(Originally published Sept. 24, 2019)
Wherever you come down on the debate over the global climate, we should all agree on a compromise:
Leave the kids out of it.
Over the last few months, the American media has helped turn the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg into a teen celebrity and role model. Students are being encouraged to participate in her weekly “Climate Strike,” which calls for skipping school until global action is taken on global warming.
Today Greta spoke at the United Nation’s Climate Action Summit, and parents worldwide got a clearer picture of the movement sweeping schools by ... storm.
Far from offering a compelling summation of the science animating her passion for the issue, Greta resembled the kind of apocalyptic prophesier scientists usually detest. Speaking with great certainty, but expressing no curiosity about the underlying science, Greta, instead invested her energy in emotionally connecting with climate change; she’s an evangelist for what happens to be a very dark worldview.
Greta believes free-market capitalism is polluting the world to such an extent that humanity’s continued existence is at best uncertain. Students participating in her climate strike almost universally believe that barring the birth of a new eco-centric world order, the world will end in less than 12 years. [See the montage above for more]
Notwithstanding, her opposition to studying and learning, Ms. Thunberg credits her elementary school for first exposing her to this brand of end-times environmentalism. And as American parents are increasingly realizing, that curriculum is growing steadily more ubiquitous.
Climate Strike participants frame the issue in starkly theological terms of good-versus-evil. Addressing the United Nations, Thunberg said: “You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.”
Born into what they perceive as a race against time, these young eco-evangelists portray their efforts as a righteous mission to save Earth itself. At the Climate Strike’s D.C. march last Friday, an 11-year-old girl told the crowd: “We are here because our parents trashed the planet and it’s up to our generation to save it.”
Believing life itself is on the cusp of collapse, many of these young protesters unsurprisingly express incredible anxiety.
“Like so many people my age, I feel really visceral anxiety about climate change,” a college student told Sen. Cory Booker at MSNBC’s climate change forum last week, a sentiment expressed by many of the other student participants.
Another 11-year-old girl at a Climate Strike protest said: “We have been polluting the Earth for years and we might actually die in a few years.”
Teachers, politicians, celebrity scientists, and irresponsible members of the media are filling these young minds with every worst-case scenario they can dream up. Being young, impressionable, and passionate, these students quickly become committed advocates for a doomsday eco-paganism that teaches us to associate consumption with guilt and democratic socialism with salvation.
As the face of this movement, many progressives have started depicting Thunberg in spiritual terms. ”Watching Greta Thunberg mobilize hundreds of thousands just through her presence and sincerity is like watching a 21st century version of how Saints or Miracle Workers used to emerge, shuffling whole kingdoms in the Middle Ages,” the British author Ben Judah wrote. He then compared her to the Catholic saint Joan of Arc: “Her purity, her visions of justice, apocalypse and the need to forgo. Moving millions, the way that mix has done so many times before ... like an environmental Joan of Arc.”
New York Magazine also likened the teen activist to Joan of Arc: “She was the Joan of Arc of climate change, commanding a global army of teenage activists numbering in the millions and waging a rhetorical war against her elders through the unapologetic use of generational shame.” A reader wrote in response: “Greta is honestly a prophet. she's one of the most inspiring figures I've seen in my lifetime.”
Thunberg unapologetically uses her pulpit not to spread hope, but fear.
“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope,” she told the Davos Economic Forum. “But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic.”
Her success in spreading panic was evident at Friday’s Climate Strike, where speaker after speaker appeared completely convinced Planet Earth was in the final stages of collapse.
“Our world is already in flames, it’s getting hotter, we can’t breathe,” one girl said. Another said: “Our oceans are choking with trash and the mass extinction is well under way.”
A teen boy says: “I’m angry because this planet is dying and the president of the biggest country in the world refuses to acknowledge that.”
Up against such bleak prospects, many of these young Americans say they’ve already foreclosed the possibility of bearing children themselves. “My conscience couldn’t handle the idea of bringing someone into a dying world,” a young man said during another climate protest in D.C. Monday.
When adults see people so young speak so apocalyptically, it’s hard to believe they’ve adopted this dark worldview after careful study and reflection. This is a generation being taught to view themselves as victims; Greta Thunberg says her generation was simply betrayed.
“You are failing us,” she said Monday. “But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Greta was ultimately successful in eliciting sympathy Monday, although not as the victim in an impending climate catastrophe. Instead, many expressed dismay over her having fallen victim to a concerted brainwashing campaign. In broadcasting her speech worldwide, the media is unwittingly undermining her campaign, as parents realize and worry their own kids are becoming adherents of Greta’s terrifying brand of end-times environmentalism.