“How dare you!” exclaimed Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, before the United Nations Climate Summit in September 2019. In December 2019, Time magazine named her the Person of the Year. Moving from obscurity to the global scene during 2019, she “inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history.”
When I first heard Thunberg’s speech, my response was, “How rude!” A person, especially a young person, ought to show more respect to government leaders, even if she profoundly disagrees with them. If she hadn’t been speaking on a hot-button politically correct topic, she might have been rejected by the UN.
Greta Thunberg commonly uses strong emotional language.
“I want you to panic. …“I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”
“People are underestimating the force of angry kids,” she said. “We are angry and frustrated, and that is because of good reason. If they want us to stop being angry then maybe they should stop making us angry.”Time Magazine December 23/30, 2019
So, what scared Greta into displaying such passion? Why does she, and others around the world, believe we’re going extinct and that entire ecosystems are collapsing? Are your children frightened as well?
To start off, I want to make clear that though I’m no tree hugger, I care about the environment. I’m all for reducing pollution and litter. I recycle, compost kitchen scraps, and try not to waste resources by turning off lights and avoiding unnecessary car trips.
Throughout my lifetime, environmental concerns have been a significant issue in America—or at least in the Pacific Northwest. In the 1970s, people fought against pollution and animal extinction. The 1973 Oil Embargo led to energy conservation.
People also spoke of global cooling in the 1970s. Over time, this idea shifted to global warming. Now, activists have rebranded the issue as climate change, and public enemy number one is carbon dioxide.
That’s crazy, I thought when I first heard that idea. How can CO2 be harmful when it’s what all people and animals naturally exhale and what plants need to live? Moreover, carbon dioxide represents only a small fraction of the elements that make up our atmosphere. Why worry?
In the past, I saw the need to study climate but not the urgency.
Now, as climate-change alarmists have gained political clout and are molding local, national, and international policies—and the minds of the young—I feel compelled to understand better the issue to be an informed citizen.
I started by asking, Why are today’s youth so frightened about climate change? Besides Thunberg’s fear and rage, I heard a radio show host describe a conversation she had with a young man on an airplane. Though in his mid-twenties, he had no plans for the future. Why make any plans if there won’t be a future due to climate change?
Have students not been introduced to both sides of the issue? In perusing conservative news, I’ve read a few articles from the skeptics’ point of view. So, I had a rudimentary knowledge of the subject before I began my research. I understood that differing opinions, even in the Christian community, existed.
But apparently, many teachers do not. It makes me angry when academia frightens their captive audience—children and young people—into believing the sky is falling without discussing the pros and cons of an issue such as climate change. It’s even worse that they don’t vet out misleading information.
For instance, the frequently quoted 97 percent consensus for Anthropogenic Global Warming is fabricated. Yes, nearly all scientists agree that the climate is changing, and has always been changing. However, many question the degree of change and the primary cause of it. But the PC crowd has declared the skeptics’ points of view as nonsense and refuse them any time in school discussions or in the media.
To learn what students might be reading on the subject, I checked out a few books from the library, two juveniles, one teen, and one adult book (which I may discuss later) with the pro-alarmist climate change point of view.
Climate Change: Discover How It Impacts Spaceship Earth
by Joshua Sneideman and Erin Twamley
White River Junction, VT: Nomad Press (2015), ages 9-12
This nonfiction picture book explains how the climate works, how it is changing, how scientists collect data on the climate, and gives a call to action to combat climate change.
These topics seem straight forward; however, the authors lead the reader to their point of view with comments such as
“The statistics on global climate change may seem glaringly obvious” (20).
“Whatever our attitudes now, climate change is a fact and it is already happening…and we need to work together” (44).
These authors fail to mention the existing controversy among scientists.
Analyzing Climate Change: Asking Questions, Evaluating Evidence, and Designing Solutions
by Philip Steele
New York: Cavendish Square (2017), juvenile nonfiction
Similar to the above text, this book speaks of the dangers of extreme weather—floods, droughts, superstorms— and human misery—famine, disease, and death—climate change will cause if we don’t act now.
But unlike the Spaceship Earth text, this book attempts to acknowledge some disagreements with a few pro-and-con sidebars. Still, author Philip Steele clearly leans toward the political-correct side of the arguments. For instance, in the section on fossil fuels, he gives this argument:
- Pros: powered modern way of life; used to make plastics; made travel easier.
- Cons: emit carbon dioxide; pollute land, sea, and air; major cause of global warming.
All can agree with the pro statements. The con statements that fossil fuels produce carbon dioxide and pollute our environment can be proven empirically. Yet, whether CO2 is genuinely a problem and that fossil fuels are a significant cause of global warming are not “settled science.”
Analyzing Climate Change also features the well-known hockey stick temperature graph, which skeptical scientists have shown it to be a fraud.
Climate Change: A Groundwork Guide
By Shelley Tanaka, revised edition
Berkeley, CA: Groundwood Books (2006, 2016), teen
This teen book covers the same topics with the same viewpoint as the others but at a greater depth. Disaster is coming.
“And all over the globe there would be a battle for the world’s arable land, energy and, especially, fresh water” (63). The book contains much of the same doom and gloom as the children’s books.
However, Shelley Tanaka does expose the uncertainty of climate change predictions to some extent.
Computer models “are far from perfect—critics say their results are so broad as to be next to useless—because no matter how sophisticated the model, it can never factor in many complexities that affect climate.”p. 66
But she still clings to the idea that climate change is bad.
“Nobody knows for sure precisely how high carbon dioxide levels will rise, or what exactly will happen as a result. But climatologists are certain about one thing. … global warming will bring more harm than good to humans. The problem is not just the fact of global warming—something the planet has experienced many times before. It is the speed of the warming, and the impact this will have on a crowded planet.”p. 77, emphasis mine
As a bibliophile, I’m drawn to books, but younger people prefer video over long text. So, I investigated a few shorter climate change videos on YouTube. With ominous music and footage of destructive storms and parched deserts and voice-overs that speak of extinction and collapse of civilization draw a stronger emotional response than books do. No wonder our kids are freaked out. Here are some examples: “Climate Change Explained” and “Climate Change.”
Instead of using reason and valid scientific evidence, the alarmists use emotion, particularly fear, to motivate people to act on their worldview.
Searching for videos on climate skeptics, the only hits I found were politically correct responses to skeptics’ arguments. I found no videos that supported a skeptics’ point of view. Telling. You have to go to other platforms for those.
Critical Thinking Needed
In conclusion, student resources appear not to provide both sides of the story. Schools claim to teach critical thinking skills, which suggests they teach students to look at a controversial issue from several angles. Yet, the educational resources weigh heavy on the alarmist side of the climate change issue.
Parents of publicly educated children, keep this in mind. When popular leftist issues such as climate change come up in conversation, ask your kids if they know about the different sides of the problem.
Explain to your children that school may present specific ideas as truth but are actually controversial. Also, point out the difference between an emotional appeal and a rational argument. Parents must train their children in critical thinking skills when public schools neglect to.