Thousands of students around the world are leaving class Friday, going on "strike" to demand immediate action against climate change. But critics say they miss these important big-picture facts.
On Friday morning, more than a thousand teenagers in Philadelphia joined youth in cities all over the country and the world to protest the governments inaction in the face of the existential threat of climate change. The Global Climate Strike was started by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Earlier this week, Thunberg testified in Congress. Instead of submitting a written testimony for the record, she submitted the U.N. report on climate change that predicts that the window to act before damage is irreversible will close in 2030. Her request to lawmakers: I dont want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists.
Video: Greta Thunberg speaks about climate strike | USA TODAY
Some climate scientists say the term "existential emergency," meaning the existence of humanity itself is endangered, is scaremongering.
Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are not listening to the scientists. While other states like Washington, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland have put forward bold policies to cut down on emissions, Pennsylvanias divided government has lagged behind. That is particularly concerning because Pennsylvania ranks fifth in state energy-related CO2 emissions in part due to the natural gas fracking industry — a practice that some Democratic presidential candidates propose to ban.
Video: Celebrities Supporting the Global Climate Strike | E! News
"Climate strikers and others (including most of the Democratic presidential candidates) refer to climate change as an existential crisis. This is nonsense," Judith Curry, a climate scientist and former professor at Georgia Tech, told Fox News.
The United Nations' average models forecast a further rise of between 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100.
In the short term, new plants bring jobs and tax revenue. But while gas production is cleaner than coal, it is by no means a clean source of energy. We need to be clear-eyed about the environmental impact and the costs of being a leading energy state. In fact, many of the costs of climate change are already here.
Curry says the high end of the U.N.’s estimates are “based on implausible scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions.”
The impacts of climate change are here, they are now, they are deadly, and they are costly. Its time for local and state lawmakers to realize that their decisions have a direct impact on their constituents today — but also on Earth itself and our collective future.
Youth climate strikers call for environmental action in Philly
“The reason that the forecast temperature rise is an existential crisis for many species on Earth is that it is happening so fast,” Alasdair Skelton, Professor of Geochemistry at Stockholm University, told Fox News.
“Species, including ourselves, are unlikely to be able to adapt at the pace of ongoing human-induced climate change,” he added.
A 2018 study by economist Richard Tol in the journal Review of Environmental Economics and Policy found that climate change "will likely have a limited impact on the economy and human welfare in the 21st century."
Thousands Of DC-Area Students Skip School To Participate In Global Climate Strike
“Climate activists take a dim view of human ingenuity,” Tol told Fox News regarding past failed environmental doom stories.
Greta Thunberg took an “emissions-free” boat from Europe to the U.S. — but her sea voyage actually spewed more carbon emissions than flying would have.
Thousands gather in Seattle to demand government action on fossil fuels, climate change.
That was first reported by left-leaning German news outlet TAZ, which interviewed a spokesman for the boat operators and found that the boat trip required at least six flights — more than if she had simply flown to the U.S. and back.
"It's nothing more than virtue signaling," said Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot, a website that's skeptical about the impact of climate change.
Hundreds of Aspen students join in Global Climate Strike, march to City Hall
"Greta took this carbon-fiber, very expensive yacht… The media is completely whitewashing this," he added.
"I think that Greta is showing a point how difficult it is to go fossil free as an individual without changing the system. That is why it is so important to change the system," Ingmar Rentzhog, the founder of "We Don't Have Time" and the man who first publicized Thunberg's climate strike, told Fox News. Rentzhog noted that he didn't speak for Thunberg.
Video: #WYSC: The strike heard around the world
The San Diego Unified School Board unanimously resolved that the board is "proud of students’ leadership in calling for aggressive climate action."
Video: #WYSC: The strike heard around the world
Hundreds of young climate activists to strike in Downtown Honolulu
“Schools should not be political tools,” Anthony Watts, who runs the skeptical climate site WattsUpWithThat.com, told Fox News.
“As a former school board member, I'm concerned that enabling this sort of behavior… will encourage… school protests on a variety of topics.”
Some major cities, including New York City and Boston, have announced that kids are allowed to skip school for the climate strike if they have a note from their parent.
Others, including Chicago, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, have not granted blanket amnesty for class-skipping students.
The International Climate Strike website states: "People everywhere are at risk if we let oil, coal and gas companies continue to pour more fuel on the fire." It demands "100% renewable energy access for all" to happen "swiftly."
Young people and adults in Philadelphia demanding action to reduce emissions and fight the effects of climate change. I want to be able to have kids, told me a teenager. pic.twitter.com/zg7MT3CEob
Skleton defends that, noting, “burning natural gas puts carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which causes global warming.”
The whole world is watching. The whole world has its eyes all over the cities, which young people are overwhelming our public spaces to demand that a new world is absolutely possible, Gym said.
Others say that misses the mark, noting that in the United States, greenhouse gas emissions fell over the last ten years thanks to increased production of relatively-clean natural gas.
And it shouldnt be our responsibility to fix it, but were out here today so that we can have a future and there could be future generations that have a future and can prosper, she said.
“The U.S. is doing better than most European countries at reducing emissions, and it's because of tech advances in fracking and natural gas — which activists are just ideologically opposed to,” Morano said.
"The strategy for only using renewables in the near term is a fantasy," Curry said, adding that nuclear power is the only feasible option for such a switch — but it is not trendy.
Many media outlets cover the climate strike and Greta Thunberg uncritically. A Vice article described her as “the girl who changed the world” and “the voice of a generation” who spontaneously started the climate strike.
But critics say that her strike was timed within weeks of a book release by her mother about activism, and the climate strike idea was proposed to her by climate activist Bo Thorén.
California students join global strike demanding action on climate change
When Thunberg decided to do it, Thorén told another activist, Ingmar Rentzhog, who photographed her one-girl strike and used his "We Don't Have Time" organization to spread the word.
“This is no secret,” Rentzhog told Fox News of the tip-off, adding that rumors he knew Thunberg’s parents were false.
Hundreds of Hawaii students to join protesters calling for climate change action
“Ideas mean nothing if not that someone is willing to make a reality of them,” Rentzhog added in defense of Thunberg. “And Greta… has a great talent to express herself in a very clear and direct way about the problem.”
Meet 8 Youth Protest Leaders
But critics say the "climate strike" is a sad testament to activists' successful efforts to scare kids.
“Polling data shows kids are fearful about climate, coming into school with anxiety – even when the U.N. models don’t justify that fear,” Morano said.
Maxim Lott is Executive Producer of Stossel TV and creator of ElectionBettingOdds.com. He can be reached on Twitter at @MaximLott