Gen Z is already facing ‘eco-anxiety’ — because sources like Wired use ‘facts’ to terrify them
August 23, 2023
Climate change is scaring Generation Z. Yale says it’s damaging their mental health. The BBC says eco-anxiety is changing Gen Z’s behavior. Forbes says Gen Z fears it more than anything. So, we’d like the people telling Gen Z – and the rest of us – to be accurate about the risks of climate change.
Getting those risks accurate is a test Wired fails. Wired tells us of “10 Facts” – note, facts – “Which Prove The World Is In A Climate Emergency.” Some of these “facts” are true – there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere – but not proof of an emergency. That’s the subject under discussion. Not whether there will be changes, we all agree there, but how bad will the changes be? They talk of more wildfires, and that’s much more about the lack of goats. No, really. Those Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish wildfires are about the land being abandoned by now wealthier people who don’t have to try to live off a few goats eating scrub on half an acre.
And so on – but all of these are arguable. Or at least people will try to argue them, as they are arguing them. We want something said here that is wrong. Or, of course, the absence of that – so we can weigh up the other claims. One that’s entirely wrong casts doubt on the rest.
At this point, we are told this: “Across Africa, where many countries struggle with food insecurity, agricultural productivity has decreased 34 percent because of climate change. “No, that’s absurd — just nonsense. If agricultural productivity has fallen in Africa while the population grows, there would be hundreds of millions of very thin and starved bodies. There are problems in Africa, but that’s not one of them.
We can track this mistake back through the link that Wired uses. Here is the U.S. government making this claim. “Across Africa, agricultural productivity has declined by 34% due to climate change, more than in any other region, the U.N. Says. “It’s still wrong, of course. The U.N. says: “Across Africa, agricultural productivity has declined by 34 percent since 1961 due to climate change, more than in any other region. “And that’s still wrong. Here is what the IPCC – the U.N. organization dealing with research into climate change – says: “In Africa, agricultural productivity growth has been reduced by 34% since 1961 due to climate change.”
That addition of the word “growth” there is vital because African agriculture has been getting more productive, year by year, for well over half a century now (note that last, the FAO, is also a part of the U.N.).
The truth is that food production and agricultural productivity have been rising in Africa this past half-century. It has been growing slower than it could have without climate change – that’s the scientific claim. But this becomes, through the U.N., the U.S. government, and then the journalism at Wired, that it has been falling.
No wonder Gen Z is getting paranoid if that’s the level of truth-telling they’re getting about climate change.
We can shout at Wired because they believed the Feds and the U.N. But really, we should shout at them because they’ve just printed something absurd. They’ve not done the necessary checking. Falling agricultural productivity is so weird that it requires very high levels of proof. But Wired runs with it because it’ll scare Gen Z. No wonder they’re scared when those tellers of truth to power are repeating the lies.