Last year a high school teacher reported that during a visit from American anti-oil sands activist Bill McKibben a frail girl with cerebral palsy stood up to say, “I am going to die young anyway, you make me think I should end my life sooner for the good of the planet.”
As a new school year approaches, the drumbeat of doom targeting our children is increasing to war cry proportions.
It is Catastrophe Week on National Geographic TV, while its print cover story chronicles ocean flooding up the Statue of Liberty’s chest. Time magazine’s cover shouts Bee Die-off to indicate the collapse of biodiversity.
No doubt there is more to come, with the preferred target of the doomsters the eager young minds of our children. Perhaps this propaganda is the true climate crime.
Remember, we have seen this before. Both Thomas Malthus, who in 1798 predicted a never-ending cycle of famine, squalor and disease, and Paul Erhlich, who in 1968 claimed that by 1985 “hundreds of millions are going to starve to death,” were not only wrong, they were hugely, unassailably wrong.
The real debate has moved on. The current debate among rational environmentalist is something called Peak Planet, or post-scarcity and the abundance economy.
In fact, human knowledge and inventiveness have so far outpaced the alarmists of our world that they are not only irrelevant but destructive of the public good. The planet is healing itself from the burst of industrialization that created the prosperity we enjoy today.
Population explosion? In North America, Europe, China and Japan, the birthrate is now at or below replacement levels, and even in sub-Saharan Africa fertility rates have dropped to near four children per woman. As countries develop, women have fewer children. Demographer Joel Cohen of Columbia University predicts that “many of us may live to see population peak in the middle of this century”. The UN agrees.
In the developed world, and even before the 2008 crash, people were consuming substantially less than in the 90′s. In the UK, Europe, Canada and the U.S., people are driving less and using less water, and theorists now believe that beyond a certain level of economic development people simply stop consuming so much.
In the developing world, resource use has become more efficient. New Scientist reports that, in 2008, Jesse Ausubel and Paul Waggoner of Rockefeller University drew on data covering 1980 to 2006 to argue that there had been “declining intensities of impact, from energy use and carbon emissions to food consumption and fertilizer use, globally and in countries ranging from the U.S., France, China, to India, Brazil and Indonesia”. They referred to the trend as economic “dematerialization.”
Here is more fact-based good news: shale gas is doing more to halt CO2 emissions than all the billions we have thrown away on climate “science”. Even the New York Times admits there has been no warming for 17 years.
It can be argued that this summer was the coldest summer on record at the North Pole. We recorded the highest August Arctic ice extent since 2006 and record high August Antarctic ice. There have been no major hurricane strikes for eight years (Sandy was a tropical storm when it hit New Jersey). It was the slowest tornado season on record, second lowest fire season in two decades, and four of the five snowiest winters in the northern hemisphere have occurred since 2008.
In Canada, ambient concentrations of sulphur dioxide decreased by 57 per cent between 1996 and 2009. Ambient levels of nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOC) dropped too. According to the internationally respected Environmental Performance Index (EPI), Canada is a world leader in terms of water quality. Our forest cover is not in decline, our soil is not eroding, nor desertifying, an 80 per cent improvement from decades ago.
Why don’t our children know these things? Because the environmental movement, and its allies in the media, have become abusive, and not just to our children.
Time to kick the hysterics out of the public square, and for pity’s sake, out of our schools.
Elizabeth Nickson is a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and the author of Eco-Fascists, How Radical Conservationists Are Destroying Our Natural Heritage (Harper Collins 2012)