Climate change is real, but that does not mean it can never be exaggerated. Only the absurdly naïve or irredeemably partisan will insist that opportunities to demand significant change are never exploited by people with ulterior motives. The same is true for climate change, which is a magnet for businesspeople pushing junk technology and impractical solutions because it will enrich them, for scientists whose pursuit of funding may have damaged their impartiality, and for celebrity propagandists who would exploit any excuse to hog the limelight. Unfortunately, the vast majority of children rank amongst the legions of the absurdly naïve. Kids believe what adults tell them because they lack the experience to assess how often adults mislead themselves and each other, and to understand the reasons why deceit will always persist in human society. This has led many children to join the climate change equivalent of the Hitler Youth.
Whilst societies may laud children, talking about them as future leaders whilst decrying the risk that they will have no future, it is also true that societies repeatedly manipulate youngsters for selfish purposes. That manipulation is no less evident if a child is indoctrinated into a religion, told how to shoot an assault rifle or encouraged to repeat mantras about climate change, some of which are true (the sea is hotter than it was) and some of which are false (wildfires are not being made worse by climate change). However, some good will come of the current middle class obsession with drumming the fear of imminent ecological collapse into impressionable minds. It will change the behaviour of children for the better, in lots of ways that children may otherwise resist. Here are five benefits of climate change hyperbole that should not be underestimated.
1. Eating Broccoli
Veganism is about as faddish a diet as it is possible to imagine, unless you believe there is something morally repugnant with an adult female animal feeding the milk her body has produced to her own child, or something perverse about that same nutritious liquid being ingested by a creature from a different species. The vegan diet is contrary to nature, because the human body evolved to digest far more than vegans will allow themselves. But the good thing about veganism is that it will force kids to eat their sprouts, and to pretend that they like them. No fish fingers, no hamburgers, no ice cream – kids will have none of the good things that children used to like and which drive up prices of tasty food for the rest of us. As a consequence, they will not be so fat, and will give up their right to whinge about being hungry all the time.
2. Walking to School
Nothing is more irritating than indulgent parents blocking the roads each day because their darlings need to be taxied around in SUVs. They will have to make the little buggers walk to school, no matter how short their legs are. Walking is good for their children’s health, as well as the environment. And if their little ones do not like walking for half an hour through the pouring rain, parents should point out how selfish their kids truly are, because the school run is contributing to climate change and hence making rain more likely.
3. No More Playgrounds
Concrete is an eyesore. Metal frames painted in bright colours are an eyesore. Playgrounds are an eyesore. Instead of chopping down woods to make space for playgrounds, we can grow some more trees and tell kids to play in them. Trees are nature’s equivalent of a playground. And if your littlest falls out of a tree and breaks his or her neck, then that is natural selection.
4. The End of Fashion
Kids may grow fast but that is no excuse to waste money on designer labels or endless piles of fast fashion. From now own, kids’ clothes should be worn out before they are thrown away, because clothes are generally bad for the environment. Their manufacture consumes resources, the dyes are polluting, and excessive washing also leads to increased use of water and detergents. Climate change means that instead of the constant race to be fashionable we will be able to force kids to stick to a limited wardrobe and to like it. Hand-me-downs are better for the environment than new clothes. Kids will have to wear clothes until they are threadbare, and if they make a hole in something they had better learn how to patch it up or else enjoy the increased exposure to the elements.
5. The Future Is the Past
The best thing about climate change is that it runs contrary to the modern obsession with ‘progress’. Kids are often pawns in a game where the objective is to demonstrate that the future must be better than what went before. As a result, children can be presented as leaders even when their strings are being pulled by their parents. It seems that some adults bring new life into the world because they want to own a lifelike puppet. They do this whilst ignoring the fact that there would be no climate crisis without the enormous population growth that has occurred in living memory. But the ironic beauty of environmental alarmism is that it makes the past look better than the future.
To prevent further climate change it is necessary for societies to abandon, curb or reverse many of the major improvements that made ordinary people freer, richer, and happier. This includes cars, a wider range of food, and foreign holidays. For children to be the ‘leaders’ of this change they will have to be like the children of the past: eating austere diets, walking or biking everywhere, wearing ugly but hard-wearing clothes, and making play with what is already available instead of demanding new forms of entertainment and new venues to occupy their time and interest.
Climate warrior kids should behave just like children did a hundred years ago, by being significantly less spoilt than is now the norm for modern brats. Their zealous fight against climate change will make them proud to reverse all the behaviours that children have sought for generation after generation. The childhood of our future leaders will look much like the childhood only remembered by the eldest members of our society. And if this proves not to be the case, and the kids want change without reverting to older ways of experiencing life and enjoying themselves, then they will still have taught society one important lesson: that children can be hypocrites just as much as adults.