Will climate extremism depress human civilization?

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Bright full moon over darkened New York City skyline during massive East Coast blackout affecting 80,000 square miles.


By Duggan Flanakin

Blackout concept. Lighting candle near laptop with dark empty screen

Journalist Evelyn Pelczar writes that “fear has the power to sway, distort, and rupture the conventions of the human psyche.”

But just as importantly, as Psychology Today contends, “If people didn’t feel fear, they wouldn’t be able to protect themselves from legitimate threats.”

Franklin Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address, told a nation shaken by the Great Depression that, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
But fear is a driving force in today’s environmental journalism. The use of fear as a motivator is much older than the musings of the late Stephen Schneider, who once urged his green colleagues to “offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have” to gin up fear and anger over climate change.

It was just two years ago that Gaia coiner James Lovelock observed, “I don’t know if it is too late for humanity to avert a climate catastrophe, but I am sure there is no chance if we continue to treat global heating and the destruction of nature as separate problems.”

By contrast, Stephen Hawking thought that humanity might not survive artificial intelligence, an alien invasion, or human aggression – global warming did not make the cut. Schneider, Hawking, and Lovelock all died without seeing the end of civilization, but Al Gore and John Kerry are still alive and still scaring the Bejeezus out of people with their every pronouncement.

Just last year, Gore told ABC News that “if we don’t stop using our atmosphere as an open sewer and if we don’t stop these heat trapping emissions, things are gonna get a lot worse. More people will be killed and the survival of our civilization is at stake.”

Kerry is so far down the rabbit hole he is advocating for eliminating farms and farm animals. In his warped view, “We’re facing record malnutrition at a time when agriculture … is suffering from the impacts of the climate crisis.”

Meanwhile, Our World in Data reports that the amount of food we grow has increased rapidly as a result of the expanded use of land for agriculture and a rapid rise in crop yields. But Kerry seems to think we should reduce agricultural production and let people starve to save the planet.

Is it any wonder, then, that some less famous people have also gone off the deep end? They are surely influenced by the hordes of jet-setters at the World Bank, European Union, United Nations, and other fat-cat institutions that decry “climate change” as a catastrophe or a crisis. Meanwhile, have you heard Greta Thunberg, Antifa, Extinction Rebellion, and other such groups condemn Gore, Kerry, and their ilk for their massive use of jet fuel and electricity? Have they blocked entrances to the IPCC meetings or other jet-fuel-guzzler events?

Greta did chide Kerry for daring to suggest that technologies yet to be invented will help combat climate change such that people can continue living normal lives. Thunberg, always the wit, responded, “Great news! I spoke to Harry Potter and he said he will team up with Gandalf, Sherlock Holmes, and The Avengers and get started right away!”

But many of today’s climate crazies have no sense of humor at all – or any sense of history or decency. Nobody laughed at Ultima Generazione dumping charcoal rather than coins into Rome’s historic Trevi Fountain.

Nobody quit using gasoline after two members of the group Declare Emergency threw red and black paint on the case of the Edgar Degas sculpture “Little Danger Aged Fourteen.”

Nobody switched to a Tesla because activists from the group Just Stop Oil threw tomato soup on Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” at the National Gallery in London – or when Last Generation Austria vandals threw an oily black liquid onto Gustav Klimt’s painting “Tod und Leben” at the Leopold Museum in Vienna, Austria, and then glued their hands to the frame.

Other copycat haters of humanity glued themselves to “The Clothed Maja” and “The Naked Maja” – two famed Goya paintings – at the Prado Museum in Madrid, then painted a “+ 1.5 C” on the wall between the two paintings. Still, others failed in their attempt in Oslo, Norway, to glue themselves to Edvard Munch’s 1893 masterpiece “The Scream.”

Then there are the highway blockers. Over 1,500 members of Extinction Rebellion were arrested (and most quickly released) after blocking a major highway in The Hague in May. Closer to home, members of Declare Emergency blocked Interstate 395, a major commuter route for federal workers and the political class, last November, promising to “keep doing it” until President Biden declares a climate emergency.

Why are young people today so willing to commit such acts in the name of climate? “I’m scared of my future. Why are you blocking OUR BILL?” said one climate activist to Sen. Joe Manchin.

“Eco-anxiety” – the chronic fear of environmental doom – is rampant on both sides of the Atlantic (and in many areas worldwide). Scientists at Imperial College London say eco-anxiety “risks exacerbating health and social inequalities between those more or less vulnerable to these psychological impacts.”

Authors Mala Rao and Richard Powell pointed to a 2020 survey of child psychiatrists in England showing that 57 percent are seeing children and young people distressed about the climate crisis and the state of the environment. Citing a recent international survey, they further note that the psychological burdens of climate fear are “profoundly affecting huge numbers of these young people around the world.”

Rao and Powell called on global leaders to “recognise the challenges ahead, the need to act now, and the commitment necessary to create a path to a happier and healthier future, leaving no one behind.” But responding to irrational demands by capitulating will never satisfy the paranoid, and in the real world, the “climate crisis” is way overblown.

A far better solution would be to stop scaring children by inferring that they are all going to be burned alive by global heating. Yet that is just not happening. Time reports that a third of all U.S. students across 20 states are learning from Next Generation Science Standards that have climate change education guidelines – and boasts of “a broad generational movement of young activists who want to address climate change.”

Among those activists are three children – one the daughter of Rep. Ihlan Omar – who organized a global climate protest on March 15 under the heading U.S. Youth Climate Strike. Young people from nearly 100 countries – from China to Uganda and Chile – gathered in solidarity to demand an end to fossil fuels. Almost none of them had likely ever been taught any of the manifold benefits of fossil fuels – and the products derived from their extraction and processing.
Simply put, the battle for the hearts and minds of tomorrow’s generation – is not even being fought by those who recognize the danger climate violence poses to Western civilization and the many benefits the West has brought to the entire world.

Schools pump climate fear into young hearts and minds with little opposition. No one successfully demands that the whole story be taught – and no one will as long as a blinkered minority controls what children learn in school, on television, and through social media. Yet, left unchecked, an army of children could provide a useful smokescreen for malevolent adult destroyers.

But we are trying – and a growing number of people, even many indoctrinated for their entire lives, are beginning to realize that something is just not right with the kids. And it is not the “climate crisis,” but those who incite children to riot and rebel to serve their own ends.


  • Duggan FlanakinDuggan Flanakin
  • Duggan Flanakin is a Senior Policy Analyst with the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.
  • A former Senior Fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Mr. Flanakin authored definitive works on the creation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and on environmental education in Texas.
  • A brief history of his multifaceted career appears in his book, “Infinite Galaxies: Poems from the Dugout.”