Our atmosphere is being poisoned.
This poison is seeping into our brains. It is killing us.
The poison is not carbon dioxide: it is Fear.
It is irresponsible to pretend that carbon dioxide is a poison which is killing us; shoving this fearful idea down the throats of trusting children who are a captive audience is a heinous form of child abuse.
I am honoured to teach a class on business and entrepreneurship in the Jane-Finch community. Every week, I get to spend time with 14 bright, hard-working high school students who dedicate time after school learning how to start a business, from businesspeople.
Early in the program, the class was tasked with inventing a product to manufacture and sell. One of the most engaged and serious girls in the class suggested:
“We should invent a process to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”
“That already exists,” I pointed out tactfully. “The process is ‘photosynthesis.’ Plants do that: they take carbon dioxide out of the air and produce oxygen and sugar.”
The class stared at me blankly. “Is anyone taking Biology?” No hands went up. “Chemistry?” I asked hopefully. Nothing.
“Are no sciences required? What is one class that everyone takes?” I asked.
“English!” the class chorused.
OK…so everyone can read terrifying media articles about climate change, but no one realizes carbon dioxide is not toxic. Good to know.
This conversation took a frightening turn as we discussed creating a board game: one boy suggested it should have a post-apocalyptic survival theme. Players would compete for resources in a world destroyed by climate change.
“Miss, could one of the options be ‘suicide’?” a student asked.
“Yeah!” another chimed in enthusiastically. “And if you knew you were going to die, you could use your next three turns taking out as many of your enemies as possible before you go! We could call it, ‘Escape from Toronto.’”
“Whoa!” I jumped in. “Suicide is not an option, the world is not ending, and I don’t know where you would escape to that is better than Canada – most of the world wants to come here. How about we create the rules so that you can leave all the resources you collected to your allies if you die, to give them a better chance to survive?”
The students liked this idea, and turned to discussing what the resources should be: food, shelter, medical care, magical superpowers. The basics.
This conversation haunts me. Why are we instilling young people with fear when we should be imbuing them with confidence?
These kids need to wake up every day thinking, “Anything is possible!” not “We are all doomed.”
Why work hard, create a plan, invest in skills, or develop relationships when you don’t expect to be here 12 years from now?
What kind of adult would poison the minds of young people with the idea that they should live in fear? It is criminal. It is beyond abuse – it is a murderous attack on their hopes of achievement before their dreams can even be conceived.
The only thing we have to fear, speechwriter Napoleon Hill famously wrote, is Fear itself. Yet, we are allowing fear merchants unfettered access to the minds of our kids.
Enough is enough. This has to stop. Parents, teachers, businesspeople, journalists, artists, and athletes need to tell young people: “You have a future, and it can be great! Study hard. Work hard. Think positively. Believe.”