'When asked to choose the 3 biggest threats to the world from a list of 9, the most common answer is terrorism, chosen by more than half (59%), followed by climate change (49%).'
Primary school children have been visited by this group in the past. Although their teaching materials are not available to non-members on their site, my concerns that they may be the usual alarmist stuff are not allayed by listening to this song sung and partly composed by children at a NEAD event at a school in October last year:
'The Norfolk Flood Blues'
It is quite hard to make out all the words, but it seems to begin with stamping of feet in time to the music, while chanting
'Rain Flood Rain Flood Rain Flood Rain Flood ...'
Later on, I think I heard these phrases (please email corrections or confirmations about these!):
'Water in my home, Water in my bed'
'It's destroying everything'
'I feel doomed. I feel scared.'
Pictures of the children and some of the adults involved in this can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nead_dec/sets/72157625120574255/detail/
The pupils will have some difficulty in discerning ‘climate change’ in such a display, dominated as it is by within-year variation. Throughout this period, CO2 levels grew, along with increasingly agitated pleas and warnings from people who ought to have known better, such as James Hansen who in 1986 was warning of mean global temperature rises of several degrees by the year 2010. Since the computer models suggest the temperature rises will be greater away from the equatorial regions towards the poles, a naive observer might well have expected more action in the Lowestoft data by now. Could it be that the models are also useless for predicting such things?
Unfortunately, NEAD fits their bill, as evidenced by information in their most recent annual report:
(1) more than 90% of their funding comes from the Department for International Development (see page 17 of the report)
(2) they seek to influence policy, e.g. on page 7:
Standing on actual or virtual platforms to broadcast your concern for others and demand ‘action’ does not provide any magic to prevent you, in the end, making everyone worse off, not least the very people you wished to help in the first place. You still have a responsibility to do research and check, check, and check again with good data as opposed to good intentions, or the projections of feeble models of the climate. I think development groups in general, and NEAD in particular, would do well to steer clear of the clamour around 'climate change due to humanity'. They may well see some short-term advantage in it, but that will change very rapidly indeed when sufficiently many people have seen through the weak science and strong PR that underpins it. Such as the people who contribute to this site on the topic of 'eco-imperialism'.
That would help adults work on real problems, including those of world development, and perhaps give more children a chance to enjoy their childhood without being pushed prematurely, and without anything like adequate justification, into either anxiety or political action.
Footnote 1 (added 26th March). The survey was not a random sampling of any kind. From the report:
'School Report invited the 804 schools, signed up to the project in the relevant period to take part, 329 did so. There was no maximum or minimum limit to the number of children at each school that could take part. The average participation rate was 73 but figures ranged from 1 to 7841. There is no claim that those responding to the School Report Survey are representative of all 11-16 year olds because of self-selecting nature of the schools that take part and the sample of children therein. However there is some evidence that the schools taking part in School Report are broadly representative of schools across the UK and that those taking part in the Survey are representative of that group2.'
Footnote 2 (added 27th March). That as many as 50% of secondary-age children have this melodramatic view of climate variation has not been established by this survey, in view of the self-selection involved (by schools, and by pupils within them). It only shows that some children in some schools have this view, although the authors of the report indicate that they find it plausible that the national figure could be somewhat similar.
Footnote 3 (added 28th March). An opinion poll reported on today (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/03/25/old-men-in-midlands-are-the-biggest-climate-sceptics-115875-23013783/): 'A poll for this week’s Climate Week also found 45% of the younger generation think climate change is man-made but only 26% of people close to retiring age agree.'.