In Fargo this week, there was a climate change town hall organized by Fargo City Commissioner John Strand.
It was well-attended, featuring dozens of speakers with different ideas for how Fargo, as a community, could address the issue.
Remember, for many of these people, we are beyond the point of debating whether or not some sort of climate change apocalypse is really in the offing. For them, that’s an article of faith, and you’re not allowed to merely acknowledge that climate is changing. You have to believe in their version of the end times. Those disputing it are guilty of sin as grievous as, say, Holocaust denial.
Anyway, Fargo Forum reporter Barry Amundson covered the event, and his article is worth your time to read if you haven’t already.
This quote, heartbreaking in its earnestness, is what we want to focus on for the purposes of this post:
Ryan Livdahl, a Fargo South sophomore, was among the students requesting a city emergency declaration. He said, “I just want to live until I’m 50.”
His classmate, Nash Penner, said state and world leaders have “done nothing for so long” and Fargo could set an example as North Dakota’s biggest city.
“I just want to live until I’m 50.”
This is an American child who is scared he might not live far into middle age.
How did we get to this point?
We shouldn’t be surprised that some kids feel this way. After all, the meeting Livdahl attended was one in which some attendees demanded that the city declare a “climate emergency.”
An emergency. As in a “dangerous situation requiring immediate action.”
When allegedly serious-minded adults say that sort of thing, are we surprised that the children are frightened? And it’s not like this is a new development. The parents of some of the children who spoke at this townhall were probably groomed by global warming propaganda when they were younger. I can remember reading about the evils of coal companies in my science class and going home to watch Captain Planet beat up loggers and oil company executives on television.
Thing is, the halls of history are littered with dried up husks of doom-saying political and social movements. The advancement of humanity has ever been paralleled by one faction after another insisting that apocalypse is just around the corner unless we accede to their sets of laws or moral codes. Sometimes the movements are religious (like Millerism, for instance), and sometimes they have their roots in science (see the various iterations of the Malthusian catastrophe).
Somehow, despite mostly ignoring these movements, humanity has soldiered on (imperfectly, admittedly) to ever-greater heights of health and prosperity. (Sadly, the decline in American life expectancy of late seems due mostly to self-inflicted causes such as drug/alcohol abuse, obesity, and suicide).
I’m all for an endless debate about how humankind can be better stewards of the environment. For instance, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to have a discussion on how we use and dispose of plastics in our society. Unfortunately, so much of the modern environmental movement is built on an apocalyptic foundation. We are told that we must either adhere to its strictures or die.
That’s the wrong message to send.
Humanity has risen to and defeated every challenge it has ever faced. We are already rising to modern environmental challenges (for instance, though U.S. carbon emissions have spiked recently, they’re also near the bottom of a decades-long decline).
We’re-all-gonna-die rhetoric is excellent fodder for stirring speeches and fundraising. It usually makes for poor public policy, however.
If those folks who gathered in Fargo really want to make progress with their cause, they’d be better served by knocking off the scare tactics and getting real.