Doomed Planet

Why Kids Swallow Climate Nonsense

Back in 2012, The Australian published an article warning that by 2020 there would be hardly any snow in Australia due to the “catastrophic effects” of climate change. According to Professor Katherine Pickering, from the Griffith School of Environment:

We’ve predicted by 2020 to lose something like 60 per cent of the snow cover of the Australian Alps.

Well, that sure didn’t age well (For more of Professor Pickering’s prophecies from 2012, see the video clip at the foot of this article). The increase in climate alarmism seems to mimic a growth in the number of younger generation protestors, with 17-year-old Greta Thunberg leading from the front. Following on from this, climate strikes are growing in number and popularity.

As an 18-year-old high school graduate, I empathise with the inclination of many in my generation to be alarmed about environmental concerns. What are some of the reasons why so many young people are drawn to this polarising political issue?

  1. A desire for something greater 

You don’t understand yourself really as an individual, you understand yourself as part of something bigger’. — Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

People are psychologically attracted to commit to something greater than themselves. This forms the foundation for communities, military service, charity work and religious values etc. However, with the rise of climate alarmism, it seems that my generation is drawn to nothing less than ‘saving the world’. As Hosseini observes, we all search for something greater to form our identity.

  1. A sense of legacy

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing’. — Benjamin Franklin  

There is probably nothing more important than the legacy and memory that one leaves behind. Young people today, in particular, are  being filled with the existential fear that such a prospect may not be possible. Thus does the sense and need to create a legacy intertwine with activist rhetoric and dogma.   

  1. A spirit of fear

The most powerful motivator of all, is fear’. Robert Evans Wilson

If you were told the world was ending in 70 years—give or take—would that not rightly invoke an emotional response? Well, what we’re seeing today is an emotionally driven wave of environmental hysteria. We fear the most what we cannot see.

  1. A search for virtue

The person who talks most of his own virtue is often the least virtuous’. — Jawaharial Nehru 

Across the ages, nothing seems more appealing than being validated by those around you. Greta Thunberg’s recent ‘rebuke’ to the United Nations—and especially the thunderous applause and validation which followed—taps into the deeper desire for youth around the world to similarly find such praise. As Nehru rightly observes, we’re all filled with an earnest longing to be seen as virtuous.  

  1. A desire for control

‘Control desire: refers to a subject of circumstance or relationship that an individual may want to exert control over’. — Wikipedia 

The need for control amid ever-present predictions of apocalyptic chaos seems to be the pervading ‘atmosphere’ for young people today. Without a God or higher power to submit to, human beings’ greatest desire is to be in control of their own lives and destinies. Such a desire to control one’s own world may well be fuelling the climate alarmism. 

  1. Self-esteem dogma

There is a real danger in believing it when people use the word ‘Genius’, and it’s even more dangerous when we let hubris tell ourselves we are’. Ryan Holiday, Ego is the Enemy

Both in public and private schools throughout Australia, students are being fed the self-esteem rhetoric that ‘you can do anything’ and ‘you can change the world’. Today’s youth has been raised from infancy with this advice, making them natural and eager fodder for climate alarmists and protest organisers.

  1. An anti-establishment psyche

Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue’. — Oscar Wilde 

Down through the ages, young people have filled the anti-establishment role. Statistics show that the majority of youth are of a progressive political inclination. This changes overtime, as age brings responsibility, and breeds conservative values, as the graph of the recent UK election demonstrates:

  1. The progressive virtue of victimhood

Claiming to be a victim gives people a perverse authority. Subjective experience becomes key… as victim status can buy special privileges’. — Claire Fox, author of I Find That Offensive

It seems that victimhood is the new virtue and ‘go to’ emotional heartstring of the alarmist movement. Take it from Greta Thunberg, who compains, “You have stolen my future”.

  1. A quasi-religious faith

‘Animism is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence.’ —  Oxford Dictionary  

The UN debates if “Mother Earth” deserves human rights. In Kyrgyzstan, while the parliament sacrificed seven sheep to dispel evil spirits, some 40 per cent of the world holds to some form of animistic belief. Closer to home, due to the integration of Aboriginal culture and Dreamtime spirituality, ‘land’ and ‘country’ have been imbued with spiritual worth. Such ethereal concepts fuel the rise in youth climate alarmism.

  1. A lack of hope beyond his world 

The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish’.  — Proverbs 10:28 

Of greatest concern is the rising tide of youthful depression and ennui. Climate change activists’ Gaia-centred green theology presents the imminent damnation of global catastrophe unless the world repents.


