It’s not true that the University of Tasmania (UTAS) has been treating Tasmanian primary-school kids like lab-rats. Lab work is tightly regulated and I’m sure vice-chancellor Rufus Black would crack down hard on any staffers vivisecting local kids.
The only truth in the lab-rat claim is that UTAS has been feeding the Apple Isle’s primary schoolers with apocalyptic scaremongering about global warming, and then checking the kids’ trauma level. If it’s off the scale, UTAS gives kids helpful hints on how to cope, and directs their panic-stricken families to the loopy counsellors at Psychology for a Safe Climate. This is all documented in UTAS’s Curious Climate Schools exercise. It’s a follow-on to a similar experiment on Tasmanian adults called Curious Climate. That one was run in conjunction with Their ABC.
The kids’ social experiment has been run by a seven-woman UTAS collective with about 30 primary and mid-level schools, 1000 kids and 57 UTAS “experts” involved. It’s co-funded by the Tasmanian government no less, through its Climate Change Office. (Hobart’s CO2 emissions are about 20,000 tonnes a year versus China’s 11,000,000,000 tonnes and rising).
Kids ask climate questions and UTAS’ self-styled climate “experts” provide answers. If little Daphne wonders about the “Significance of emotion when encountering climate change”, she can ask UTAS emotion specialist Charlotte Jones from the School of Geography, who writes.
Why I do what I do
Learning more about how we feel about climate change has the potential to lead to social transformation – and that inspires me.
Something interesting about me
I have a secret choc-chip cookie recipe (shhh!)
She’s a social scientist, PhD candidate and a Westpac Future Leaders scholarship holder.
UTAS quotes her: “Climate change is an environmental, economic and social crisis and young Australians are at the precipice of that.” From her Westpac profile: “I seek to understand how knowledge, emotion and action are co-produced in the context of growing awareness in the 21st century of the extent of human transformation of the Earth.” A volunteer with social justice organisations in what she calls Lutrutiwa (I think that’s “Tasmania”), she’s keen to remedy “intersectional inequalities” via “the dialectic between nature and society”.
So she gets a question from a Kentish primary school,
When it comes to future generations, how will they feel about what we have done?
…The court judgement Sharma vs Minister for the Environment said, “The devastation caused by climate change will largely be inflicted by the inaction of this generation of adults in what might fairly be described as the greatest intergenerational injustice ever inflicted by one generation of humans upon the next … Many young people talk about feeling betrayed and angry and frustrated by actions or inactions of older generations that mean we are now facing significant global challenges. We are now facing significant global climate challenges. Look at our Curious Climate page on feelings if you want to think a bit more about this.
In another answer to tots, she likens climate activism to the Suffragettes and the US Civil Rights Movement, and congratulates schoolkids for skiving off on School Strikes 4 Climate. She also sees community cooperation during COVID as a model for fast action. (As a Victorian, I actually recall it as Dan Andrews’ VicPol coercion — just ask Zoe Buhler in Ballarat, arrested and handcuffed at home in her pyjamas over a social media post advising of an upcoming protest against lockdowns.
Before I get back to the QandA’s, I’d better fill in about Curious Climate Schools’ mental health concerns. Here’s some of the guidance there:
A note for educators: It is important not to tell them [kids] there is no reason to be upset, or to rush to try to fix negative emotions. They are legitimate responses. Children need a safe emotional place to express their vulnerability. If your school has access to a counsellor or social worker, it would be helpful to liaise with them to offer students a person to talk to if they feel overwhelmed.
Validate students’ feelings: Support them. This could be by doing an activity as a class, going for a walk together, or having some time to journal or draw in response to listening to the climate change experts.
It is important to remember that emotions about climate change may come up for your students some time after you watch these answers as a class.
Climate change is a challenging topic for all of us. Hearing these questions and answers will likely bring into focus your own complex feelings about climate change. If you need immediate support, you can contact lifeline at https://www.lifeline.org.au/ or 13 11 14.
The UTAS advice for kids:
As you learn more about climate change and listen to answers by climate experts, you will probably experience lots of different kinds of feelings, some of which can be difficult. This is OK and very normal. These feelings can be helpful… Sometimes our feelings can be uncomfortable, and they can become overwhelming. At these times, we need to find ways to bring our feelings back to a healthy balance…
Asking for help: If you are feeling really overwhelmed, find an adult you trust to talk to. This could be a parent or guardian, a teacher, social worker, a relative or your doctor. If you need someone to talk to straight away you can go to Kids Helpline https://kidshelpline.com.au/ or call 1800 55 1800.
Taking care of yourself: As you learn more, and listen to experts on climate change, we encourage you to find space to recognise and explore your feelings. This could be through things like journaling, drawing, singing, writing, climbing a tree, going for a walk or talking through your feelings with trusted adults or peers.
Acknowledge and respect whatever feelings you might have about climate change – does climate change make you angry, scared, worried? Whatever you feel, that’s OK! You can talk to your friends and family and teachers about how you feel, and hear how they feel too. If climate change does get you feeling down, remember to look around and see the many GOOD things happening to tackle climate change 🙂
Collective action: Find your tribe and use your voices! Collective events such as the school strikes for climate raise awareness – and they also give climate scientists all around the world hope that the next generation will make changes and vote for the climate policies we urgently need!
Awareness projects in schools – could you and your schoolmates become Climate Warriors together? Could you encourage your school to install solar panels, introduce meat-free Monday, ask for more vego options in the canteen, or go single-use plastic free?
Systemic action: Work with your teachers to develop a climate action plan in your school – a guide for how to take climate action from an entire school level to individual classroom and student levels. Contact State and Federal politicians to ask them to make more ambitious changes to climate policy for Tasmania and Australia. [Whether politicians are impressed by the views of 9-year-olds is another matter].
