Scan the newspapers or watch the evening news, and you’ll quickly realize that environmental concerns are most keenly felt in rich countries, the citizens of which typically enjoy the best quality of the environment. The epicenter of apocalyptic sentiments about the state of the planet is Western Europe, with North America coming in a close second. This “eco-anxiety,” some scholars contend, is tied to a crisis of meaning in rich countries. A comparatively comfortable life and a decline of traditional religion has created a void that’s increasingly filled by environmentalism.
Of course, all religions need their prophets. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish environmentalist who sailed for two weeks on a solar-powered yacht from Europe to America to attend two global warming conferences, refused to travel by plane, due to the environmental impact of flying. Like the saints of yore, she has suffered for her convictions. Given Greta’s fame and notoriety, it may be worthwhile to ponder some of the psychological reasons for today’s environmentalist frenzy and recognize that – the true state of the environment aside – environmentalism fills an important purpose in rich people’s lives.
Article URL : https://humanprogress.org/article.php?p=2115