I’m not ordinarily a ‘cause’ oriented kind of guy. It is my opinion that – at least in American life – mass-media-driven causes are basically institutionalized attempts to make a lot of money by playing off the gullibility and liberal white guilt of our fellow citizens. I’ve always been skeptical, but these kinds of things, even when they’re done with the best of intentions, always seem to go wrong. Remember all that grain that USA for Africa purchased for starving Ethiopians when we were teenagers? The USA for Africa organization gave that grain to the Ethiopian government to distribute to the starving. Of course Ethiopia was in the middle of a massive civil war, which is *why* all those people were starving in the first place – they were rebels. The Ethiopian Government simply sold the grain to Libya in exchange for guns and tanks and planes, which they then used to *Slaughter* all those starving people in Ethiopia. So in the end, USA for Africa killed more people than it saved. (Postscript: the rebels eventually won. Ethiopia is a good deal smaller nowadays than it used to be, and there’s a new country called “Eritrea,” where all those starving rebels used to be.
I mention that as an example of good intentions going horribly wrong. How much worse, then, must intentions that are utterly mercenary to begin with turn out? What happens when corporations and governments and shills decide to manipulate people’s best intentions to pump new revenue streams and votes out of them? There’s an old saw about how ‘A society that is no longer priest-ridden won’t believe in nothing, they’ll believe in anything’ (No, I can’t remember who said it. Probably nobody famous. It sounds a bit slogan-ish). There’s probably some truth to this. Conventional (orthodox?) morality and religious expression probably does function as a brake or a filter to check some of the more manipulative causes, or if they don’t actually stop ‘em, they give people a moment or two to reflect before letting themselves be led off into incredulity and (inevitably) becoming a cash cow for whomever is doing the manipulating.
Noted atheist author Michael Chrichton made a similar argument when he says that “Religion” is an inherent part of our minds for whatever reason, and we simply can not get rid of it any more than we can get rid of our sex drive or our ability to recognize patterns and do math. He says that since the religious impulse is unavoidable, if we get rid of “God” (or “gods” or whatever), we will simply replace them with a new concept that is religion in all-but-name. We’ve all met Atheists who are extremely evangelical about their atheism. We’ve all met Environmentalsts who are likewise virtual gaia-worshipers and are likewise very evangelical about it. We’ve all met Democrats who are every bit as slavishly devoted to the party line as any Catholic is to the latest ramblings of the Pope. (Republicans do this too, but somewhat less, I suspect because Republicans by and large are already religious, and don’t need to manufacture a new belief system to replace the old one. This, of course, can occasionally cause it’s own set of problems, though) The less said about the self-important undergraduate communists of the 70s/80s the better. Chrichton’s speech on Environmentalism as the “New religion of choice for young urban atheists” is online here, and it’s pretty good. Give it a read:
My point is simply that whether or not there’s a God (Chrichton appears to have thought there isn’t), our minds need something we can’t see to believe in, and this is a drive that can be easily manipulated by people with either good intentions or bad intentions, but, in general, when you see a major propagandistic push by suddenly-idealistic corporations, governments, and the media, it pretty much always has some kind of money-grab behind it.
For instance, say when a washed up politician decides to re-invent himself as the Grand Poobah of the Environmental lobby following a failed presidential bid, or when oil companies decide to diversify their cash streams by developing an alternative source of income for themselves, and justify it by the now-trendy environmental movement, despite all the fracking chaos it causes in the rest of the world.
I’m talking about the massive food crisis that’s going on in the rest of the world right now. Closest and most obviously, we’ve had food riots going on in Hati, but we’ve had similar situations all over the world over the past year. In the Philippines, the Government is having to distribute food in armed shipments. The situation is becoming equally dire in Africa and will quickly spread through most of Asia as well. People are dying. More people have already died in six months of this crisis than have died in the entire Iraq war.
I know what you’re thinking, “What does this have to do with us? What’s this got to do with Environmentalism?”
Just this: The US is the breadbasket of the world. For more than a century, we’ve produced roughly half the world’s food. I can not overstate that: there are six billion people in the world, and three billion of them are dependent on food grown in the US. For better or worse, the rest of the world depends on us for it. Suddenly – very suddenly – we’re not producing nearly as much food as we used to. Suddenly countries that were dependent on importing food from abroad aren’t getting the US share of that, and what they *can* get, they can’t afford. You, yourself may have noticed that bread is twice as expensive as it was a year ago, rice is way up. Every food item is considerably more expensive. Why is that?
Hundreds of thousands of American farmers have stopped producing food in favor of growing corn to make into Ethanol. Ethanol is very politically popular at the moment, the oil companies like it, the Government likes it, the environmentalists like it, and it’s more lucrative for the farmers to grow and sell than that pesky old wheat or rice or other staple crops, so, there you have it: people are starving all over the world because growing food is less profitable than growing fuel.
Here’s some links to chew on:
and who could forget this plucky little one here:
all of which back up the ‘how and why’ of the present world food crisis. (They make no comment of my theory about plutocratic mass-scale manipulation of the zeitgeist, however. You’re free to accept or deny that as you see fit. )
There’s also the usual whack-job conspiracy theorists who say that this food crisis is intentional, part of a plan to starve black people out of existence, or ‘thin out the number of undesirable ethnic types’ or kill off the Chinese or whatever. Here’s a random example http://www.rense.com/general82/food.htm I myself don’t believe that for a minute. Conspiracy Theories themselves are just another replacement Religion-in-all-but-name.
No, it’s plainly greed, pure and simple. Big companies saw a chance to lessen their dependence on oil by developing a new resource. They generated a mostly-fake* international crisis by tendentiously manipulating a lot of inconclusive data (If the world is warming up, how come it’s cooler now than it was ten years ago?) and sold the public on ‘doing their part.’ Their part essentially is consuming products that are of benefit only to the corporations that make ‘em, and the politicians who ride uninformed public opinion into office.
And as a result of this, thousands are already dead, millions are going hungry, and – if something big doesn’t happen soon – billions more could join them. Way to go, Greens! I hope you’re proud of yourselves. In a worst-case scenario, half the population of the world could die as a result of your stupid gullibility, but hey, at least you get to feel like you’re ‘giving something back.’
* - I’m not one of those reactionary idiots who say the environment is fine. There are a lot of very real problems. The amount of lead in our atmosphere is ONE THOUSAND times what it was a century ago, entirely due to using leaded gasoline. This is undoubtedly causing massive health problems to humans and animals and plants all over the world, not to mention contaminating water supplies. Yet you notice how you never hear environmentalists talk about that? Instead, all they talk about are the trendy ‘popular’ issues like Biofuels, Global Warming (Which would actually be a good thing for the earth), Ozone depletion, etc, and they ignore the clear-and-present dangers like atmospheric contamination and what have you.