Inconvenient Kids?

The Wall Street Journal published an article on the influence that environmental issues are having on young kids and, as a result, their families. I shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose, but I found the thing to be an insufferable examination of all the ways these environmentally-minded kids are nagging and otherwise inconveniencing their parents.

In households across the country, kids are going after their parents for environmental offenses, from using plastic cups to serving non-grass-fed beef at the dinner table. Many of these kids are getting more explicit messages about becoming eco-warriors at school and from popular books and movies.

The article proceeds to site example after example of how kids are forcing their parents to do hugely inconvenient and unconscionable acts like composting, using reusable shopping bags and buying more fuel-efficient cars.

In Princeton, N.J., James Verbeyst’s energy-saving fixation cost his mother $5,500 — the difference between the Toyota Matrix she was going to buy and the hybrid she finally purchased. With every car she looked at that wasn’t a Prius, the 8-year-old protested by announcing the Prius’s gas mileage. James says now he likes the Prius more than his dad’s Jaguar. His reason: “You’re not hurting any animals.” …

Ailer often tells his mom about the wonders of composting and runs around the supermarket parking lot picking up trash. He has pestered her, his grandmother and a Safeway cashier to get rid of plastic bags and use reusable cloth ones instead. In response to his complaint, the cashier fired back that eating fast-food hamburgers is worse than using plastic, referring to the environmental impact of beef production. Now Ailer is bugging his mom to stop buying hamburgers.

Of course, this all plays right into the game plan of environmental extremists like NRDC, PETA, Laurie David, Al Gore and Queen Latifah (narrator of the film “An Artic Tale”).

Kids were tapped by the green movement as early as the 1970s, when recycling bins started showing up in schools. In 1971, Keep America Beautiful famously launched its antipollution-ad campaign featuring the “crying Indian.” Today, eco-marketers are going a step further — not just teaching kids to recycle, but using them as a proxy in the war against their opponents. (my emphasis)

Some groups are fighting back. In response to Ms. David’s new book about global warming, for example, the Science & Public Policy Institute, a nonprofit in Washington that takes aim at what it calls fallacies about global warming, issued a press release saying the book “is intentionally designed to propagandize unsuspecting schoolchildren who don’t have enough knowledge to know what is being done to them.”

Now I’m curious: How many articles has the Wall Street Journal published about kids nagging and cajoling their parents into buying environmentally unfriendly and/or unhealthy products as a result of the influence of huge marketing efforts employed by everyone from toy companies to fast food restaurants to junk cereal companies? Since the ratio of dollars spent (on both the part of advertisers and parents) is something on the order of 1,000,000 to 1, the WSJ must have just a slew of articles about this dangerous manipulation of kids, right???

(See here for some background on SPPI. I wonder where that organization gets its funding and if WSJ bothered to ask?)


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