Contact product brands you like, and companies or businesses you use services from, to ask what their carbon emissions are and how they plan to make their products carbon neutral.
It’s important to remember too that people don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be serious about tackling climate change (that would be soooo exhausting and people might give up then!). The big thing to remember is to just do what you can… Importantly, it really doesn’t help to make people feel guilt or shame for doing what you might think is not enough… Remind yourself and other people to feel GOOD about whatever changes and actions you are taking – GO YOU! 🙂
The page links to “goodgriefnetwork.org” about how to Process Heavy Emotions like “fear, anger and eco-grief.” It urges “creating spaces where people can lean into their painful feelings about the state of the world.” It continues,
We, who have been socialized by the dominant culture, do the work of looking at our varying levels of privilege, while undoing our cultural conditioning. When we acknowledge how we have perpetuated systems of oppression, we can stop participating in those systems and refuse to let them live within us.
Curious Climate also refers users to Climate Distress Workshops for people “working on the front line of the climate emergency including climate activists, scientists and policy makers,” who need “a safe, containing space for the expression and working through of people’s emotional response to climate change.”
Enough about feelings, let’s get back to the Tassie kids’ questions.
Dr Phillipa McCormack, a climate law researcher at the University of Adelaide, was asked: “How much investment is required to make a drastic change?” She tells her pint-sized interlocutor that it will cost $300 billion to $50 trillion [yikes!] to saturate the landscape with subsidised windmills and batteries. This would cost less than unrestrained global warming, she claims, ignoring that CO2 increases have boosted global crop yields to record levels worth countless billions. She continues: “Climate change is making disasters like extreme bushfires and droughts more common, and these kinds of disasters already cost Australians a lot (approx. $3 trillion from 2010-2019!). These costs, which relate to damage and lost income, are going to increase a lot if we do not take urgent action on climate change.”
I can imagine the conversation:
Kylie (aged 9), nursing her Cabbage Patch doll: Wow Dr Phillipa, $3 trillion’s a lot! Is that the same as $3,000,000,000,000?”
Dr Phillipa: Yes Kylie, your maths are fantastic.
Kylie: My doll’s name is Topsy. So the ten-year average cost of our natural disasters has been $300 billion a year?
Dr Phillipa: “Good maths again, Kylie, you clever kid!”
Kylie: “But doesn’t Deloitte says the cost only averages $37 billion a year, not $300 billion?”
Dr Phillipa: “Trust me, I’m a senior Adelaide academic. Never mind that Deloitte crowd.”
Kylie: “OK Dr Phillipa. That’s the bell for playtime. Topsy and me are off to the tuckshop.”
Tassie’s poor little kids have already been got at by their know-nothing activist teachers, judging by the questions kids served up to UTAS indoctrinators. Here’s a sample:
♦ I’m thirteen. What do you think climate change will alter about the world in my lifetime, and what can I do about it?
♦ How will our generation live a full life as it is supposed to get unbearably hot by something like 2033?
♦ When, or if, we hit past 1.5 celsius degree temperature rise, what will happen exactly and will it lead to Earth’s doom?
♦ Will climate change make us live elsewhere? eg: underwater or in space?
♦ Will all the reefs die?
♦ How do we stop pollution of factories?
♦ What would happen if all the polar icecaps were melted?
♦ What will the future look like for the animals living in areas affected by climate change e.g., Polar bears [Polar bear populations are increasing, actually].
♦ What will be the first effects of climate change that we will notice in Tasmania? [Tasmania could do with some warming, if you ask me].
♦ How long will it take if we all decide to stop climate change together? [Does that include Vlad Putin, Xi Jin-ping and India?].
♦ If everyone in the world was vegan, how would that help Climate Change?
♦ Did Covid stop people from travelling and have a positive impact on climate change? [Kids’ hand-me-down priorities are odd].
I particularly liked this reply by Dr Vanessa Adams, a conservation and planning specialist.
Q: What are the main things we need to know about climate change?
A: The science of climate change is settled.
That’s great, all those climate scientists can now get off the taxpayer teat and find real jobs….
Over 99% of scientists agree it is anthropogenic – caused by humans.
She seems to be citing the ridiculous 2015 paper by Dr John Cook, from her own alma mater James Cook University, and even that paper only claimed 97 per cent consensus about climate cliches
Climate change causes extreme weather — heatwaves, floods, fires, more intense storms and sea level rise.
Another ripper answer is from Karen Palmer and Dr Gabi Mocatta. They even peddle the old chestnut about Tuvalu and the Maldives drowning from rising seas. Tuvalu is expanding, as even the ABC/RMIT Fact Check has conceded, and the Maldives is pell-mell building airports and hotels. Maybe the academics are recalling the Maldives cabinet staging a meeting underwater in 2009 as a publicity stunt run by a British PR flak.
As if those howlers aren’t enough they go on to peddle the nonsense about “millions of people displaced by climate change by 2050”, the same scary meme that UNEP was caught out fabricating in 2011.
Ever the professional reporter, I emailed UTAS asking whether its Curious Climate — Schools program is on-going. Here’s the reply from Georgina Sutton, UTAS manager, Education Outreach:
I am very happy to say that it will be going ahead in schools again this year.
General information can be found here (https://curiousclimate.org.au/schools/) and further information will be sent to schools directly in the coming weeks.
We will ensure you are on the distribution list for that information.
Thanks for your interest in this outstanding program.
Tony Thomas’ latest essay collection “Foot Soldier in the Culture Wars” ($29.95) is available from publisher ConnorCourt
[i] Apart from sea level rise, which has been happening since the 1700s’ Little Ice Age and currently rises by about a palm and fingers length per century.