By Bruce Thornton
In 1212, thousands of children and teens in France and England set off for the Holy Land to convert Muslims to Christianity. Led by shepherds, these mostly poor and dispossessed young people headed for the Mediterranean, believing it would miraculously part and allow them to cross on dry land. Instead, the children, promised free passage by a couple of unscrupulous merchants, were sold into slavery or died in a shipwreck.
Last week’s Climate Strike by schoolchildren to “save the planet” is a grotesque parody of this legend of faith and courage, yet no more likely to accomplish anything useful. The strike was the first act of this week’s UN’s “Global Climate Week,” along with blocking traffic in DC (with the help of Antifa and Black Lives Matter), a “Youth Climate Summit,” and an orgy of hypocrisy at the UN General Assembly. No doubt we’ll see “world leaders” dramatically call for “global action,” then pass symbolic resolutions that, like every “climate summit” since 1979, will do absolutely nothing to lower temperatures enough to stop the warmists’ alleged apocalypse.
But instead of young pilgrims risking and losing their lives on behalf of their faith, the Climate “pilgrims” are mostly the global comfortable and affluent enjoying a day off from school as they preen and pontificate about a subject they know little about, and bask in the attention and flattery of important “grown-ups” like Hollywood stars and venal politicians equally ignorant about how global climate works.
In the “woke” children’s anti-carbon crusade––a word, of course, the progs have proscribed as “Islamophobic––callow youth are increasingly becoming the props in a fashionable farce whose sinister aim is dismantling the West’s economies, and further concentrating political and economic power at the expense of we the people.
This global publicity stunt shows why sensible people don’t take adolescents seriously––and why progressives want to lower the voting age––when it comes to complex issues of public policy and the trade-offs required by a participatory democracy. Most adolescents are by nature narcissists and drama queens, and think histrionic emotion is more important than cold facts, sound arguments, and real-world limits to gratifying their petulant demands for utopia. And they like nothing better than to have supposedly mature adults validate their feelings with attention and novel diagnoses of psychological ailments that cover for mere immaturity. So no surprise we’re now hearing about “eco-anxiety” caused by reports of impending “environmental doom,” calls to stave off a deadly “climate crisis,” as the Economist called a whole special issue hyping climate doom, and warnings that “panic is long overdue,” according to Salon.
The progs know that attention-craving teenagers are the perfect shock-troops for advancing the socialist goals of the left, just as they have been for the antigun lobby. And grownups are giving them a huge stage, including an appearance before the Democrat-controlled Congress by eco-mascots 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and Seattle’s seventeen-year-old Jamie Margolin. Margolin’s comments prove the old wisdom that children should be seen and not heard:
I want the entirety of Congress––in fact, the whole U.S. government–– to remember the fear and despair that my generation lives with every day, and I want you to hold on to it. How do I even begin to convey to you what it feels like to know that within my lifetime the destruction that we have already seen from the climate crisis will only get worse. What adds insult to injury is the fact that we keep getting promised what isn't there. On college applications, I keep getting asked what I want to be when I grow up . . . . Everyone who will walk up to me after this testimony saying I have such a bright future ahead of me will be lying to my face.
As Oscar Wilde said about the extravagantly lachrymose death of Dickens’ Little Nell, one would have to have a heart of stone to read this bathetic cri de coeur and not burst out laughing. If a well-fed, pampered, leisured American teenager–one of the richest human beings to ever walk the earth–thinks she lives in “fear and despair,” she should be packed off to Congo or Iran or Somalia or Venezuela and learn what real “fear and despair” feel like. That Republican Congressmen sat and listened to this blather is yet another instance of their reflexive preemptive cringe in the face of progressive nonsense and bullying.
And why let this appearance before Congress legitimize, even indirectly, the similarly lunatic climate policies proposed by the Dems’ primary candidates? According to the New York Post’s Jonathan Lesser,
Bernie Sanders, for instance, wants all of our electricity to come from renewable resources in just 10 years. Huh? In 2018, the single largest source of renewable energy was large hydroelectric dams, which many environmentalists want to ditch. Wind and solar power provided about 370 terawatt-hours of electricity, roughly 9% of all generation, which was around 4,200 TWh. How does he expect to generate 10 times more wind and solar in 10 years?