What made the difference for me was making myself better informed about the difficulty in accurately predicting longer-term climate and its impacts. Predictions that fall short, like here, here and here, reaffirm the inability of science to ascertain the future via computer models. The BoM, as we all know, often gets its short-term forecasts wrong, yet we are urged to believe its predictions for 100 years hence are holy writ and must never be challenged.

Making the effort to understand Australia’s past bushfires, temperatures and our recent cooling period made my greater fear not of climate change but of a further descent into the emotionally driven echo chamber of hysteria and irrationality. Of the two, I know which is the more dangerous.

Luke Powell is currently studying English Literature and Modern History at Sydney University

23 thoughts on “Why Kids Swallow Climate Nonsense

  • Doubting Thomas says:


  • DG says:

    Excellent summary.

  • ianl says:

    Rational, lucid and literate.

    The UK election age spread maps are entertaining.

  • en passant says:

    Surely we must believe a guru academic even when she is totally wrong? I mean, all that time studying the entrails of a computer program and throwing darts blindfold must produce the correct answer as its hard to see what could go wrong with a plan like that?
    The sooner Oz gets over its psychotic fear and burns the bush in winter and spring and builds a massive coal-fired power station the better of both we and the planet will be.
    I am doing my best to increase the CO2 concentration to the minimum acceptable level of 2,000ppm

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    Luke: You ask:
    “As an 18-year-old high school graduate, I empathise with the inclination of many in my generation to be alarmed about environmental concerns. What are some of the reasons why so many young people are drawn to this polarising political issue?”
    And you go on to provide some answers:
    1. A desire for something greater
    2. A sense of legacy
    3. A spirit of fear
    4. A search for virtue
    5. A desire for control
    6. Self-esteem dogma
    7. An anti-establishment psyche
    8. The progressive virtue of victimhood
    9. A quasi-religious faith
    10. A lack of hope beyond his world
    All of the above are reasons also for considering the likes of Greta Thunberg as being deluded; that is having false beliefs, as in about anthropogenic climate change. According to you, such as she have persuaded themselves thanks to one or more of the items in your list above. That is to say, they are self-deluded.
    And I think that if you search the literature of psychology, you will find that self-persuasion is pretty powerful: to put it in a nutshell, we believe what we want to believe. (That of course, includes me and all the other commenters on this topic so far.)
    So ask yourself, why do YOU, Luke Powell* want to believe what you have written here?
    Don’t tell me; tell yourself.
    It was not for nothing that the Temple of the Delphic Oracle bore the inscription: ‘Know Thyself’.
    But can I in conclusion add an 11th item to your list:
    11. There is a strong chance that the scientific mainstream is right.
    Not the best of news, I know. I personally would prefer otherwise. And there are many paid-up members of the Ostrich School of Climatology (quite a few of them round this site) who will tell you: “Cheer up. That can’t be right.”
    Some choose to explain things. Others, to explain things away.
    *I assume that to be your real name; can get tricky round here.

  • Stephen Due says:

    Ian McD. The scientific mainstream does not exist on this issue. Also you have forgotten a basic fact about science, namely that the mainstream (when it has existed) has nearly always been wrong. For example it was wrong about infectious diseases before the proof of the germ theory by one scientist. Thus one scientist who is right is better than thousands who are wrong. A suggestion: on any scientific issue (including this one) it is necessary to address the facts. If experts are divided (as in this case) you need to evaluate the arguments. Should you find yourself temperamentally inclined to be on one side, you need to equip yourself for debate. The only way to do this is to master the arguments of the opposition. There are many websites put up by scientists who oppose the theory of human-induced catastrophic global warming. At the same time, consider the logical structure of the arguments for government action on climate. They are extremely tenuous at best, because you have a long chain with quite a few links in it, all of which are weak. Any one link, if it fails, destroys the argument for action. It is very unfortunate, in my view, that bad logic and bad science are driving political programs the motives for which are ably set out by Luke in his article. Well done Luke!

