Moralistic Superiority Provides a Clue

When you run across someone who puts his idea as morally superior to others, you have a clue that you should increase your skeptics quota. Rob Lyons has an example of this in his column Kyoto and a climate of moralism. He says “The debate about global warming has become a moral crusade against our allegedly ‘excessive’ lifestyles.”

slowing down when you drive, turning the lights off and not leaving your telly on stand-by is the will of the Lord. And if the government launches a crackdown to make sure we do it, it’s only doing God’s good work.

and it has consequences

a discussion of human adaptability is at odds with the spirit of the age. The environment debate has become increasingly moralistic: restraint is good, production and consumption are bad. At a time when the decision to live a ‘green’ lifestyle is recast as ‘ethical living’, the ability to debate alternatives is closed down. As long as the debate about climate change is cast in such terms, we can expect more attacks on the notion of economic growth – and we will all be, literally, poorer for it.

It used to be the method of atonement was to parade the streets flailing one’s back with a whip to show everyone how morally superior you were by beating yourself into a pulp. Nowadays it is something similar but maybe not quite as direct. It still comes down to limits and punishment and denial of the fruits of one’s labors as a means to atone for some perceived sins.

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