Scared Green: Sustainability Lies We Tell Our Children

Peter Wood

This article originally appeared on PJ Media on April 30, 2015. 

“Without Pharrell, our planet would not survive.” So says Marquis Jamont, one of 1,200 middle school children who, according to CBS News, trudged through the snow on the first day of spring to see musician Pharrell Williams talk about climate change at the UN. The event kicked off the meeting of the UN’s Open Working Group on new Sustainable Development Goals.

No disrespect to Mr. Williams, but the planet could survive without him and his “Happy” song. Likewise, the world could sustain itself without the goals being cooked up by transnational envirocrats in their endless rounds of meetings.

Pharrell’s appearance at the UN was orchestrated by the UN Foundation and MixRadio to project the message that “the next generation needs to pay attention to climate change.” He needn’t worry about that. From the moment he steps into kindergarten to the hour he graduates from college, Marquis will be trapped in an endlessly repeating loop of “climate change” messages. Pay attention? Try not paying attention. The combination of celebrity endorsements, pop entertainment, and mind-numbing bureaucratic sustaina-babble is part of the surround-sound of sustainability, worldwide. “Climate change education” now begins in kindergarten — and not merely in the form of green happy talk for tykes.

In Australia, for example, the Wilson Street Kindergarten has its own “2015 Environmental Sustainability Policy,” which “reinforces the need for sustainability education to be included in early childhood.” The available resources include: “Climbing the little green steps: How to promote sustainability within early childhood services in your local area.” Americans are not lagging in their little green steps. There is probably not a public-school child in the nation who has not sat through multiple screenings of “The Story of Stuff,” the 20-minute animated “documentary” that propagandizes young children on the environmentally ruinous nature of consumer goods.

Judging by the legions of young people who adopt the cause, the little green steps lead reliably to the temple of green doom.

In Britain in 2010, the public was horrified by a video titled “No Pressure,” which portrayed a teacher exhorting her young students to make a personal climate commitment. When two of the students refused, she pressed a button that exploded the two dissenters in a shower of blood and guts.

In that case, public revulsion prompted the withdrawal, but it was a temporary setback for the cause.

In the same year in the U.S., activists launched “Green My Parents,” an effort to recruit children to shame their parents into helping “save the planet.” The tactic? Turn the kids into nags (“You are in the shower too long!”), and once they succeed in getting mom and dad to mend their ways, to extort them for money on the grounds that the child has helped to cut the household budget.

Green My Parents flourished only briefly, though a book about its “eco-assignments” by campaign leader Tom Feegel is due out next month.

That tactic perhaps foundered on the hard work needed to spoil domestic tranquility. No “Happy” in that. Parents get suspicious when their children, just home from school, turn into mini-EPA tyrants. The New York Times took note of the parental resistance as early as 2008, in “Pint-Size Eco-Police, Making Parents Proud and Sometimes Crazy.”

While the sustainability pitch to children often involves extolling the little green steps they can take for themselves, it is almost always mixed with apocalyptic warnings of what will happen if they fail. By 2009, an advocacy group called Habitat Heroes (“the first social-networking site for young eco-warriors”) was touting a poll that “one out of three children aged 6 to 11 fears that Ma Earth won’t exist when they grow up.” And “more than half — 56 percent — worry that the planet will be a blasted heath” by then.

These efforts to terrorize young children into believing an end-times doctrine of global catastrophe eventually mature into groups oriented to political action. The Alliance for Climate Education, for example, aims to “educate, inspire and activate 12 million teens and young adults as part of a multigenerational force for carbon reduction and healthy communities.” It is not clear how close ACE is to the 12 million mark, but it has lots of “divestment” activists, blogs, and videos featuring painfully sincere teenagers desperate to make a difference.

One of them, Nsilo Mavour, a self-proclaimed “youth climate activist,” holds forth on Huffington Post about the iniquity of fossil fuels and the tragedy that public schools in Wyoming and Oklahoma “sow doubt about the reality of climate change.”

Kudos to the folks in Cheyenne and Stillwater. Your kids may be among the few remaining in the U.S. who have the foundation for independent thinking, free of the nightmare visions, misinformation, and unhinged activism that are promulgated everywhere else. Because, contrary to young Marquis Jamont, our planet would survive “without Pharrell” and all the celebrities riding atop this generational hysteria.

There are, of course, some things that are really scary. That’s the point that my co-author Rachelle Peterson and I make in our book-length study of what happens when the sustainability kids hit college.

In Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism, we follow those little green steps across the quad and into the classrooms and dorms. And we can put Marquis’s worries about the next generation not learning enough about climate change completely to rest. For example, if Marquis were a college freshman this year at Yale, he would find 408 courses that the university says are “sustainability-focused” or “sustainability-related.” At Cornell the number is 290. At Middlebury, 422.

The picture is similar everywhere.  No other subject comes close to occupying so much intellectual territory in the curricula of American colleges and universities. And no need to press any buttons to explode the dissenters. Everyone is “Happy.”

Image: Axy-Stock, Cropped.

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