  • Stephen Due says:

    Love the picture, by the way. Spoiled brat syndrome. Should have been attended to by the parents of the person holding the placard long ago, but they probably encouraged it. Meanwhile it’s time for students to get back to school to equip themselves to look after their own future.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    Stephen Due:
    “The scientific mainstream does not exist on this issue. ”
    198 scientific organisations worldwide, including the CSIRO, the AAAS and the Royal Society have endorsed AGW. Apparently, you are a stranger to that fact.
    Certain identities around here explain that away by saying that all those organisations have been subverted by ‘activists’. ‘Activists’ for Chrissake..!
    In other words, climate denialism finds itself invoking the greatest and most ludicrous conspiracy theory of all time. In order to explain that embarrassing fact away
    But wait. There’s more…!
    “Also you have forgotten a basic fact about science, namely that the mainstream (when it has existed) has nearly always been wrong. For example it was wrong about infectious diseases before the proof of the germ theory by one scientist.”
    I will rephrase that incredible statement for you:
    “Also you have forgotten a basic fact about science, namely that the textbooks (when they have existed) have nearly always been wrong. For example they was wrong about infectious diseases before the proof of the germ theory by one scientist.”
    You might have added: “For example they was wrong about planetary motion before the theory of gravitation announced by one scientist.”
    Or “They was wrong about biology until the theory of evolution announced by one scientist.”
    (A propos of all that, and for the sake of the consistency of your own position, might I suggest you visit every library you can and urge the librarian to immediately consign all books on science: physics, chemistry, biology, geology; the lot to the nearest dumpster? Or better still, bonfire..?)
    But as you do so, remember what Newton famously said: “”If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” In that he echoed the motto of the Schoolmen: “We are all dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants.”
    And after Pasteur announced his germ theory and his empirical evidence for it, mainstream science rapidly adopted it. That is how science works.
    I suggest you get hold of a copy of Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Might improve your mind. (Link for that next.)

  • padraic says:

    I agree with you Stephen about science. As someone with a science background I regard science as analysing what presently exists and taking past experiments and factual data into consideration when coming to a conclusion that is reproducible in present time. The so called climate science is based on modelling of what may happen in the future. That’s not science – that is an unproven postulation, and this has resulted in real science being ignored by those who have only assertions/opinions based on unverifiable future predictions. Totally pathetic

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    padraic: “The so called climate science is based on modelling of what may happen in the future.”
    So what you are saying is that the modelling is no better than a throw of the dice, or the examination of the entrails of a freshly slaughtered chook. Or something.
    I suggest you have a look at the best work I know on that subject, written by the physicist Spencer R. Weart and entitled The Discovery of Global Warming.(2003). Weart at the time of writing that book was Director of the Centre for the History of Physics, of the American Institute of Physics.
    The much quoted and abused (by denialists) computer models are only part of the story.
    “… unproven postulation, …. only assertions/opinions… unverifiable future predictions. Totally pathetic.”
    Those last two words may be truer than you think, but not about climatology. As pathetic as Morrison’s lump of parliamentary coal now appears, perhaps?

  • MichaelinBrisbane says:

    Is that Prof Pickering in the photo at the head of your article, or her sister?

  • lloveday says:

    “…we’re all filled with an earnest longing to be seen as virtuous”.

    Not so – “all” is so often used wrongly when “most”, “almost all”…. may be true but “all” certainly is not, as in this case.

    Far from an “earnest longing”, some have no such longing, and history is replete with extreme examples – while Khomeini and bin Laden may claim the evil they perpetrated as being virtuous in accordance with their religion, the same cannot be said of so many others who wished to be obeyed and feared and in no way looked to be regarded as virtuous, from Elizabeth Bathory to Pol Pot.

    At a far remove, I care not an iota about how people see me and never have, even at school; I am what I am – virtuous in the eyes my mother, somewhat virtuous in my wife’s, tending towards evil in my daughter’s and so on, but in no instance do I pander to, try to alter or worry about the opinions they form. Maybe except when in Court!

  • T B LYNCH says:

    It is amazing how much garbage MacDougall can produce without going anywhere near geology, nor biochemistry, nor Beers Law of electromagnetic absorption, nor the physics of convection, let alone the circulation of the oceans.
    Making a real scientific breakthrough is a few hours of intense exhilaration along with enormous fear that things are not going to work, or that someone will find a fundamental error in ones thinking.
    Newton himself was always afraid that someone might prove that gravity did not decay as the exact square of the distance. That is what happened to Dirac when Feynman came along.

  • Guido Negraszus says:

    I can understand why children believe this nonsense. What I can’t understand is why grown-ups believe it. China adds two Australias every year to their already high CO2 emissions until at least 2030. Yet, grown-ups, including our house troller, somehow are convinced that reducing OUR tiny CO2 will stop bush fires. Sadly, we can no longer trust scientists. Science is ultimately the search for truth. Science is never settled. The only thing we need to do is put all effort into research and more research. Stop this renewable madness (unreliable and expensive) and demonising of coal until we have all the facts.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    “Guido Negraszus here, Captain. I think our good ship Titanic might be sinking!”
    “Guido…!!! Stop this unreliable and expensive madness of demonising the incoming ocean until we have all the facts!”
    “But how will we ever know that we have all the facts, Captain?”
    “When I say so, Guido. And not a moment before..!”

