Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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Indoctrinate My Parents

The NYT highlights a new paradigm for the environment.  Using kids to indoctrinate their parents into the Way of the Green.  A little light fisking music maestro.

Thursday is the 40th anniversary of the original Earth Day. Over the years, the impact of this once seminal day has lessened.

The reason the impact has lessened, as I noted in an earlier post, is that things have gotten better over the last 40 years.  Our air and water are cleaner; our utilities and cars are cleaner and more efficient; our lives are healthier, happier and longer.  Earth Day was a lot more urgent when cities were drowning in smog and lakes were dying.  The remaining problems—resource shortages, overfishing, etc.—have solutions that are being worked on.  As for global warming, it’s not at all clear how big a problem that’s going to be.

Here’s a move in the right direction: launching this Earth Day is Green My Parents, a nationwide effort to inspire and organize kids to lead their families in measuring and reducing environmental impact at home. Not just on Earth Day, but every day. GMP’s initial goal is to have its first 100 youth advocates train and educate 100 peers (who will then turn to 100 of their respective peers and so on), with the aim of saving families $100 million between now and April 2011.

Am I the only one a little creeped out by this?  We’re one step away from using kids to inform on parents. 

(I’ll also note that what I call “The Hope of The Exponent”—that 100 will teach 100 will teach 100, etc.—is usually the sign of desperate movement.)

How? By washing in cold water, walking or biking to school/work and kicking the bottled-water habit, for example. GMP’s founders suggest that by taking simple steps like those, the average family could save over $1,000 each year.

I’m all in favor of getting rid of bottled water (voluntarily).  But washing in cold water?  Walking to work?  You don’t want to be anywhere on time and smelling good, do you?  All conservation is not equal.  You have to weigh how much money you are saving against how much inconvenience you’re creating.  Kids are notoriously bad at this, as anyone who has spent an hour arguing with a kid about socks can relate.

GMP recognizes that young people are inherently attuned to their environment and understand the importance of protecting it. Conversations I’ve had with kids of late reveal real worries about the future of the planet and concerns about their inability to act.

Bullshit.  As Don Boudreaux notes:

Kids aren’t inherently attuned to the environmental condition of even their own bedrooms, as a peek into a typical twelve-year-old’s room will instantly prove.  So it’s asinine to think that children “inherently” care about the condition of Siberia or of Brazilian rainforests.

Today’s prattling by young people about how awfully dirty the globe is reflects not kids’ “inherent” tuning-in to the global environment but, instead, their indoctrination – performed by teachers and popular media – into the Church of Gaia.

Children who express concern about the environment do so because they are impressionable and are, more often than not, being told doom and gloom stories by their teachers.  Sal 11000 Beta is not old enough for this, but all of my friends with older children have had the experience of their children coming home from school, filled with despair that the planet is being destroyed.  Even in my kid’s day care, she had to bring a list of three things she was doing to save the planet.

Children believe the planet is dying, not because they are inherently attuned to the Earth, but because their teachers tell them the planet is dying.  Even problems that have long been on the upswing—deforestation, acid rain and overpopulation—are still trotted out as the End of the World in our nation’s classrooms.  I once spent part of an afternoon deprogramming a nephew about the deforestation of North America.

The NYT story gets even worse from what I’ve quoted above.  It praises kids for “not thinking about limitations, but about good ideas”.  But our world is defined by limitations.  And the problem with green policy being implemented is not that people don’t care or are unaware of environmental concerns.  It’s that there are always tradeoffs involved and not everyone agrees on the relative weights of the important concerns.

Honestly, Earth Day brings out the worst ideas.  This article is literally praising the indoctrination of impressionable kids so that they can be used to emotionally blackmail their parents into engaging in “green” activities (which are often not green at all).

Sigh. At least there’s always George Carlin to set us right.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/25/10 at 06:35 PM in Science and Technology • Permalink

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