Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kids and the Environment

Nowhere in American society is "green" orthodoxy pushed more stridently than in our schools. Green activists have admitted that indoctrinating children to hector their parents about environmental issues is a key plank in their plan to mold an envirorthodox society. We see the result now in a survey that shows a third of American preteens fear an "environmental apocalypse" and over half believe they will grow up to a world less healthy than they enjoy now. (I'm sure the parents of the remaining sixth will be getting concerned phone calls any day now). The survey's a bit hard to read much into, as the article on TreeHugger.com doesn't break down the actual questions or responses. It's still clear that America's youngsters are fully indoctrinated into the Left-environmentalist dogma that we're on a downward ecological spiral. The irony, of course, is that the environment of North America and Europe has been getting cleaner and healthier for decades, and even carbon emissions per person have been more or less level. There's a simple reason, too: we've gotten richer. John Tierney argues in the New York Times that in light of the historical evidence showing that societies inevitably get greener as they get richer, the best thing we can do for the world is to help poor countries develop faster. I couldn't agree more. Nations pass through stages of development that simply cannot be skipped. One of those stages is pretty dirty, and half the world's population is at or just about to enter that stage. Nothing is going to keep them from digging up and using the cheap energy at their disposal. Even if it were feasible -- and it isn't -- deceiving or strongarming the world's poor into pursuing some rich man's vision of "green development" will only trap them longer in poverty and its attendant environmental consequences.

4 comments:

Melody said...

Are you worried about the kids being indoctrinated? I was indoctrinated in the late 60s and early 70s, and I grew out of it. Not to say we shouldn't worry, but most kids will, eventually, embrace their parents' values. And if their parents have a sensible view of the environment, all the indoctrination in the world isn't going to change that.
That's why a Hitler would have to separate the child from the parents, not just indoctrinate.

Shane said...

I'm not too concerned about indoctrinating children. I agree with Melody here - people will grow into their own views. Besides, I think America has always fostered a real diversity of social and political ideas. You and I can hold different views and still be friends.

Regardless, "dirty" development is not necessarily inevitable or necessary. Maybe China with its large coal reserves will be burning dirty coal for a long time. But not every developing nation has that option. Brazil may be able to create a sustainable ethanol infrastructure. And even China, with its plentiful coal, sometimes sees the value in dialing back the pollution for quality of life (and showing off for the world).

Real technological gains in efficiency will trickle down to the third world much faster - third world countries don't seem to use many incandescent light bulbs. Meanwhile, developing countries seem to be far less likely to develop a musclecar subculture with its energy inefficiency. My point is that the guys playing catchup will have a lot of lessons they can learn from our experience, and they can speed through the inefficient eras much faster. Already some of them are surpassing us in energy-efficient transportation infrastructure. Anyway, I think the future is difficult to predict, which is probably why we like doing it so much anyway.

Evan said...

You've got a good point there, if anything, developing countries are likely to move through the dirty phases of industrialization far faster than the West did, since they already have the roadmap to follow, so to speak. Also, their opportunity to leapfrog technologically will be a huge asset to them, and the environment.

Evan said...

And no, I'm not actually "worried" per se about the views of children. It's just a convenient demonstration of the prevalence of the environmental catastrophe narrative.