Likewise Paul Driessen, who also points out the fantastic silliness of the Dems’ “climate crisis” solutions that rely on “renewable” wind and solar:
So let’s suppose we blanket the United States with enough industrial-scale wind and solar facilities to replace the 3.9 billion megawatt-hours Americans used in 2018 – and we manufacture and install enough king-sized batteries to store sufficient electricity for seven straight windless or sunless days. We would need something on the order of one billion 100-kilowatt-hour, 1,000-pound lithium and cobalt-based battery packs – similar to what Tesla uses in its electric vehicles. (This does not include the extra battery storage required to charge up the cars, trucks, and buses we are supposed to replace with EVs.)
And we still have to calculate the costs of materials like iron, concrete, and rare-earth metals mined in countries that use child and slave labor: As Driessen points out, “For cobalt alone – say UNICEF and Amnesty International – over 40,000 Congolese children, as young as four years old, slave away in mines, from sunrise to sundown, six or even seven days a week. That’s today. Imagine how many will be needed to serve the ‘ethical green energy utopia.’” Throw in the expense of disposing worn-out components like solar panels and turbine blades, and the pollution caused by mining, constructing, and transporting all these materials, and it’s clear to anyone other than a quarter-educated teenager or a government subsidy-pirate that “free, clean, and renewable” is a pipe dream.
Except, of course, for hydroelectric and nuclear power, which are also renewable and free from CO2 emissions. But the climate catastrophists reject these obvious and cost-effective energy sources: Dams because they intrude on nature and disturb the animals; nuclear because of the still lingering antinuclear hysteria of the Seventies, that era’s big crisis du jour. Also, the antinuclear Dems claim, spent nuclear fuel is too dangerous to store. It doesn’t cut any ice with the catastrophists that Finland, for example––one of those prog pin-up countries so superior to our red-white-and-blue capitalist hell-hole––is building a safe, underground nuclear storage facility. Meanwhile we’ve been sitting on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site since 1987, thanks to the environmental lobbies that spend billions gratifying their nature-loving sensibilities at the expense of their fellow citizens.
But we all know what this whole show is really about. The “climate crisis” feeds off of ancient cultural stereotypes about nature as a benevolent mother whom we wicked moderns have sullied and raped with our industrial capitalism and pollution. This narrative serves as a pseudo-religion for wealthy secularized Westerners who take for granted carbon-powered industries and technologies that make idealizing nature affordable. And, unlike most religions, it conveniently requires only virtue-signaling, mouthing fashionable shibboleths, providing political support for policies hoi polloi bear the brunt of, and token “green” rituals like recycling bottles and cans, and buying overpriced “Organic” and “No GMO” foods no more nutritious or safe than the rest. It’s a cheap way to claim a superior status as one of the ecologically “saved,” and condemn to perdition the wicked, greedy “damned,” even as the righteous enjoy a comfortable life subsidized by cheap, carbon-based energy.
More sinister are the numerous green boondoggles that redistribute billions of dollars of public wealth to various institutions and industries through subsidies and research grants, and to the politicians and lobbyists and foundations that facilitate this scam as well as take their cut. They have to work night and day to prop up the anthropogenic, catastrophic global warming melodrama in order to keep the funds flowing by censoring and spinning the daily evidence that their 100-year-old “greenhouse” hypothesis is still a long time away from being proven a fact. That’s why they manipulate climate data and jigger the computer models–– so that there’s always unprecedented warming to hype. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has massaged temperature data to disappear the recent coldest weather in 20 years. Meanwhile Canada and other countries are destroying raw temperature data because they don’t comport with the “adjusted” numbers that always end up being warmer.
Finally, the real danger here is the continuous dismantling of the Constitution that checks concentrated, expansive power to keep it from encroaching even further on the rights of individuals and the sovereignty of the states. Progressives have for over a century been impatient with these barriers to their grandiose technocratic ambitions. You can hear it in one-time Secretary of State and Senator John Kerry’s tweet about the “climate crisis”: “We just can’t sit on our asses and leave the political process to Neanderthals who don’t want to believe in the future,” he told an audience in Australia. That says it all: The arrogant contempt of the self-proclaimed “bright” for the citizens whom the Constitution has given unalienable rights beyond the reach of government, and to whom it has bestowed a “political process” the primary aim of which is to check over-weeing, wannabe tyrants like John Kerry.
Don’t fall for the exploitation of immature, drama-prone children in order to misdirect us from the weakness of the alleged scientific “consensus,” or to camouflage the venal motives of buccaneering researchers and power-hungry politicians who, to paraphrase Petronius, “would pull a dollar out of the dung with their teeth.” The only way to handle any real crisis is to remain free, think for ourselves, and rely on ourselves, our families, our communities, and our common sense.