As (long dead) environmentalism schlepps across the street to the new mantra of sustainability, it's like way too easy to bring along that screeching whine of moral authoritarianism which turns off otherwise intelligent and concerned people.
Tom Schueneman, for one, doesn't like the sound of "the world is going to hell and it’s your fault" (via triple pundit).
Schueneman worries that this messianic attitude "interjects itself into the science, discussion, and ultimately the perceived 'righteousness' of one side and moral depravity of the other."
“Ultimately, it is its own worst enemy," notes Schueneman, who rejects this new form of fundamentalism. I do, too.
Schueneman notes that "fundamentalism of any stripe suggests an abandonment of reason, a fear-based authoritarian view that rejects open dialog and nuanced consideration of views outside of our own."
Wonders Schueneman, "does the fact that I’m on the 'correct' side of the debate make my obsession or moral indignation 'right'?"
Oh, and, Schueneman slams this door with a reference to that line from Lennon/McCartney:
"If You Go Carryin’ Pictures of Chairman Mao, You Ain’t Gonna Make it With Anyone Anyhow."
In a similar vein, Brad Allenby writes on "The Dangerous Rise of Carbon Fundamentalism" (via greenbiz).
Says Allenby, "climate change science and policy is rapidly becoming carbon fundamentalism, an over-simplistic but comprehensive structure of moral valuation that can be applied to virtually any individual or institution."
Notes Allenby, "fundamentalism of any stripe is dangerous because it oversimplifies complex problems and because it facilitates 'good' versus 'evil' framing that cuts off dialog and thus tends to be profoundly anti-democratic, anti-intellectual, anti-rational -- and anti-scientific."
As Schueneman points out, "by defining all social behaviors with a simple assessment of carbon footprint, we risk defining nothing at all, merely assigning it a moral criterion of right vs. wrong or 'my way or the highway'. Any real debate, reasoned logic, and substantive progress is dead."
Schueneman argues that "Carbon fundamentalism is anathema to what global warming 'obsessives' like myself claim to seek – a reasoned and rational debate on how to address climate change.
Concludes Schueneman, "to the extent that there is a moral component to how we care for the earth and each other, it cannot be dictated or forced."
Wot he said.