Turning children into Orwellian eco-spiesFrank Furedi recalls being educated through fear in Stalinist Hungary, and is disturbed that the same tactics are now used by environmentalists.
If you want to know how it works, watch the official opening video of the Copenhagen summit on climate change (see below). Titled ‘Please Help The World’, the four-minute film opens with happy children laughing and playing on swings. A sudden outburst of rain forces them all to rush for cover. The message is clear: the climate threatens our way of life. It then cuts to a young girl who is anxiously watching one TV news broadcaster after another reporting on impending environmental catastrophes. Then we see the young girl tucked into bed, sweetly asleep as she embraces her toy polar bear… but suddenly we’re drawn into her nightmare. She’s on a parched and eerie landscape; she looks frightened and desolate; suddenly the dry earth cracks and she runs in terror towards the shelter of a distant solitary tree. She drops her toy polar bear in a newly formed chasm and yells and screams as she holds on to the tree for dear life. The video ends with groups of children pleading with us: ‘Please help the world.’ You get the picture.
Although this video is a product of the gathering at Copenhagen, it is typical of the kind of propaganda that is constantly directed at children these days. In a world where moral education seems to be exhausted, where teachers are reluctant to judge or to explain the difference between right and wrong, environmentalism has become one of the few values that educators feel comfortable with. Which is why environmentalism and its values now saturate the school curriculum in Britain and some other countries, too.
In medieval times, religion was central to the teaching of virtually every subject. Students were left in no doubt where the church stood on the smallest details of every topic they were learning about. Today, environmental concerns have been integrated into the curriculum, to the point where they often dominate subjects like geography, science and Personal Health and Social Education and intrude into history and literature, too. The growing significance of environmental issues in the school curriculum is directly proportionate to society’s broader moral illiteracy and loss of purpose. Today, even religious studies often appears as a sub-branch of the dogma of environmental alarmism.
By transmitting their values to children, the scaremongers hope to channel children’s indignation into hostility towards older generations that are apparently destroying the planet. In the Copenhagen video we hear a child talking about her ‘anger’. When she says ‘I am only a child’, the implication is clear: adults have let children down.
Others go a step further and blame older generations for destroying the environment to such an extent that the survival of future generations is put in jeopardy. The message is that adults are greedy or stupid, or both. This downbeat assessment of adults’ behaviour has mutated into outright hostility towards the moral status of the older generations and their so-called ‘wisdom’. ‘Adults have ruined our world’, says the headline to an article in an online magazine targeting children.
In previous times, it was only totalitarian societies that mobilised children to police their parents’ behaviour. It was Orwellian, Big Brother-style states that tried to harness youngsters’ simplistic views of good and evil to reshape the outlook of adults. But who needs Big Brother when the former prime minister of Britain, Tony Blair, can openly assert that ‘on climate change, it is parents who should listen to their children’? It appears that preying on children’s fears and exploiting their anxiety is now considered to be a form of enlightened education. Yet the future of our children demands that we provide them with existential and moral security. Instead of feeding them on a steady diet of scaremongering, we need to inspire them about our potential to improve the future of our world.
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As I have pointed out, the media (see my case-study of the Hindustan Times) are shamefully fully involved in giving children nightmares and turning them against adults.