with the environment. Recently, some Christians have recalled their tradition of "stewardship." Alarmed at the Pagan aspects of the environmental movement, they’re getting involved.
Most Conservatives have been busy battling Communism, high taxation, and other pressing issues. They’ve allowed the Left to take the moral high ground of defending the Earth. Now they’re proposing "pro-people" action. Lately, this has brought on some dramatic confrontations over Open Road policies on public lands. Also, they wish to counter the extreme Deep Ecology belief that (modern) humans are "the AIDS of the ecosystem."
Modern man has created thousands of new chemicals, vastly improving our standard of living. But we’ve dumped some very dangerous ones, as Japan’s Minamata Bay community found, to its horror. Most chemical scares (like Alar) have proven false.
Most environmental "experts" call for heavy government regulation. Yet the EPA, and the White House, maintain whole fleets of gas guzzlers! Bureaucrats just can’t handle such problems. They spent half of the taxpayer’s Superfund "cleanup" billions on lawyers.
Some famous activists used to warn loudly against "global cooling." The warning has changed, but, as Ronald Bailey put it: "freeze or fry, the problem is always the same, Industrial Capitalism. And [their] solution is always International Socialism."
Sweatshop Capitalism did produce a sickening mess, like 19th century London’s "killer fogs." Al Gore wrote that only advanced science, and a free and prosperous society, can tackle ecological problems.
Each society’s character has an important impact on the ecology.
Communists, believing that "nobody owns anything," created horrible pollution, making little or no effort to clean it up. (In the old USSR, and today, in China.)
Racism causes eco-troubles as well. National and race hatreds foster artificial divisions of the land and seas. Wars cause an awful mess, with the land itself among the trampled victims. Saddam Hussein’s destruction of Kuwait’s oil wells was only the most egregious example. (There are quirky exceptions, like quiet DMZs and empty military reservations.)
Such divisions hamper effective solutions, as with boundary-crossing rivers. America’s polluted maquilladora border factories are another example.
Sexual immorality has an impact. People who are absorbed in lust have little energy for causes such as the environment. Those who are dying of AIDS, and the many who attend them, are also kept occupied.
Excessive greed, itself a kind of obsession, leads some people to overlook pollution, or hazardous conditions. (Material for countless Hollywood productions!)
Ancient Holy Men and Medicine Women had a close affinity with the Earth. As did Korean shamans, and Rev. Moon inherits this sensitivity. He speaks of "being grateful to your three parents." That is: God, who made everything; the Earth, which supplies us with everything; and our own parents, who gave us birth, and raised us as best they could.
Our founder warned of ecological troubles ahead, with "ten times as many people" crowding this world. (A population of 40 billion, reckoning from when he spoke.) He said, "people will be eating sushi," because, by then, "all forms of burning will be limited."
Thus, he’s gotten us involved with the ocean. He plans vast inland-sea-spanning seafood farms. These will be the best—if not the only—way to feed this teeming future humanity.
Corporations like to tout their environmental sensitivity, and one can only hope they possess a shred of sincerity . . . Most governments now punish the worst polluters.
The Feds are planning "bio regions," and sending out "species checkers" to chart the extent of any problems. (With some unfortunate abuses.)
Pollution laws have prompted wonderful innovations, such as practical, low mileage hybrid-motor cars. (After electric cars flopped, with good reason.)
What input can Unificationists make? The Principle says, "dominate the creation in heart." Its Third Blessing is a beautiful expression of stewardship.
Our Level Four book mentions "drives to restore polluted areas." Far from Joni Mitchell’s lyrical nightmare about Paving Paradise, we are to have "concern and love for nature."
There is much ecological sensationalism, including proposals ranging from silly to Orwellian. There are real problems. Eventually, technology like large scale fish farming, and clean fusion power, will help.
We have yet to jump into this issue (in a big way), so please note that the spiritual Restoration is part and parcel of any effective solution.
Humanity’s spiritual Fallen Nature is the greatest pollution of all. Cleansing the world of this scourge will open the way for a clean, peaceful, and plentiful Kingdom.
Download entire page and pages related to it in ZIP format
Table of Contents