Today most people would agree that climate change is a problem. We can see why this problem through out the world. The ice caps are melting at an alarming rate and forest fires have hit some of the most important places in the world. Environmental activism has taken over the news trying to show us what needs to be done in order to “save the world.” Their protest has caused more problems rather than shown us what needs to be done. This paper argues about how environmental activism can be seen merely as a doomsday cult.
Before we get started with how environmental activism can be seen merely as a doomsday cult, I will define what exactly makes a cult. A cults definition is, “a religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an authoritarian, charismatic leader.” Here are a few characteristics of a cult. In a cult there is always a leader that is seen as a “god.” Which means that the followers look up to the leader and will do anything they say. They have deception in recruiting. When they recruit others, they deceive them into thinking that joining the cult is the only logically thing to do. The cult has isolation, weather that be physical or mental. The cult usually does “activities” on their own with only cult members involved. The cult demands unquestioning devotion and loyalty. This goes back to the leader. The group should not question anything the cult is doing even if it seems wrong. They also have a distinction between “us” which is the people in the group or the good people, and “them” which is the people who do not believe what they believe or the bad people. In the definition of a cult it is referred to as a religious sect, but not all cults are religious. They can be driven by political goals as well. Lastly, they center around predictions of the apocalypse (Layton, 2019).
Now, I will define a doomsday cult. A doomsday cult, according to the dictionary, is a religious movement whose members believe that an apocalyptic event will occur. Doomsday cults always have a charismatic leader. This leader has complete control over his followers, no one in the group questions his decisions, and he is not accountable for anyone in the group. To people outside of a doomsday cult the idea of the world coming to an end on a certain day seems ridiculous, but those in the cult is seems logical. Even with no scientific evidence the followers still believe their leader when he says the world will end. Christianity is the largest religious group in the world. Doomsday cult followers believe their group is just as legit as Christians. Doomsday cults are also reworking their brains into thinking things that are utterly impossible and ridiculous to happen. When they recruit, they deceive people by saying they are the “chosen ones.” They also use the same tactics as those of terrorist organizations to recruit others (Nadi, 2019). When recruiting they also look for exploits. They try and find troubled young people that are “mentally ill.” One common trait among followers in doomsday cults is heightened stress. Most recruits are gullible as they believe ridiculous ideas because they do not know otherwise (Layton, 2019).
Next, I will define environmental activism. Environmental activism definition is a person who advocates for, or works towards, protecting the natural environment from destruction or pollution. They are concerned for what the planet has come to and feel there is a threat that it will end. There are three main approaches to environmentalism. Solution driven activism, change focused activism and revolutionary activism. Solution driven is recognizing a solution to a problem they see, and demanding action happens to fix it. Change focused is the same as solution driven but to a larger scale. This focuses on establishing an alternative system and using it along side the flawed one. Revolutionary seeks immediate change and direct action (Vale, 2016). Although the Extinction Rebellion may be a more dangerous group of environmentalists, they are still environmentalists. The Extinction Rebellion lead many major protests about climate change. One of their protest was on April 15th of this year the Extinction Rebellion gathered thousands to block of roads in London. The organizers said, “it could last several days.” In April the Extinction Rebellion were said to have demonstrations planned in 80 cities across 33 countries. There have been many protests like these this year that have caused a major disruption to the community (Dettmer, 2019).
Finally, I will discuss how environmental activism can be seen merely as a doomsday cult. Doomsday cults always have the leader that no one ever questions. The environmental activists do not have a called-out leader, but Greta Thunberg has taken the role of being their leader. They both would never question their leaders even if they requested or said something ridiculous. In the past doomsday cults were the ones having warnings of the end of the world. Now it is the environmental activists that are releasing these warnings. One of the main contributors of a cult is the warnings of the end of the world. Even though environmentalists are not seen as a religious group they have taken the religious warnings from a god or gods. Brendan O’Neill from The Guardian states that, “Environmentalists have co-opted the poisonous religious notion that a higher power shall punish us for our uncaring behaviour. The recent floods in England were described as a ‘warning’ from nature, just as floods in biblical times were considered to be warnings – or stern tellings-off – from the almighty” (O’Neill, 2007). Even though they may not be seen as a religious group they have started to adopt religious reasons for the events that have happened. No environmentalists, like doomsday cults, have any tolerance for questions about their beliefs. As of right now Extinction Rebellion is the most like a doomsday cult out of all the environmental groups. They want to do anything possible to get their point across. Weather that be protesting on a major roadway or protesting at an airport. Greta Thunberg gave a speech at a United Nations summit in September saying, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thunberg said in a speech at the UN Global Climate Action Summit in New York. “People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of endless economic growth. How dare you!” Her saying this on such a big stage can make people who are not environmentalists already feel bad from she is saying and almost recruit them in a way (Chasan and Wainer, 2019). With Greta saying these terrible things about how the world will be in the future and how we will all die from this; it is putting fear among children that do not know much about climate change. They hear these things and it is the first thing they are hearing about then they will be terrified. This is much like what the doomsday cults would do when they predicted the end of the world. They would go around telling everyone the end is near and scare people they have no idea what is actually true.
In conclusion, after seeing what makes a cult, what makes a doomsday cult, what makes an environmental activist, and how they compare it is clear on how environmental activism can be seen as a doomsday cult. Environmentalists fit the description for a cult and then the similarity to a doomsday cult make them fit in the category of a doomsday cult. I think this is important to look at because of how big environmentalists have come to today. They have started to protest in major areas around the world. It will be interesting to see how much more they will do to get their point across. It will also be interesting to see how far they are willing to go. They have already disturbed people’s lives with their protest, but what else will they progress to.