Young, Dumb, and Scared: Big Green and the Existential Protection Racket
What keeps the environmental activism industry in business? Fear. (Part IV of the Washington Examiner/PJM special report on the environmental movement.)
September 30, 2010 - 12:00 am
The Washington Examiner is publishing a five-part special report in association with PJ Media on “Big Green”: the alliance of the Democratic Party, environmental groups, and activists in the progressive movement. It’s not just a band of flannel-shirted environmentalists any longer; it’s become a big-money, major player in Washington power politics and American elections.
In part four of a five-part series, we ask: What keeps the environmental activism industry in business? Fear. And their method? Get them young, keep them dumb, and scare the hell out of them.
The summer between when I graduated from sixth grade and began junior high school in seventh grade — which makes it after the invention of the wheel, fire, and the telephone, but while telephones still needed wires — I started hearing stories about what junior high school would be like: older kids demanding lunch money, and sometimes just beating younger kids up because they could.
I was terrified. Then I went to school on the first day and discovered the worst part was learning my locker combination; the stories I’d been hearing were just that, stories, told by people for their own purposes.
Now, fast forward to high school — I was a sophomore, and much wiser in the ways of the world, I was sure. But there were terrible problems confronting us: Paul Ehrlich told us that by the 1980s, the “population bomb” would lead to famines throughout the world and mass die-offs due to starvation in India and China. Dick Lamm, then a Colorado state representative, predicted that by the 1980s single-family homes and multiple-child families would be illegal. Time and Newsweek predicted the coming ice age would end civilization as we knew it.
I was terrified. I went to school, and made signs, and marched in the first Earth Day demonstrations. And in the meantime, Ehrlich got rich on The Population Bomb, Dick Lamm rode a successful environmental campaign to drive the Olympics out of Colorado to become governor in 1972, and dozens of newborn and existing environmental and conservation groups were on their way to becoming the immensely wealthy and powerful environmental activism industry. Any counter-arguments were dismissed, or — this being the days of complete mainstream media dominance — simply not reported at all.
The environmental activism industry had learned a lesson: get them young, get them dumb and keep them dumb, and scare the hell out of them.
Start with The Story of Stuff, a 20-minute “documentary” targeted to children (“get them young”) using questionable statistics that most kids wouldn’t have the resources to check (“get them dumb”). Continue with the “documentary” Gasland, which makes a number of claims about hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for natural gas production that, well, turn out not to be verifiable (“get them dumb”) or even turn out to be flat out made up, illustrated with video of flaming water faucets (“scare the hell out of them”) that turn out to be “gassy” wells that our great-grandparents here in the West were complaining about a hundred years ago.
As a method, of course, it works wonderfullyGet young kids, and present anything you like in an authoritative voice with a teacher behind it, and they’ll believe it. With some technical subject, like well-fracturing, their teachers probably don’t know much more than what’s in the movie, and only rare parents will know any better.
The result is that the environmental activism industry picks up some new foot-soldiers — by far the majority of the demonstrators at environmental demonstrations are in their late teens or early twenties — and lots of publicity that pushes the grants, that fund the lawsuits, that pay for the political actions, that lead to more grants.
Underneath it all, of course, it’s really a protection racket. “Nice little planet you have here. Be a shame if something happened to it. And, oh, did you hope to have children and grow old? Forget it unless you do what we tell you.”
It worked on a particular 15 year old in Colorado in 1970. It was some years before I realized there wasn’t any mass famine, that copper and iron and coal seemed to still be available, and that the oil crisis had been political, not an actual shortage of oil.
“Get them young, keep them dumb, and scare the hell out of them” — and ride it to fame, wealth, and power.