Kids are different today – in troubling ways. Studies and polls reveal they are far more prone to anxiety and depression than previous generations and more of them embrace nanny-state socialism.
Multiple factors are driving these broad behaviors – including the rise of social media, infantilizing helicopter parents and the low-grade panic caused by the Great Recession. But a key driver that has received little attention is the left’s false and calculated hysteria around climate change.
Apocalyptic fears may be a feature rather than a bug of human psychology, but Americans under 25 have grown up under a singular cloud of doom. Their teachers, the media, and friends have beat their skulls like a drum with the message that climate change, as Joe Biden recently echoed, represents an “existential threat.”
The canonization of 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and the child marches held around the world last week demanding “climate action” are the apotheosis of this indoctrination campaign. Children, after all, do not conduct peer-reviewed science – they mostly repeat what they’re told. The adults who filled them with dread then offer them as proof of a crisis. The same thing happened during the Crusades.
This effort was crystallized by the question Buzzfeed News asked youngsters attending a march in New York: “What will you miss about Earth when it’s too far gone to be saved?”
The earth is certainly warming – about 1.4 degrees since 1880. NASA says about two-thirds of that has come since 1975. But our planet’s interlocking systems are so vast and complex, that scientists still don’t know the precise relationship between levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and temperature – or their impact on weather.
Take hurricanes, which will be the subject of an N&O Community Voices event on Wednesday. Climate science predicts that warming oceans should generate more frequent and powerful storms. This hasn’t happened. During the period 1950-59, an average of 6.9 named hurricanes formed in the Atlantic each year. In 2010-18, the average was 7. Adjusted for inflation, the most damaging storms in U.S. history were the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane and the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. Hurricane Katrina (2005) was third.
Yes, the climate is changing, but the doomsday scenarios emphasized by the left to frighten us and our children into submission are beyond remote. Our lives will change, but extinction is not on the table.
The left keeps crying catastrophe because it supports their larger quest for power. They tell our children that they, and the polar bears, are all going to die because of rich and greedy corporations practicing soulless capitalism that can only be stopped by activist government.
Hence the rising generation of frightened socialists.
Despite their claims, the left has no realistic plan to solve the problem. The Green New Deal promises a carbon-free utopia of windmills and solar panels but until we can design batteries to store that energy, it is impractical. Germany, for example, has embraced such green policies – spending hundreds of billions of dollars without reducing its carbon emissions since 2009. I hope we reach the zero-emissions promised land someday, but it is now beyond the horizon.
The left also has no strategy to curb increasing emission in China, India and other developing nations.
The most telling signs that America’s left is driven more by ideology than science is its knee-jerk opposition to fracking – which has enabled the United States to significantly reduce its carbon emissions – and to nuclear energy, which is the best source of clean energy.
The left is right about one thing: climate change denial is a real problem. Unfortunately, they are the ones who refuse to see the issue clearly, and our children are paying a heavy price.
This column appeared first in the Raleigh News & Observer on September 25, 2019.