There is a great deal to be concerned about in the exhibitions of infants and young children being used to carry climate placards last Friday, and of older children presumably choosing to carry them aided and abetted by teachers, parent, and others. It is not difficult to find photographs in the news media to illustrate adults posing with infants, and adults urging on older children to perform for the mass media, some carrying placards provided by political groups such as the ‘Socialist Workers’.
Some of the participants will have done it for a bit of a laugh – after all, it is different and it is attention-getting. Some are too young to know what is being done to them. But how can they best be helped if their teachers, in particular, are happy to see them used as placard carriers in school time? Some participants are adults who have been through the education system in recent decades, and these are perhaps the biggest immediate concern since they may be the hardest to help. The youngsters may still be impressionable enough to be reached (somehow) in due course by calmer, more rational, more informed, and more scientific perspectives on climate variation and what we know about it. But who will help the adults with minds made up, and how will they do it?
In our booklet, Climate Control , Andrew Montford and I called, in 2014, for an official inquiry into the extent of climate alarm scaremongering in UK schools. We suspected this scaremongering was widespread since we had evidence of it in many areas of the curriculum. The events of last Friday suggest we were right to be suspicious, and that the need is still there for an inquiry to help establish just how bad it is.
Astro-Turfing at Work?
There is another, less obvious reason for concern, and that is the existence of organisations intent on manipulation of children for political ends. As ever with ideologically-driven agitation, ‘the issue is not the issue’. Climate alarm is merely a hot topic that serves sundry purposes. The manipulators need not care two hoots about the details of the flimsy arguments for alarm, or critiques of them, when they can just ride on the waves of political and financial support these arguments have provided, and step off them on to other waves in due course. But they leave behind people damaged because they have come to believe in one or more of the scare stories being pushed upon them.
This may be one such organisation in the States. It was not at all clear to me who they are from their website called ‘Schools for Climate Action’ but they, or he or she, claim:
‘We are a non-partisan, grassroots, youth-adult campaign with a mission to empower schools to speak up for climate action in order to protect current and future generations.‘
Here is another possible one, in Australia, called ‘School Strike 4 Climate Australia’
‘We are school students from cities and towns across Australia. Most of us have never met before but are united by our concern about our planet. We are striking from school to tell our politicians to take our futures seriously and treat climate change for what it is – a crisis.’
Jo Nova noted in 2015, Greens using school children in Australia by getting them to write contrived letters to politicians:
‘ Gary Johns (former Labor Minister in the Keating Government) writes in The Australian that children are being dished up green speakers at school, asked to write letters about “their thoughts” to politicians, and taking letters home to parents seeking their permission to join the campaign which is run by a volunteer for The Greens. The children were offered sample activist letters to copy.’
Dennis Ambler, in a recent comment at the Climate Scepticism blog has drawn attention to some more useful links in this area: ‘Oz Journalist Tony Thomas has spent a lot of time investigating the groups behind these propaganda strategies which are and have been operating in Australia again with Teacher support:’
There are also a good few to be found amongst my own listings of websites aimed at children or teachers about climate.
The Sad Story of Swedish Schoolgirl Greta Thunberg
On WUWT earlier this year:
That is the title of a post which provides a link to a video of Greta giving a TED talk. It is quite moving to see such a young person making her statements like that, ill-informed though they are. But as well as being a victim of climate scaremongering, she may also be a victim of PR-driven manipulation.
Andrew Montford has provided some background on this here, making use of research published in the Swiss Swiss magazine Weltwoche . Here are some extracts from Andrew’s article (as reported here):
‘Thunberg’s profile has only grown since. Her appearance at the UN climate conference in Poland propelled her to international fame. Most recently she was in Davos. Her message to the billionaires at the World Economic Summit was stark: ‘I want you to panic’ about climate change.’
‘However, her sudden appearance in the limelight has led to some pointed questions: is Greta’s celebrity status less to do with chance and more to do with a carefully orchestrated public relations campaign?
‘It revealed that Thunberg’s school strike had coincided neatly with the launch of a book about climate change written by her mother, Malena Ernman. Is this a coincidence? It looks less like one when you learn from the same article that the first publicity of Thunberg’s protest came via the social media of the book’s PR man, Ingmar Rentzhog, on the day of its launch.’
‘Further worrying details have also emerged. As well as working for Greta’s mother, Rentzhog had also recently launched a business called ‘We Don’t Have Time’, a sort of climate-focused PR agency. In October 2018, he invited Greta to join the company’s Youth Advisory Board and in the weeks that followed he used her image intensively ahead of the company’s share issue. This seems to have been very successful, bringing in something short of a million pounds. But whatever the figure, Greta has proved to be an extraordinarily lucrative asset for Mr. Rentzhog, and the environmental press has been extraordinarily helpful too.’
Meanwhile, a UK schoolgirl ‘striker’ speaks out in The Guardian