'Every year climate science seems to get less sure until I want to shout 'Just vanish back into obscurity until you've got a handle on this mess! Go on, go to your room and don't come out till your predictions last longer than it takes the ink to dry on them." '
Jun 29, 2013 'TinyCO2' commenting at Bishop Hill
Friday, 9 July 2010
"Throughout my school life we have had talks on climate change, and what we can do to prevent it. People my age are terrified of what might happen to our planet" Quote from a 15-year old.
Adults discussing theories about climate and speculating about disasters is one thing.
But pushing speculations as facts, 'facts' that will scare children, is quite another.
I suppose that many, perhaps most, of the people campaigning in and around schools about the climate have no wish to 'scare children witless', to quote from (3), but it is hard to see how their vivid preoccupation with doom-laden speculations can do anything else. Some will see through them (in due course), some will ignore them, some will be scared by them.
Here are some recent reports of some that were scared, from three countries:
New Zealand. Source: (1).
'Today's children are worried about more than just their homework and peer pressure - they are also worried about terrorism and climate change and whether there will be a future for their own children.
Auckland University Researcher Fiona Pienaar interviewed children aged 8-12 for her PhD to find out what stressed them out and how they coped.'
'Global warming and how a natural disaster would affect their lives were two other issues for children.
"I'm worried about the environment and the global warming, the ice and how it's going. I write it down in my little notebook ... I'm thinking people should actually stop the global warming before it's too late for their children," said one child.
'"The future, if we have children, would there be a future for them?" asked one child.'
'Ms Pienaar said that in the past children tended to think of themselves as immortal but these days things have changed. They are far more exposed to the media and their parents' stress issues, which has led to a greater awareness of potentially stressful world issues.'
'When children have those concerns it can be very distracting and I don't think it's surprising that we have increasing behaviour problems, increasing diagnosis of childhood anxiety disorders and childhood depression.'
USA. Source: (2).
'An article by Johanna Sorrentino at Education.com (titled "Get Your Kids Global Warming Savvy") reveals survey results "of more than 1,000 middle school students across the country [that] found that kids fear global warming more than war, terrorism or the health care crisis." Not only does this statement suggest the US has a non-existent "health care crisis" but it demonstrates the dangerous power of misinformation in education. Sorrentino's article is full of the very misinformation that leads to the unwarranted fear children have about "global warming."'
The source article, by Bob Webster, goes on to explain why, and he also recommends a book for children on climate:
'... parents who want to provide a good education about global warming and climate change (and how teachers are misleading students), there is an excellent book for "kids [who] fear global warming more than war, terrorism or the health care crisis." It is The Sky's Not Falling - Why It's OK to Chill about Global Warming (for children and adults) by Holly Fretwell .... Well organized, this book presents a fairly comprehensive view of climate change and global warming designed to calm any fears children may have from gross exaggerations they may have heard at school, on TV, or in other media. While the book is written for children, it is excellent for adults whose education failed to prepare them to understand why the notion that humans can cause "climate change" is absurd.'
UK. Source: (3).
'Today, it is not the mushroom cloud that threatens to suffocate children psychologically but carbon emissions. The new bogeyman is climate change: submerger of nations, polluter of skies, slayer of polar bears.'
Here is one 15 year old quoted in the article:
'Throughout my school life we have had talks on climate change, and what we can do to prevent it. People my age are terrified of what might happen to our planet; it has been drilled into our brains at school, home and even on TV. We watch the news and see earthquakes, flooding, tsunamis, and we hope that by the time we are our parents’ ages we will not be having to cope with these routinely.'
Some more disturbing quotes are in the article, but here is one by the journalist who wrote it:
'Teaching children about man-made climate change — which is very real and threatens our wellbeing — and persuading them to adopt green habits is essential, but it can be done without scaring them witless.'
Note the casual and confident assertion that 'man -made climate change ... is very real and threatens our wellbeing'. Not surprising, since this is the establishment view. But shocking, all the same. Can the journalist argue a case to defend her assertions, or would she resort to appealing to the 'authority' of the IPCC? I suspect she has acquired her opinion because there is a lot of it about, like some kind of 'flu.
Not all journalists have caught the infection, thank goodness. Here is a recent piece in the Washington Times which is sensible about climate change: (4).
But it is not just passive exposure to the media and their parents. There is a widespread and generously funded level of deliberate pushing of climate change concerns on to children. I am accumulating lists of sites that produce propaganda aimed at children, or entice them into climate-related networking groups, or 'action groups', or provide materials and project ideas for parents and teachers to push the IPCC line on climate. I plan to publish my 'list so far', in the near future. In the meantime, there is an illustrated list of 16 'climate propaganda' sites here (5), and of these, at least 4 are specifically aimed at children. And, to end on a postive note, here is a UK link to Amazon for the book mentioned earlier (6). I have this book, and I thoroughly recommend it. [Note added 16 July: the book has several technical errors which would need to be corrected before it was good enough to give to youngsters, but it is an excellent source of perspective and ideas for teachers.]