Heather du Plessis-Allan: Has climate change become a religion?

Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Monday, 16 September 2019, 4:28PM
School students protesting climate change earlier in the year. (Photo / Mark Mitchell)

Is it just me or has climate change become a religion?

I ask this because I opened the newspaper this morning to be confronted by a campaign that virtually all the major news outlets have signed up to for this week: Covering Climate Now.

It’s an international campaign. 170 odd news organisations around the world are involved, and it includes some of our very own: 1 News, Radio NZ, Newshub, the NZ Herald, Stuff, Newsroom and the Spinoff.

Now I know these people mean well because they want to save the planet, but this just feels like shouting at people, doesn’t it?

It’s not as if there’s news here. Climate change is not a new phenomenon and it's not as though something climate based has sparked the story. The point in running these stories according to one newspaper is to emphasise the ‘paramount importance of the climate story’.

So it’s simply to convince you, either to believe in climate change or to start doing something about it. Which, if it was a religion, would be the equivalent of trying to convert you. And the point of converting you, like a religion, is to control your behaviour.

Except this time it’s not tithing or foregoing pork or pray every morning. This time they are asking you to choose bicycles over car and eating red meat and flying in planes. Have a look at what happens to people who say they don't believe in climate change. They are pretty much written off as morons, which means the rest of the argument, no matter how well argued, the rest of the argument is invalidated. 

Now as it happens, I do think climate change is occurring, there’s scientific consensus on that, and I do think that it is anthropogenic or caused by human activity.

But even I’m getting tired of this relentless campaign to try to convert everyone to think exactly the same way. What is the problem if some people disagree? What’s the problem if some people don’t want to stop driving the gas guzzlers or want to keep eating red meat?

Surely there are enough people and politicians who believe in anthropogenic climate change and who want to save the planet to outweigh the few who consistently refuse to accept it.

Surely we can just leave them alone, instead of going all televangelist on them. Surely we can tolerate some people not agreeing with us. That's all this is really about, campaigns like this; it's trying to make everyone agree. 

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