A radical new religion is sweeping across the western world. Young people are marching from their schools and preaching on the streets.
Pensioners are blocking roads and glueing themselves to trains. ‘The End Is Nigh!’ ‘The Climate is Collapsing!’ is their new call to prayer.
Extinction Religion is building its church inside our primary schools, colleges and town centres. It is gathering a flock of anxious and fearful people and inspiring them to protest and get arrested. But, as the Church of Extinction (CofE) replaces the old CofE, what is at the core of their faith?
In the new CofE, the Earth, itself, is God. The primordial deity is reified as the giver of life and the essence of purity, unsullied by human activity. Known to some worshippers as Gaia, the biosphere is believed to inhabit a spirit that wishes to return to a state of natural equilibrium. CofE! literature doesn’t clarify whether this ideal state is to be found in a previous ice age, prior to the evolution of fish or sometime around 1780. However, CofE! devotees can hear the groans of their god, suffering from the sins of humankind.
Carbon dioxide, the colourless odourless gas, is the evil spirit. CofE! mythology portrays carbon dioxide as the silent poisoner of the virginal Green Gaia. Although, CO2 is essential to the healthy growth of plants and trees, which makes the earth so green, it is castigated as an evil gas. Why would they demonise something which is essential to life itself? The answer lies in human sin. When we heat our homes, cook, travel and produce goods, CO2 is a natural by-product. It is the vaporous proxy for our indulgence in the simple pleasures of modern convenience. The fumes of human sin.
The Church of Extinction has a Priesthood. It interprets the silent words of Gaia. They have named it ‘The Science’, to make it sacred in our atheist world. Specially trained scholars decipher the alignment of numbers, which cluster within the ‘climate models’ of large computers. The secular theologians are known as ‘climate scientists’. They prepare special formulations of ‘assumptions’ and ‘data normalising techniques’ which feed ‘The Science’. Encyclicals, known as ‘press releases’ are delivered daily in the readings of ‘the news’. Although the Priesthood are unable to provide weather forecasts beyond the next fortnight, they predict temperatures in 100 years-time and apocalypse in decades. The Priests of CoE! are rewarded for their work with bursaries, grants and speaking engagements at the pulpits around the world.
The child saint, Greta Thunberg, was the first human to be canonised by the CofE. She has been recognised for her transcendental gift – the unique ability to see the colourless carbon dioxide poisoning our atmosphere. She refuses to perform miracles – she has failed to revive dying polar bears or stop ice melting – but she is recognised by the great and good as a prophet. Unlike previous saints, Greta knows that her God is an angry God and she implores the children of CofE! to chant “How Dare You!” and “You have stolen my future!”
The CofE has been successful in attracting members of the establishment to its cause. Although not everyone believes that the climate is changing at an alarming rate, or that CO2 is the primary cause, or that we can reduce CO2 output without destroying human welfare, or that earthly extinction is remotely likely, they have declared that there is a consensus of opinion. Those that question any elements of ‘The Science’ are known as ‘climate deniers’. They are heretics who are infected with the evil spirit and cast out of public life.