Some climate scientists say the term "existential emergency," meaning the existence of humanity itself is endangered, is scaremongering.
Protesting Climate Change, Young People Take to Streets in a Global Strike
"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.
They are mobilized around an issue of consistent concern across countries and across geographic areas, said Dana Fisher, a sociologist at the University of Maryland who studies social movements. It spans the developing-developed country divide. There arent that many issues that would unify in such a manner. And we all know the burden of climate change will fall on these kids shoulders when they are adults. They are acutely aware as well.
Video: Teen Activist Greta Thunberg Leads Global Climate Protest | NBC Nightly News
The United Nations' average models forecast a further rise of between 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100.
More than 100,000 protested in Melbourne, in what organizers said was the largest climate action in Australias history. The rally shut down key public transport corridors for hours. In Sydney, thousands gathered in the Domain, a public park east of the Central Business District — grandparents escorting their children holding homemade signs, groups of teenagers in school uniforms, parents handing out boxed raisins to their young children.
Curry says the high end of the U.N.’s estimates are “based on implausible scenarios of future greenhouse gas emissions.”
“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."
“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.
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.
"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.
The San Diego Unified School Board unanimously resolved that the board is "proud of students’ leadership in calling for aggressive climate action."
Theyre going to call BS, Ms. Fisher, the sociologist, said of the protesters. Its great for people at the United Nations summit to posture and say they care about this issue, but thats not enough to stop the climate crisis. These kids are sophisticated enough to recognize that.
“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."
The challenge is translating something that is a global movement into a kind of concentrated political pressure that can influence government decisions, she said. It needs to be translated to influencing decision makers who arent already convinced.
Skleton defends that, noting, “burning natural gas puts carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which causes global warming.”
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.
“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.
In Des Moines, Iowa, around 500 protesters with signs gathered outside the State Capitol, sweat rolling down their faces as temperatures hovered around 83 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 28 Celsius.
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.
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.
“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.”
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