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The debate is far from over

By Ben-Peter Terpstra - posted Thursday, 24 May 2007

“German psychologists have diagnosed ‘environmental angst’ and ‘ecochondria’ to describe the resulting migraines and depression, which are especially prevalent among the young” - Newsweek, December 2006.

Campaigning TV producers might not know much about kids, but they all know one thing: kids scare easily.

“When it comes to environmental manipulation,” reasons James Hirsen in Tales From The Left Coast, “Hollywood wouldn’t be so shortsighted as to leave out the kiddies. In September 1990 a show called Captain Planet and the Planeteers muscled its way into the minds of our little ones under the guise of a cartoon show.” Do we ever learn?


Explains Hirsen: “In the now-defunct show, Captain Planet … uses his powers to stop other beings from messing with the environment”. And the wickedest kid of all in this “multicultural” show, of course, is the “over-consuming ugly American who always seems to want food to satisfy his voracious appetite”.

Even, “the names of villains are crafted to help vent some animosity towards the stereotypical environmental abuser”. Yes, kids scare easily.

Captain Planet, however, didn’t foresee the scientific scandals now being exposed in the new millennium, or today’s backlash.

Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, first published in 1960s, for instance, was the launching pad for the cultural left’s anti-DDT crusade. The result? Millions died because the chattering classes’ fondness for “organic” apples blinded their eyes to Africa’s poverty. Today, however, DDT is back. Africans are, once again, winning the war against malaria. This is good news.

Think, too, about why Captain Planet’s hysterical theme song (“Captain Planet, he’s our hero, gonna take pollution down to zero”), was so attractive to TV producers. They didn’t have to showcase African cartoons dying of malaria. Dead people can’t argue back.

Another voice of sanity, Andrew Bolt, a Herald-Sun columnist, finds more comically absurd examples of environmental manipulation (from Free Willy to Finding Nemo) in his book The Best of Andrew Bolt.


States Bolt: “In Brother Bear, for instance, the hunter Kenai kills a bear, only to become a bear himself. He then finds that the bears are love and their human hunters are hate - so much so that when he is able to live again as a human, he refuses.” Bor-ing.

To argue that flooding a child’s school, television programs, reading materials, and soul, with apocalyptic visions isn’t psychologically harmful, is to live in denial. Right now, on some level, a young subject is consciously (or subconsciously) processing this moral garbage. Meanwhile, cashed-up fear merchants are fuelling pupils’ insecurities with yet more false prophecies.

How many messages of doom will the suicidal teenager, for example, receive before deciding that his or her life is nothing more than an inconvenient carbon footprint? “Environmental angst” and “ecochondria,” after all, are symptoms of a much larger problem. Groupthink.

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About the Author

Ben-Peter Terpstra has provided commentary for The Daily Caller (Washington D.C.), NewsReal Blog (Los Angeles), Quadrant (Sydney), and Menzies House (Adelaide).

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