John Klar: Why are youth climate activists the greatest polluters?

By John Klar

America’s 1973 oil crisis shocked Americans with fuel shortages, lines at gas pumps, and civil unrest. Congress reduced speed limits to 55 MPH on federal highways to conserve fuel. Anxiety persisted in 1976, when Jimmy Carter was elected America’s champion of increased efficiency, for both energy and water.

Just days into his presidency, President Carter bravely called on all Americans to change their patterns of consumption:

“We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and grandchildren. We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources. By acting now, we can control our future instead of letting the future control us.”

John Klar

That’s right: a three-minute shower. The bather gets wet; then the shower is shut off, then soap and shampoo are applied, then the water is turned on for the rinse. My grandfather would stand outside the door and time me. He would stop the timer when I shut the valve off to lather up, then resume timing me when rinsing commenced.

I cannot say that I have habitually taken three-minute showers in the subsequent 42 years. However, I can confidently say I have more greatly appreciated showers of any duration as a consequence.

In contrast, many adults in the current political climate have abdicated instructing the young in the importance of frugality. Carter sought to reduce consumption by calling for individual responsibility and patriotic self-sacrifice through specific policies. Today, many teachers and other leaders encourage the young to be angry and protest without policy — without introspection — in the name of climate change.

Today’s histrionic “adults” inculcate fear and anger in America’s young, bequeathing hopelessness and intellectual laziness to their children along with swollen government debt, polluted air and water, and destroyed families and communities. Carter warned in 1977:

“The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America…. Confidence in the future has supported everything else — public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States…. In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns.”

The problem has indeed worsened. Today’s young are much more interested in feigned victimhood than personal corrective action. One marketing research study “found that Millennials fall behind others when it comes to the easier green activities: Only 33 percent of Millennials say they adjust the thermostat to save energy (vs. 48 percent of all Americans) and just 34 percent recycled paper and aluminum cans (vs. 46 percent overall).”

But consider these additional symptoms of a frugality deficiency:

  • A Pew Research Center survey revealed that: Some 88% of 18- to 29-year-olds indicate that they use any form of social media. That share falls to 78% among those ages 30 to 49, to 64% among those ages 50 to 64, and to 37% among Americans 65 and older.
  • The Centers for Disease Control determined that: Almost half (44.9 percent) of 20- to 39-year-olds eat fast food on a given day. The rate drops to 37.7% for those aged 40 to 59 and to 24.1% for those 60 and older.
  • Pew Research related that: Roughly nine-in-ten American adults (92%) own a mobile phone of some kind. Although these mobile devices are ubiquitous today, the share of adults who own one has risen substantially since 2004, when Pew Research conducted its first poll on cell ownership.
  • CNBC averred that: More than half of millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1996, think that they will be millionaires at some point in their lives….Over 70% of millennial men say they will be millionaires at some point, while 38% of millennial women report being similarly optimistic.
  • Young people are more likely to have numerous electronic devices, as Pew found that: The majority of youth have access to three or four of the five items asked about on the survey — desktop or laptop computer, smartphone, basic phone, tablet, and game console. Fully seven-in-ten teens have or have access to three or four of those items.

What this reveals is a generation that pollutes more than the older generations it is encouraged to deride. The US Census further reveals of today’s youth:

“Of young people living in their parents’ home, 1 in 4 are idle, that is they neither go to school nor work. This figure represents about 2.2 million 25- to 34-year-olds…. Table 4: ‘More Than Half of Younger Millennials Live in Their Parents’ Homes’…. Table 6: ‘One in Four Young People Living at Home Are Neither in School Nor Working.’”

Today’s climate-change activists are not curtailing their own activity. They invoke “the planet” (which “cannot speak for itself”) as their self-righteous voice of anger and indignation. But if they wish to change the climate, they must consider the electronic waste in their own techno-addicted eyes. Today’s old fogeys had neither the capacity to pollute in their youth, nor the propensity to waste now, that these youngsters demonstrate with alacrity.

This provides proper context for the international lecture recently pronounced by Greta Thunberg, who ironically raged: “My message is that we’ll be watching you. (applause) This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I’m one of the lucky ones…”

Everything is quite upside down here, and the adults on the planet are supposed to take the lead — as Carter did 40 years ago. Instead, many world leaders applaud aimless child protests that supposedly “raise awareness.”  A better plan is for young people to stop polluting so heavily via electronic devices. Greta says “We are willing to do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse even if that means skipping school or work….” Is it within her power to encourage America’s youth to be the generation that does less polluting and complaining rather than being the one that does both more?

Perhaps conservation — of water, computer and phone use, gasoline, electricity, food — should be taught in school, and children could contribute solutions rather than be encouraged by adults to skip school to gripe. America’s youth would greatly benefit if all were trained in the discipline of a three-minute shower and perhaps a mouth-washing with soap. That way the ecosystem would benefit.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. Originally published at LibertyNation.

8 thoughts on “John Klar: Why are youth climate activists the greatest polluters?

  1. The extent to which a nation can have self-governing is very much dependent on how well the people are at governing themselves.

    “All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet. It may do for other countries and other governments to talk about the State supporting religion. Here, under our own free institutions, it is Religion which must support the State.” – Robert Winthrop – 1849

    “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  2. The only thing in my basement are mice and Mr. Victor (mouse trap) take care of that. Is there a mouse trap for millennials?

  3. Mr. Klar: I bought my first car and started a business the year before the oil embargo of which you speak. I remember the time well. Your account is prescient. If only the naysayers would consider our history. See my comment to Mr. Tugg Mynuts below.

    The concentration of victimhood is endemic in the progressive media, and we all know who they are, nationally and locally. What truly surprises me is the absence of introspection. Every day I ask myself – what can I do faster, better, cheaper… with an emphasis, always, on ‘better’. Nowhere does the case for victimhood ever arise.

    Today I’m reminded of my elementary school science titration experiment where a solution of known concentration is used to determine the concentration of an unknown solution until neutralization is reached with the addition of one last drop into the unknown solution, typically indicated by an instantaneous change in color with the last drop.

    For better or worse, the constant drip, drip, drip of victimhood is upon us, and it becomes more and more difficult not to feel the victim when so many around us have fallen prey to it.

    “How did you go bankrupt? Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

  4. All Boomers should be shot out of a cannon. How can Millennials adjust the thermostat when they live at home according to your article. I feel bad for anyone you represent.

    • All I can say at this juncture is to hold fast to the principals of individual responsibility no matter what the future brings. After all, there does appear to be hope in our midst. Example: for one of the first times, I see one of the so-called victims – one Mr. Tugg Mynuts – at least visiting the TNR community. That’s a start. And I take this opportunity to challenge him to explain, if indeed he has any, why a Millennial living at home can’t or shouldn’t adjust the thermostat.

  5. Piers Morgan recently interviewed the woman who started Extinction Rebellion and asked her similar questions as posed above. Why does she use an automobile, computer, etc if she truly believes that these activities contribute to climate change. Her answer was that the individual can do nothing to remedy the situation. Nearly every millenial I know is a believer in the need for immediate action to reverse climate change and also represents the worst of a wasteful society. Many older conservatives are models of sustainability and conservation. We consolidate trips, turn down the thermostat, recycle, dry our clothes outdoors on lines, and shut off lights when no longer needed. Our hypocritical younger generation could learn a lot from their conservative elders.

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