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Global warming myths — what's the harm?

Local Commentary

Posted: June 15, 2008 3:30 p.m.
Updated: August 16, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Last fall, a U.K. high court judge ruled the global warming film "An Inconvenient Truth" could be shown in schools, but it contains nine scientific errors. Thirty-five errors were exposed by Lord Christopher Monckton, a policy adviser to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, in his document entitled "35 Inconvenient Lies."

At this point one wonders if the name of Al Gore's celebrated, Oscar Award-winning eco flick should be changed to "An Inconvenient Myth."

Yet many of our children are forced to watch this film in school and are "greenwashed" into believing its contents about how man-made global warming will cause intense hurricanes, rapidly declining polar ice caps, and animal extinction. No lions, no tigers, no bears, oh my!

So why are children intensely bombarded with eco gloom and doom? Is it possible adults aren't buying into this scientifically unfounded message?

Hardly. A recent decision was made to add the polar bear to the threatened species list. But there's insufficient evidence to support the threatened status, making the animals' so-called peril more myth than fact.

Fact is, Mitch Taylor, a polar bear biologist, puts the current population up 40 percent since 1974. This decision will certainly generate efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions by blocking vital oil and gas development in Alaska. It marks a huge victory for extreme environmentalists but a major defeat for us with gas prices exceeding $4 a gallon.

Politicians who are bombarded with doom and gloom images of Arctic meltdowns and drowning polar bears apparently adopt bad bills. But children are impacted in psychological ways. A new term, "eco-phobia,"
has been coined for this growing problem, and it can affect kids in many ways.

A therapist in Northern California reports seeing increased numbers of young patients preoccupied with fears of "climatic Armageddon."

An elementary school girl forced to watch "An Inconvenient Truth" once a month at school had nightmares about drowning in the film's predicted scary sea level rise.

Even a radical eco group's survey admits that 60 percent of children worry about global warming "a lot." Unfortunately, their solution to relieve kids' worries is to "empower" them by teaching them ways to save the world.

Sure, no worry there! Why should kids worry about shouldering the burden of earth's impending demise before it's too late?

Nevertheless, they are "empowered" into changing their lifestyles and forcing others to do so, as well.

In a recent New York Times article, an 11-year-old boy in Chappaqua conducted a week-long stand outside his school. He took this "empowerment" to heart by carrying protest signs that admonished parents who drove their children to school in cars, even though many of these parents lived in rural areas where no buses ran.

Surprisingly, no one told this boy to go fly a kite.

Not in a dismissive way, but as a healthy suggestion: Literally fly a kite, skate or any number of fun outdoor activities kids used to enjoy before having to save the planet by controlling the behavior of others.

Arguably, this isn't empowering children but turning them into codependents. Maybe a new term will be coined for this, as well: "Eco-dependent" comes to mind.

The article goes on to report that one of the boy's teachers was the inspiration for his actions, while another proudly commented that his was the best protest she'd ever seen. Sadly, there was not one teacher to explain that science should not be a given, but questioned and proved, nor was there one who inspired him to engage in critical thinking after researching this topic.

This is, after all, the age of the Internet, where eco-myths can be readily dispelled. For example:
n DDT kills! On the contrary, DDT is a chemical that has prevented millions of human deaths due to malaria. For a startling grasp of the unconscionable and immoral tragedy to ban DDT, one only needs to visit to www.rachelwaswrong.com.

n Timothy Ball of the Scientific Advisory Committee of Natural Resources Stewardship Project reveals another: "The erroneous belief that CO2 is a pollutant."

Clearly myths are a part of children's lives: the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus. However, these myths give pleasure to their lives.

Eco-myths do exactly the opposite. They rob children of joy and replace it with fear for their future, an unattainable responsibility to save the world, contempt for America's past industrial accomplishments and for her future progress.

Al Sonja Schmidt resides in Canyon Country. She is a veteran television comedy writer/producer and author of a newly released children's book, "Deb and Seby's Real Deal on Global Warming." Her column reflects her own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.

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