So at last, it is official. Personal convictions about the environment are no longer to be regarded as matters of logic or science, but belong to the world of faith. As from this week, they are subject to the 2003 Religion and Belief Act. A belief in global warming has been put on the same legal footing as a belief in the resurrection or the existence of hell.
While the position regarding employment rights is now clear – you can refuse to do anything which offends your green beliefs, however daft – there is some uncertainty as to how this will impinge on our daily life.
Here, with the help of a green religious affairs adviser, are answers to the most pressing questions.
Will this be a formal new faith with a name?
Almost certainly. It will no longer enough to be vaguely concerned about the environment, to play one's part by doing a bit of recycling and cutting back on plastic bags. Once the Church of Green Faith has been established, there will be no room for agnostics or floating voters. Believers will be encouraged to go out and spread the message of fear and guilt wherever they go.
How will it be publicised?
There is already talk at the BBC of replacing Thought for the Day with Emission of the Day, in which one of the high priests of green faith – John Prescott, perhaps, or Stella McCartney – will deliver an environmental homily. The current requirement that the BBC should include at least one scary story about the state of the planet in every news bulletin will be more strictly enforced.
What about converting children to the faith?
This is all about our children and our grandchildren. We need to be able to able to look them in the eye and tell them that we did our duty as crusaders of green faith. In schools, footage of melting glaciers, worried-looking polar bears, chain-saws and dead fish will be shown at daily assemblies. Any child heard expressing unacceptable comments will be and reported to the authorities.
How will the new faith affect our everyday life?
Believers will be expected to engage in simple acts of green faith during their daily routines – while dividing their rubbish, for example, or estimating their daily carbon footprint. They might repeat words of environmental wisdom from Al Gore or Leonard di Caprio, or perhaps sing a song written by Sting. The Church of Green Faith will be campaigning that the phrase "for the sake of the planet and the future of our kids" should become part of daily discourse, the equivalent of the Muslim phrase "inhshallah".
What of the non-believers?
A campaign to discredit anyone who questions the government's green policies is already in place. Now that environmentalism is officially a faith, then unacceptable attitudes towards it will become legally blasphemous.
Those who refuse to accept the basic tenets of the faith will be obliged to fall into line with the right-thinking majority, for the sake of the planet and the future of our kids.