Green sin week — your personal guide to penance

Anthony Watts Meteorologist and Climate Blogger
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The eco website “Grist” last week showed the link between environmentalism and religion by making a “virtual confession booth” for those who have sinned against Gaia.

Apparently, there was a lot of green sinning going on during the last week of Lent, leading up to Easter. Why, I’m sinning just using electricity for my PC to write this.

First, NBC-Universal Networks and NBC News aligned themselves with Gaia by turning “bug” logos green last week on all of their channels. Even the famous peacock logo got the treatment. Of course, they’ve been doing that for a few years so it isn’t much news.

What is news, however, is that one anchor was moved (perhaps by Grist) to actually confess “green sins” live on the air.

Here’s what CNN’s T.J. Holmes said during a broadcast of CNN Newsroom last week:

I’d like confess my sins. I drive a Chevy Tahoe…I often turn the water on in the shower, then I walk downstairs…I throw those bottles away without recycling…Those are my eco-sins. I’m confessing them to you because tomorrow is Earth Day.

Given that I’ve been feeling less than holy myself lately, I decided to confess what many consider to be my biggest sin, writing about climate change and its associated failures. This is what I got after entering my “sin”:

Hmm, I’ve been called a lot of things, but never a “voracious parasite.” Funny thing is, we already have reusable grocery bags, animal-friendly shampoo, and some weird twisty bulbs in our household. I even went the extra mile and put in LED fixtures.

I decided maybe my sin of running WUWT was just too complex for the sinning model they programmed into their database. After all, most of the images, charts, and graphs I post transcend religion and venture into the netherworld of fact.

So I decided to ask myself: What is my most basic sin?

In terms of Gaia and her protectors, what would constitute “original sin”? It’s a tough question. I pondered it for a while. I made some tea using some fossil fuel-powered electricity and contemplated my sins of consumption perpetrated globally by the Lipton Company and Pacific Gas and Electric. Then it hit me, like a bolt out of the green!

I had it, the most pure truth when it comes to sin against Gaia. I entered it into the GSS (the “Grist Sin System”), and here is what it told me:

Quite a screed for the original sin of “I exist.” At least self-flagellation wasn’t needed.

If you wish to have a look at the GSS, you can try it yourself here. Many of the sins entered seem to be mocking Gaia, though. Here’s a few that I noted:

04.24.2011 – I love horsepower more than I love the environment.

04.24.2011 – I wasted 30 seconds of my time looking at this website. Useless, but indicative of your entire stand on this issue.

04.24.2011 – I justify eating watermelon all year long by telling myself it’s always in season somewhere in the world.

04.24.2011 – I secretly like to hear reports that global warming isn’t real because it increases my sense of reality.

04.24.2011 – I know global warming is fake, but refuse to tell anyone because it upsets them so. Try it yourself. See what happens.

04.24.2011 – At the beach, I pee in the ocean like its my job.

04.24.2011 – I don’t buy organic because that shit’s expensive.

I urge readers to confess as well.

In related news, my local newspaper, the Chico Enterprise Record, seems to be “fed up” with all things green that are encapsulated as mandates from the summit. They published this editorial during Earth Week, a few excerpts of which I’ve posted below:

Our view: People will do what’s good for the Earth without the heavy hand of government regulation.

We’re doing what’s good for the Earth, because it’s also good for us. When good Earth-friendly products are available, Americans will embrace them.

But that’s not enough, apparently. In less than three years, you won’t have any alternative to the CFL, except for LED lights and whatever new-fangled thing comes down the pike by then. Because by January 2014, a federal ban on the incandescents will be complete. The ban started phasing in on Jan. 1 in California, which always likes to be first, followed by other states next January.

That’s the other thing that has changed since the first Earth Day. No one can deny we as a nation are more aware and more responsible. The simple fact that everyone recycles, which was a downright bizarre practice in 1970, may be the best indication of how far we’ve come.

But we’ve also seen the growth of a faction intoxicated by environmentalism. And when they reach the halls of power, they push their causes with arrogance, justifying it as the defense of Mother Earth. They know more than us, and don’t give us any credit.

So we end up with laws that tell us what to do — even as in the case of the CFLs, gas-efficient vehicles and recycling mandates — when it really isn’t necessary. We’re smart enough to do what’s good for us.

Perhaps we need a website for greens to confess sins against humanity.

Oh, and when you click on the Grist “Still feeling Guilty?” link, you discover there’s a “Deep Throat follow the money moment” and you are urged to buy indulgences:

Was it ever about anything else?

Anthony Watts operates the most-visited blog on climate science in the world: Watts Up With That.