Long has it been noted by conservative commentators that environmentalism is a religion, in which Earth becomes a deity, carbon emissions become sin, and environmental activism is the pursuit of paradise through good works.
But no longer is climate-change alarmism a cult of the hippie left. It has grown into a full-fledged establishment, a church, if you will, complete with funding (separation of church and state need not apply here), dogma, and clergy. Unlike the religions of old, there is no “wall of separation” between this church and the state, and that means a portion of our taxes ($39.14 billion were earmarked for energy and the environment in 2015) are really a tithe to the church.
Such an intertwining of faith and government merits a discussion of how the religion of environmentalism practically impacts us all: namely, how it is draining our wealth in an effort to buy us salvation.
Since Al Gore is too obvious an example of sanctimonious climate change pulpiteering by the climate change clergy, here’s Elon Musk at his unveiling of the Tesla Model 3, explaining our crimes against Mother Earth and asking the well-off to buy his guilt-assuaging (and truly brilliant) car. By his warm-up, one might expect a short session of self-flagellation with the “hockey stick” he would peel off the giant graph behind him (see minute 1:10).
Tesla is making money, of course, but not without a little government subsidy to grease the wheels of environmental progress, including, according to the Wall Street Journal, $7,500 from federal taxpayers directly subsidizing the purchase of electric cars, and Tesla’s sale of “zero-emission vehicle credits” to competitors who don’t meet federal standards for fuel efficiency.
Subsidies are one of many methods of bringing cash into the Church of Environmentalism, including private investment and research grants, but the most jaw-droppingly outrageous cash-raker is the carbon indulgence. As the Journal notes, “Tesla looks more like a classic of the reverse income redistribution of green crony capitalism, in which middle-class taxpayers subsidize billionaires who make products to satisfy the anti-fossil-fuel indulgences of the upper classes.”
How the Coffers Overfloweth
The whole cap-and-trade scheme enforced in some states and lobbied for nationally is really a mega-system of mandated purchase of indulgences—not the kind official Roman Catholic dogma has promoted, but the abused kind. This is the kind where, in the Middle Ages, people traded indulgences on outrageous claims of salvation from eternal damnation and permission to commit certain sins. In this case, trespassing companies pay more through carbon credits (by order of the state) to cover the sin of carbon emissions.
But if you, as either a business or an individual, feel your mandatory tithe via state and federal taxes isn’t high enough, you can chuck a little more into the coffer through organizations such as CarbonFund and TerraPass, which have websites through which you can “calculate” your carbon footprint and then pay to have the organization fund projects that allegedly “cancel out” your carbon emissions.
Popular personal finance blogger Mr. Money Mustache recently demonstrated his eco-righteousness by explaining how he calculated, and then paid, $979 worth of carbon emissions from himself and his family.
If you’re like me, you’ve made some improvements over the average rich world resident, but your life is still plenty gluttonous, and unsustainable if everyone on the planet lived that way. What can you do? You can erase your footprint with a few clicks.
Companies like TerraPass and CarbonFund have popped up to efficiently channel money into projects that soak up or prevent CO2 emissions…Heading to CarbonFund.org, I am filling up a shopping cart with the energy use from my household.
He then goes on to confess his environmental transgressions, each with a numerical value assigned by the Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies: “I’m going add all of that up to get final bill: $37 + $5+ $17 + $20 + $900. $979 to erase not only my own family’s footprint, but the equivalent of an entire human lifetime of trips to the equator.” The blogger boasts the instant gratification of receiving a “cute little certificate” by email shortly after submitting his indulgence fee—er, carbon offset contribution.
Although these voluntary donations from individuals and businesses do not reduce any state penalties for environmental trespasses (although one could argue its tax deductibility somewhat accomplishes this), they buy indulgences to ease their guilt, then spread the guilt around by virtue-signaling to make us all more pliable about having more money extracted from our wallets to fund their church.