The exploitation of children for political ends is perhaps the worst recent example of how ‘noble cause corruption’ can work.
Every right-thinking person abhors the very idea of state-generated propaganda being employed to manipulate and fashion immature minds, so as to produce a cadre of pliant political clones.
Such malign techniques are firmly associated in our minds with the evil dictatorships of the 20th century, such as the Leninist Komsomol and Hitler Youth. We were nauseated when the details of those depraved processes became known – and swore we would never let them happen again.
But modern political campaigners have revived an older code : the end can justify the means. The cause is so sacred and so urgent that even child abuse can be tolerated. We must be prepared to censor our collective conscience and stifle our scruples for the ultimate good of the planet! . .
Even if the prescription they promote is not based on science, would have high social and financial costs, and do little environmental good at best.
In denouncing the claim that agriculture accounts for 48.1% of New Zealand’s emissions, Robin Grieve sees this curriculum as “lying to children”. There is no mention of the now-accepted science that reducing methane emissions will make no difference to peak global temperatures.
While the material also avoids mention of scientific unknowns, it puts forward countless spurious predictions for the future as if they were known facts.
I personally began a list of these factoids for the purpose of comparing them with the official projections set out in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It was all a futile exercise. Almost every future ‘scientific fact’ in this material is either flat-out wrong or highly tendentious.
The entire document is couched in the language of climate campaigners rather than that of scientists. It is a trashy and hopelessly unbalanced catechism of all the fashionable pseudoscience. It is pure propaganda, in the very best Goebbels tradition. . .
The authors of the teaching resource acknowledge it might endanger children’s mental health.
The Education Ministry has accordingly issued an accompanying 15-page “wellbeing guide” for teachers of the new material. This truly brutal document cold-bloodedly predicts that:
“Children may respond to the climate change scientific material in a number of ways. They may experience a whole host of difficult emotions, including fear, helplessness, frustration, anger, guilt, grief, and confusion. When discussing the material, teachers may encounter students who cope through avoidance, denial, diversionary tactics, wishful thinking and a range of other coping mechanisms. Children may need help with understanding, communicating, and coping with, the difficult feelings that arise in relation to the material…”
There would be far, far less risk of mental ill-health if the resource was designed to help teach not preach, if it was based on science not emotion and if it encouraged children to look for practical solutions through technology and innovation rather than inciting them to activism.