Belmont Club

While other monsters roamed the earth

Meanwhile, who cares about the security of Pakistani nukes, the Taliban or al-Qaeda. Global Warming is the greatest threat facing mankind today! The UK’s chief scientific adviser, David King, said that ‘climate change’ was a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism. Meghan Cox Gurdon, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says that today’s well educated child has nightmares about her father ordering seared tuna in a restaurant, not experiencing a dirty bomb in New York City.

Susceptible children are left in no doubt that we’re all headed for a despoiled, immiserated future unless they start planting pansies in their old shoes, using dryer lint as mulch, and practicing periodic vegetarianism. Not surprisingly, many young people are anxious. The more impressionable among them are coming to believe that their smallest decisions could have catastrophic effects on the globe. This, of course, is nonsense, unless their smallest decision involves tipping vats of mercury into forest streams. But they’re children, for goodness’ sake: They tend to believe what adults tell them — minus the nuance.

Thus we have the spectacle of a 12-year-old becoming distraught when her father orders seared tuna at a restaurant (this happened to a friend of mine), on account of over-fishing, or a 6-year-old (son of an acquaintance) panicking at the prospect of even a yogurt container going into the trash: “But I can use it as a toy!”

Gurdon reviews the burgeoning industry in Green-themed children’s books where “young readers are asked to sympathize with environmentalists who thwart businessmen, even when the good guys take destructive measures such as sinking boats or torching billboards. … yet there is something culturally impoverished about insisting that children join in the adult preoccupation with reducing, reusing and recycling. Can they not have a precious decade or so to soar in imaginative literature before we drag them back down to earth?” It’s under the earth Ms. Gurdon. A crucial difference.