I had to write a review of the year for the Church Times yesterday, and found myself unable to think for even a minute about a religion which is currently convulsed over the question of whether homosexuals are human beings. Quite apart from anything else, the same arguments have continued for something like twenty years, which means that only the nastiest and least adequate people still care very much. But they’re the ones driving the story.
Anyway, I just thought of a way in which this theological hatred might come to matter. Last week, James Lovelock told me that by the end of the century, there will be no Arctic, and no rain forests either. The world will be eight degrees warmer, on average, and almost all the tropics will be completely uninhabitable. It won’t, in other words, just be the flooding that makes global warming dangerous. It will be the warmth. Civilisation, if it survives, will survive in the Arctic latitudes. So, what will happen to all the people currently living in what will become the southern annexe of the Sahara desert, or the Eastern extension of Death Valley? They’re going to want to move North. But they are going to need some ideology to justify this. Just as we conquered their countries on the grounds that we were bringing civilisation and christianity, in exchange for all their wealth, so they will be able to claim that Europe, or Canada, is a spiritual desert, full of liberals and queers. If ever I steal something from you, I may feel guilty, but I’m much more likely to feel superior, because I have got away with it. Arguments proving my own superiority will thus gain credibility.
You think I’m joking. I hope I’m joking.
But — if the coming century is full of wars over energy, and food and land, which looks increasingly inevitable who can doubt that religion will have a huge part to play? If the USA, under some future Pat Robertson-esque president, should ever invade Canada, will it be oil shales or gay marriage that figure loudest in the propaganda?