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The New Children’s Crusade?

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Last month environmental groups, with Our Children’s Trust, used children as plaintiffs in suing President Donald Trump for allegedly imperiling future generations by turning his back on President Barack Obama’s policies to fight climate change.

It reminds me of when, in 1212,thousands of European children attempted to march to Palestine to liberate the Holy Land, expecting the Mediterranean Sea to part when they reached its shores. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t, and those who left Europe did so on merchant ships. Many died in shipwrecks, and those who reached North Africa were captured and sold into slavery.

Modern environmentalism seeks something more ambitious than anything those children sought. Instead of merely making the seas part before them, they seek to control earth’s entire climate through legislation and now the courts.

In 2008,Obama declared that his presidency was “the moment when the rise in the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal,” and then set off to push draconian polices aimed at destroying the oil, coal, and natural gas industries.

Obama no longer is in the White House, and like their medieval counterparts, environmentalists have turned toward using children, this time to bolster the Left’s eternal efforts to give us better weather.

They filed suit in the court of a friendly judge in the very liberal Ninth Circuit, hoping the suit will go to trial before a jury of leftist Portlanders will order the president to give us better weather. Whether or not this particular suit will succeed is hard to know, but it does point to a future in which unelected judges, working at the behest of special interest groups, will imposecostlyandineffectivepolicies upon Americans, dragging millions into poverty for no good reason other than to make environmentalists feel good.

Using the courts to impose policies not addressed directly by Congress or the White House is not new to environmental groups. In av2004 paper inThe Independent Review, economists Andrew P. Morriss and Bruce Yandle wrote about how the Environmental Protection Agency used the courts to force new regulations on makers of heavy-duty diesel engines, even though such regulations were not part of the Clean Air Acts.

This time, environmentalists are parading children as props to impose an economic and political agenda that, interestingly enough, would be harmful for children. We know that real economic growth through liberalized economic policies actually reduces poverty, and especially the extreme poverty that is so injurious to the health and welfare of little children. At the same time, we also know that piling on environmental regulations raises production costs and helps shrink economic growth, the very kind of growth that improves the health and welfare of the most vulnerable people among us.

However, environmentalists argue, economic growth means nothing if future generations are forced to live on a despoiled planet where temperatures become too hot to sustain any decent quality of life. Thus, in order to make earth habitable, we must impose new rulesnowto forestall or even reverse the inevitable rise of global temperatures, and even if those rules are costly, their net results will make any present economic deprivations worth the effort to force a switch from fuels such as oil, gas, and coal and depend instead on wind, solar, and other so-called renewables to generate electric power.

This argument is deeply flawed. Even the most optimistic climate and emissions models predict that the imposition of draconian environmental policiesat bestwould reduce global temperatures only a fraction of a degree.This statement is not a misprint. For all intents and purposes, assuming even that earth’s actual temperatures are rising, environmental policies that would reduce economic output to the tune of trillions of dollars would haveno appreciable effecton our climate.

We should step back and examine the logical chain of thinking environmentalists are presenting: In order to “save” future generations of children, we must impose policies that areguaranteedto result in a rise of infant mortality, and condemn more children to death and impairment from diseases that now are disappearing because of current economic growth. All this for costly policies that will have no appreciable effect on climate change, as the current science tells us.

Compared to modern environmentalists callously using children as political props, the adults who led the disastrous Children’s Crusades seem to be paragons of responsibility and reason. The children whose names are lent to the current lawsuit against President Trump are being used for an agenda that will result in more deaths of children—all in the name of “saving” them. The ancients once had a word for this sort of thing: evil.

William L. Anderson, Ph.D., is a Contributing Writer for The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and Professor of Economics at Frostburg State University, Frostburg, Maryland.

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