Throw milk on the ground. Throw food on the walls. Refuse to to eat. Bonding parts of the body. threatening to pee and poo in your pants. Are these the behaviors of a toddler? Yes. But these are also the dominant tactics of climate activists today.
Take the case of Gianluca Grimalda. On October 19, Grimalda, along with 15 other members of a climate activist group called Scientist Rebellion, stuck to the floor of the visitor center next to a Volkswagen factory in Germany.
Although VW security guards brought pizza to all the militant scientists, Grimalda, an economist who has published work in high-profile publications including the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, felt slighted. He declared a hunger strike and took to Twitter to express his outrage.
“VW told us they support our right to protest,” he said. complained in a since-deleted tweet, “but they refused our request to provide us with a bowl to urinate and defecate in a decent way while we’re glued, and turned off the heating.”
On Twitter, many pointed out the very childish nature of his requests. “I am a serious scientist who protests against fossil fuels”, wrote an user. “Now turn on the gas heater and bring me my pot.”
Activists say such childish tactics are necessary. On Sunday, after climate activists in Germany threw mashed potatoes at a Monet painting, they shouted at visitors to the nearby museum: ‘We won’t be able to feed our families in 2050’ because of climate change. climatic.
Grimalda tweeted that he and his colleagues are protesting “until our demands for the decarbonisation of the German transport sector are met”. But Volkswagen already agreed last year to end sales of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035.
In the not so distant past, left-wing protesters have used dignified, quiet, and noble tactics. Think of the arrest of Rosa Parks in 1955 after she refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white person, and the 1930 Salt March led by Gandhi, where nearly 60,000 people were arrested after having traveled 240 miles. Civil rights activists in the 1950s sat at lunch counters and demanded to be treated like grown adults. Then it was racist counter-protesters who poured them milkshakes. Today, it is the protesters who spill milk and throw food.
Obviously, these shock tactics are a surefire way to grab media attention. But there is another reason why the militants have regressed in their methods.
The infantilization of the climate movement reflects a broader infantilization of culture. It’s not just that we take longer to become adults, it’s also that adults retain more childlike characteristics. Adults even look to children for leadership. They chose Greta Thunberg as the face of the climate movement, after all.
Today, Westerners have many more opportunities to stay grounded in adolescence, either by going back to school or living with their parents longer than they did in the past, the researchers note.
The growing number of life choices confuses some people and makes it harder, not easier, for them to decide how to live their lives. “As a result,” the researchers write, “young people tend to run away and delay important decisions.”
People who refuse to grow up are mired in feelings of inadequacy and neuroticism, psychologists say, constantly worrying about making the wrong choices, which leads to depression, anger and addiction.
Pampering children also leads them to become narcissistic, only interested in themselves and leading them to claim themselves as victims when life gets tough. A third of people born between 1980 and 1986 complain that they were rushed into independence too early, despite experiencing the slowest introduction to adulthood of any generation in recorded history.
Sam Vankin, an Israeli psychologist and narcissism expert, says a growing body of research finds that awakening advocacy is fundamentally about using victimhood as a tactic. “What we are beginning to discover is that some people are inclined to adopt victimhood as an identity. They would seek to be victims even in situations where they would not otherwise have been victimized.
Vankin says these people are actually very aggressive. They “are actually very narcissistic and grandiose, extremely aggressive, lacking in empathy, and yet they claim to have been victimized all their lives because they’re super empathetic, sensitive and so on.” These are the exact claims Thunberg and her parents made about her childhood.
Researcher Ginger Coy added, “If a person laments being a victim, in this narcissistic era, that should be a red flag that they are likely an abuser.”
This is the case of climate activists. They are among the richest and most privileged people in the world, thanks to cheap and abundant fossil fuels. Some of them, like the heirs and heiresses of the Getty Oil and Rockefeller Oil fortunes, are more direct beneficiaries than others. Yet they actively seek to deprive others of those same fuels by funding the radical activism of Just Stop Oil activists.
Since young vandals are rewarded by the media and wealthy benefactors for their behavior, they should not be expected to stop. VW executives shouldn’t have brought pizza to protesters. On the contrary, they should have arrested and dismissed the activists immediately.
Governments will increasingly have the support of their citizens to quell these childish and destructive protests – and if they don’t act, the public will. In Italy last week angry drivers dragged eco-protesters off the road after stopping traffic on a busy Rome thoroughfare.
The police and the courts must be called upon to do their job so that the vigilantes do not. It is up to civil society to demand adult consequences for childhood behavior.
Michael Shellenberger is the author of ‘Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All’ and a Time magazine ‘Hero of the Environment’.