Doomed Planet

Teaching doomsday, learning fear

The eco-apocalyptic cult in schools

Tragically, it should come as no surprise that “Australian kids are living in a climate of fear” because “climate change had been presented as a doomsday scenario” in environmental studies at school, where they are taught that it “will bring death, injury and destruction” to them and future generations (Daily Telegraph 9/7/2011).

As I pointed out in a previous article on Quadrant Online , eco-apocalypticism is a cultish religious phenomenon with the same characteristics as any of the innumerable end-of-the-world cults that have appeared throughout history, with their prophecies of Armageddon. The principal difference, of course, is that the contemporary eco-apocalyptic cult has the full backing of the state, and particularly the education system, which is being used as a gigantic propaganda machine to literally scare children into adhering to the belief-system of the cult.

Psychologists and responsible scientists warn that the resource material provided by the Federal Government to promote the cult amongst primary school teachers and students causes “unnecessary anxiety and endangers children’s mental health”, and that "to put all of this before our children … is one of the most appalling things we can do to children." They say that far too much time is being spent in school classrooms “presenting scary scenarios” of eco-apocalypticism to students.

Nevertheless, despite this outrageous psychological assault on young children, federal Schools Minister Peter Garrett has confirmed that the Government will not stop teaching climate science in the classroom, even though there are moves in Britain for the subject to be withdrawn because of its inaccurate, non-scientific content and alarmist intentions and affects.

Garrett, of course, is well-credentialed to be a prophet of doom, as his cringe-worthy posturing and incoherent singing with his rock band demonstrated for many years before he moved to his present gig in politics – “how do we sleep when our beds are burning?”, indeed.

(In fact, as many home-owners now worry: ‘How can we sleep when our batts are burning?’ – thanks Chrissy.)

Historically, it has been common for the propaganda apparatus of the state to be used to promote apocalyptic fears and expectations within a community. This has been demonstrated by many historians over the past four decades as the turn of the millennium approached. These include, Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium (1970); Frederic J Baumgartner, Longing for the End: A History of Millennialism in Western Civilization (1999); Eugen Weber, Apocalypses: Prophecies, Cults, and Millennial Beliefs Through the Ages (1999); David S Katz and Richard H Popkin, Messianic Revolution (1998); Richard Abanes, End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon (1998); Thomas Robbins and Susan J Palmer (eds.), Millennium, Messiahs, and Mayhem: Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements (1997) ; and Jonathon Kirsch, A History of the End of the World (2006). 

Such books illustrate the mountain of research that has gone into the study of the major cultural and political role played by apocalypticism and its associated cults throughout history. They show how it has been a perennial feature of Western history and how it has been exploited by messianic cults and political demagogues to seize and hold onto power by systematically terrifying their societies with the prospect that the world is about to end and that they must demonstrate their loyalty to the regime through blind, unquestioning obedience and large-scale sacrifice if they want to survive.

Given the evidence of over 2000 years of history and the increasingly doubtful science being used, there is no rational or objective reason to assume that this time the prophets of doom are correct and that this time the world really will end if people fail to support the present political regime and the cult of eco-apocalypticism that supports it.

Nevertheless, the damage done by this apocalyptic inculcation to the psychological health of a generation cannot be undone and will be lasting and severe with many children. This will have a cultural and political impact well into the future, and will stand as one of the more grotesque legacies of the cult of eco-apocalypticism and the political minions that serve as its prophets of doom.

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