Nickelodeon is currently, and has been for some time now, advertising their youth environmental indoctrination program, the Big Green Help using the child stars of their TV shows. Of course, this is in no way surprising to me, since Nickelodeon is one step away from being a children, tween and teen’s version of MSNBC: wrong all the time, but completely unfaltering in how wrong it can be. Nickelodeon wants to teach the children of the world that Global Warming is the greatest danger the world has ever faced. Ever ever.
In the Big Green Help, kids play a video game featuring NickToons characters, and fight the oh-so-evil CO2 polluting monsters. I won’t point out the ethical issues of using the pressure provided by successful peers and idols to goad children into making “climate pledges.” I won’t even point out that CO2 isn’t pollution. Not only that, I won’t point out the irony of having kids pledge to decrease water usage, power usage and so forth by playing a non-essential, power consuming video game on a computer.
Human induced climate change is to today’s generation of youngsters what the peak of the cold war was to my parent’s generation. Children today stay up at night, fretting over what might become of the world if the ice caps melt, or if Tuvala sinks underwater. Where will we be if the poor polar bears, completely unable to defend themselves from anything have no ice to which they can return?
I often lament the fact that, as a child, I never had anything that scared me so thoroughly I woke up in the middle of the night, sweating profusely. Sure, there was acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer, cancer caused by high voltage power lines, the fact that Gorbachev had the mark of the devil. But none of these ever really stuck. Nothing ever caused panic attacks for me or the general population outside of the anxiety ridden. But that’s a sad tale for another day.
Global Warming is a crisis! Or, as Al Gore would say, “Global. Warming. Is. The. Greatest. Threat. The. Human. Race. Has. Ever… … … … Known.” To those of us who are more rational, there is slightly more disturbing threat presented by Global Warming. Or, more specifically, presented by the threat of the threat of Global Warming. Unlike previous crises, Global Warming brings about an angst that is existential in nature. And by existential, I do not mean like that of John McCain, discussing in the first debate the fact that Iran EXISTS and is dangerous. I mean existential angst in the vein of Sartre and Kierkegaard, of the variety in which human beings, by nature of being free, feel great dread over the fact that they are prone to mistakes, and such mistakes might and will have disastrous effects.
Previous crises were about fear, about the fact that the average person could do little or nothing to stop the impending doom. But angst is a different beast. Today’s youth are being told that Global Warming is not a problem that is confined to being dealt with by our leaders, but instead will be solved by everyday actions. Kids are even being asked to pressure their parents to live more environmentally responsible lives, even if it is by government fiat. To them, it is not a problem if the government decides to tell us what light bulbs we must use, or that we cannot heat our houses above a certain temperature, or that we must recycle or drive a hybrid. There is a long list of small liberties that today’s children are being led to believe that it is acceptable to surrender in order to preserve the safety of the world.
But as Benjamin Franklin said , “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”