Evironmental Playacting

Today’s youth will fight climate change, we’re told—but they’re no more willing to give up luxuries than anyone else.

Heather Mac Donald – September 9, 2019 – City Journal

Youth will save the planet, according to the elite narrative about global warming. It was young voters who were “asking the tough questions” and holding “Democrats’ feet to the fire” at last week’s Democratic climate-change pontificon, reported the New York Times. A high school student challenged Julian Castro about his previous support for fracking and demanded to know why “should we trust you . . . to transition our economy to renewables?” Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar was grilled by a Columbia University student about her possible fealty to the beef and dairy industries. A Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University berated Joe Biden for allowing a natural gas company executive to host a fundraiser for him; fossil-fuel companies are committing “crimes against humanity,” announced this shoo-in for a prestigious professorship.

The claim about youth’s transformative commitment to radical environmental change is—based on informal observation—bunk. The cardinal rule when it comes to environmental virtue-signaling is that people give up what they’re willing to give up. Young people are no different. If being environmentally sound required sacrificing anything that a self-described environmental warrior actually valued, the conversation would quickly change to a different topic. One’s own habits are necessary; it’s everyone else’s that need to change.

This always-unreached threshold for environmental sacrifice is particularly notable on the part of celebrity Greens, with their fortress-like SUVs, multiple residences, and massive carbon footprints—whether it’s the cavalcade of yachts and private jets that brought such luminaries as Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Zuckerberg, and Katy Perry to Google’s three-day climate-change summit in Sicily this July; environmental crusaders Prince Harry and Meghan Markle jetting off to Elton John’s French estate; or Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter’s “quick day trip” to Los Angeles from New York just ahead of the CNN climate-change debate. A police caravan drives New York City mayor Bill de Blasio 11 miles from his mayoral mansion in Manhattan to his favorite gym in Brooklyn. “Everyone in their own life has to change their own habits to start protecting the earth,” he has intoned, but taking the subway is not one of those changes appropriate for him.