It’s not easy being a kid these days. What with the high divorce rate, disintegrating families, bullying and violence in the schools, drug and alcohol abuse, gangs, peer pressure, the lack of proper role models, eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia, childhood obesity at the other end of the scale, increasing rates of depression and other clinical psychopathologies, and the decline of religion with its resultant absence of anything to believe in — it all adds up to a real bummer of a childhood for altogether too many.

But as if all that wasn’t enough, one more thing can now be added to the list of childhood horrors: global warming. (Cue shrieking violin music from “Psycho” shower scene: Re-e-e-e-t! Re-e-e-e-t! Re-e-e-e-t! Re-e-e-e-t!) That’s right. According to a survey of British children between the ages of seven and eleven, fully half are worried about it and many of them are actually losing sleep at night.

Well, golly gee willikers! How pitiful can you get? When I was that age the only way I was losing sleep was over things like a bad report card or maybe worrying about how many licks I was going to get when my dad found out I broke one of his golf clubs.

And even though the Cold War was raging and we were all highly cognizant of the possibility of worldwide nuclear annihilation, I never lost any sleep over it and never heard of any other kid who did either. Lose sleep over global warming? Whining over such a thing back then probably would have gotten you a thrashing for being a sniveling pansy.

But things are different nowadays and in Britain the ultimate in scary bedtime stories might go something like this:

Once upon a time there was a pristine planet where all of nature lived in perfect harmony and was as yet unsullied by the rapacious depredations of that two-legged menace known as man. But after eons and eons of such peaceful, co-existential splendor, modern Homo sapiens made their appearance on the Eden-like world stage after a long period of evolution which had its humble beginnings in the primordial sludge.It wasn’t to be long before this arrogant, greedy creature would scar vast swathes of the planet without a care for its other creatures or its vegetation. And now the earth is faced with the ultimate disaster of uncontrollable climate change, the apocalyptic consequences of which we are barely even able to conceive, but of which we can be certain will be devastating.

Kinda sends a chill down your spine, doesn’t it? If that’s not enough to make the kiddies pull the sheets over their heads at night and tremble in fear, then what is? Well, actually, maybe an article in the UK Telegraph on Feb. 25, 2007, which featured this headline: “Secret report: Terror threat worst since 9/11.” The article said that the director general of MI5, the British intelligence service, has warned that there were 200 known networks involved in 30 terrorist plots and it is thought there could be in excess of 2,000 British citizens involved.

Kinda sends a chill down your spine, doesn’t it? If that’s not enough to make the kiddies pull the sheets over their heads at night and tremble in fear, then what is? Well, actually, maybe an  in the UK Telegraph on Feb. 25, 2007, which featured this headline: “Secret report: Terror threat worst since 9/11.” The article said that the director general of MI5, the British intelligence service, has warned that there were 200 known networks involved in 30 terrorist plots and it is thought there could be in excess of 2,000 British citizens involved.What that means for the average British child, then, is that at any moment he and/or members of his family could be blown to kingdom come, possibly by one of his culturally diverse neighbors whose ways he has been taught to accept without question or hesitation. But, sure, it all makes perfect sense that while Britain is under the threat of radical Islamic terrorism at every moment, it raises a generation of milquetoast moppets who quiver in fear in their beds at night over bug-eyed predictions of a climatological cataclysm based on a science that is absolutely notorious for its inexactness and tendency toward gross error.

Or at least it makes sense to a commenter on the message board for an article on this subject: “My heart goes out to ALL the little ones of our world. They will be forced to deal with and try to survive from what man had set into action for them! Wake up people, this is as real as it gets!”

That’s funny. I thought the coordinated terrorist bomb blasts that hit London’s public transport system on 7/7/05 and killed and injured hundreds seemed a tad more real. Or how about those skyscrapers full of thousands of innocent people crashing to the ground in Manhattan? They’re the kinds of things that strike me as altogether more palpable than what’s currently got the kids tossing and turning.

But let’s say the earth really is in for a spot of fairly significant warming. Time was when British kids — being like any other kids, which is to say, lighthearted, carefree and frolicsome — would have been thrilled at the prospect of any improvement to the sceptre’d isle’s otherwise miserable, rainy, chilly, weather. Looks like such trivial considerations are now far outweighed by the imposition upon them of the West’s guilt complex over its fabulous economic success which has led to the current climatological emergency now faced by every living creature on the planet.

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