Stephen Moore

A friend's third-grade daughter came home from school a few weeks ago with tears streaming down her cheeks. "My teacher says we only have 10 years before the oceans rise and we are underwater," she moaned. "Are we all going to die?"

That's a heavy burden to place on the shoulders of a 9-year-old.

Gloomy stories of the coming apocalypse have become commonplace in schools, textbooks, churches, movies and even children's bedtime stories.

This over-the-top campaign of doom is clearly affecting the psyches of the young. We saw an example when Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish girl, gained international publicity by passionately telling a United Nations panel: "Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction." She says we have only eight-and-a-half years left.

This poor girl, whom some are saying triumphantly is the voice of her generation, sounded terribly frightened.

Then there is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the 29-year-old voice of the millennials, whose message is that the baby boomers have ruined the planet for her generation. She says we have 10 years left to head off planetary destruction.

Of course, there are major challenges for the younger generations, as there have been in every age since man appeared on the planet. My parents had to overcome polio, the Great Depression and Nazi Germany. When I was a kid, we had bomb drills in school because of fear of nuclear bombs.

But to fill the young with false fears  is to ignore the true state of the planet. It isn't dying. The young should be celebrating what every objective measure shows: They are living at the greatest moment in the history of the globe.

For those under the age of 30, listen up: You will live longer, healthier lives with more material wealth than any previous generation. You will inherit a world with less poverty, less disease, more leisure time, less pollution, less discrimination and more opportunity to achieve your dreams and aspirations than any other generation -- except for your children's and grandchildren's.

You are not inheriting a severely injured planet but one in which thousands of years of accumulated human knowledge makes you capable of combating almost any problem or catastrophe.

The history of modern times human ingenuity, innovation and technological know-how have combated the challenges that mankind confronts. If you think global warming is a challenge, thank God you don't have to deal with smallpox, typhoid, tuberculosis, polio or the plague. The black death in Europe killed about 1 of every 4 residents.

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I always marvel that the "woe is me" refrain from the young today is often recited as they tap on their $600 iPhones (charged with the electric power they want to do away with) and they carry around caramel lattes from Starbucks. I tell my kids that without fossil fuels, they may not have power for their computer games.

As recently as a century ago, cities from London to Pittsburgh to Mexico City to Los Angeles were filled with dark and dangerous clouds of smog that choked people's lungs and prevented the sun from shining. These pollution levels have fallen by 50%, 70% and even 90%.

Children are now taught that cars are evil polluters and that the combustible engine needs to be abolished. When Henry Ford started rolling his Model T's off the assembly lines 100 years ago, he was heralded as the greatest environmental savior in the history of the planet. Why? Because cars replaced horses -- which dropped many tons of toxic manure into the city streets.

It is sadly ironic that the greens who want to save the planet are also the ones that turn to the intellectual dead-end of socialism and statism to fix things.

The young like to cite the "scientific consensus" that climate change will be catastrophic. Maybe. But 30 years ago, scientists warned of overpopulation, food shortages, energy scarcity and even mass starvation. All of these scares were combated through innovation and progress.

Bad things happen and as we grow richer and wiser, we will be better equipped with the resources and the brainpower to deal with catastrophes than any previous generation since the dawn of time.

Our responsibility is to teach the children how to solve problems effectively, not to preach the end of the world.

America's millennials will inherit some $100 trillion of wealth -- a bigger treasure chest of knowledge and resources than all other preceding generations', combined. How about some gratitude?

If the planet continues to warm and the oceans rise, you have the creativity, brainpower and tool chest to figure out the solution. I don't know what that will be, but I do know that the solution isn't moving us backward in time to the pre-industrial and pre-energy age -- when life was pretty rotten.

This next generation will figure it out. They will save the planet from extinction. And the really good news is there's a lot more than eight and  a half years to come up with the right solutions.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks.


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