  • Biggles says:

    Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts. – Richard Feynman

  • padraic says:

    What we are seeing is a resurrection of the battle between science and religion but religion in a new irrational secular guise. I thought this battle was over by the 1950s when an American cleric observed in words to the effect that you could not split the atom using theology and you could not prove there was a god using science. It seemed like a truce and we could all move on. Many of the traditional religions focus on the fear of death and how to come to terms with it. Some say if you lead a good life you will go to a heaven lacking in details in some cases but specific in another where multiple marriages abound, and if you are bad you will go to hell whatever that is. An associated aspect in Middle Eastern religions is rising from the dead and ascending into heaven, sometimes in a chariot. In another religion you start at the bottom of the social ladder and when you die and have lived a good life you will be reborn into the next socio-economic rung above the one you died in until you reach the top rung. The purpose of these approaches is to keep society hopefully stable and peaceful. In all these traditional religions there arise aberrant prophets who predict if society is bad all sorts of terrible apocalyptic things will befall that society and you will all die a horrible death, like Sodom and Gomorrah, the predictions of the Children of Fatima etc. These apocalyptic scenarios arise from time to time with the world ending unless we repent. In the past it was repentance for our sins as defined mainly by the 10 commandments, but as these are now old hat and traditional religions are diminished, the new secular Gaia based religion has taken over and we all have to repent according to the Scandinavian prophetess for our sins of using carbon based products and the end of the world is nigh in a few years time unless we change. Theology with its emphasis on personal values is a no-no with this new religion so they substitute and market a faux “science” of carbon products to suit the secular nature of this new religion. It’s across all ages – the other day I was talking to a woman in her 80s and she was stressed because she believed her grand-daughter will have a standard of life worse than anything before – let’s see? two world wars, the great depression + at an earlier time- bubonic plague, starvation, hanging, drawing and quartering, guillotine etc. I was saddened more than anything to think that people believe this Gaia stuff.

  • Guido Negraszus says:

    As I said Ian: I can understand why children believe this nonsense …! You proved my point.

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    Can you quote the source documents on which your simplification rant is based?

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    Thanks Luke Powell. Well done.
    A propos your points 1, 9 & 10:
    We are dealing with a phenomenon somewhere between a pseudoscience and a cult: let’s call it a pseudoscientific cult/religion.
    Astrology is another pseudoscience: “No matter what patterns the stars and planets might be exhibiting on any given day, those movements are interpreted to be influencing what is happening in our lives. There is no course of events that could transpire that would lead astrologists to believe that their horoscope predictions were incorrect.
    Similarly, it seems like any and all atmospheric occurrences are attributed to “climate change” — in part because its definition has become so broad. There is no combination of weather patterns that would cause “climate change” devotees to doubt their gospel. By contrast, even theories that are deeply ingrained in the fabric of our society, such as gravitation or evolution, are still capable of falsification. It is for this reason that they are regarded as theories and not axioms. Climate change, on the other hand, has no counterexamples since every weather pattern is seen as a by-product, therefore making it essentially pseudoscience.” (M Bharadwaj 12 October 2017)
    I would add an eleventh point: Follow the money. How else to explain why investment/central banker – and now UN CC Special Envoy – Mark Carney would pop up spouting “predictions” and “precautionary” warnings? He and his ticket-clipping colleagues in the financial sector/UN desperately want a price on carbon (dioxide) so they can trade this modern form of “indulgences”.
    “Because CC projections are uncertain”, they opine, “therefore we must act NOW.” Imagine a price on a trace gas that – like God – is present everywhere and visible nowhere. Sure beats gold, frankincense and myrrh.

  • padraic says:

    Yes, Luke Powell, thanks for a very accurate analysis of the new reality.

  • lhackett01 says:

    I too worry about climate hysteria. Luke nicely presents some of the causes. Evidence leads the way about climate change. Unfortunately, many alarmist scientists, organizations, and people use trends in climate parameters taken over very short periods, usually since the year 1900. Comparing these data with that from much longer timescales raises serious questions. Have a look at my paper on the subject, “Global Warming Misunderstood”, at My paper presents real evidence that indicates man has little to do with climate change. Until and unless climate alarmists can refute such evidence then the alarmist view is hypothesis only.

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