A new kids book about global warming was written to encourage them to lobby their parents to be more conservation-minded, according to its author. But that, another children’s book publisher says, is no more or less than manipulation.
The new Scholastic book is called “The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming,” and is by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon.
“Kids are the most optimistic human beings – they only see the future ahead of them and it’s bright. Kids also are the number one influence on their parents, so if you want to reach the parents, go to the kids.”
Gordon agreed in the interview, which said: “‘At times the adult world is getting burnt out’ coping with existing crises and forecasts for disaster. But ‘children’s concern is for their adult life – they don’t have the cynicism adults have.’ Gordon foresees children reading the guide in eco-clubs and after-school programs, using it as a basis for classroom projects and fund-raisers, and checking its advice on green habits.”
David, the producer for Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” about global warming, and Gordon “are suggesting that since presenting logical arguments to adults is too difficult, it’s best to manipulate children with a book they encounter in their classrooms and after-school programs. In other words, bypass parental control and instead use kids to guilt-trip their moms and dads,” wrote Eric Jackson, of World Ahead Media, Inc., which soon is publishing its own children’s book on global warming: “The Sky’s Not Falling: Why It’s OK to Chill about Global Warming.”
Jackson said on a blog he maintains he’d seen a preview copy of the David book, scheduled to be released in a few weeks, “and it’s heavy-handed.”
“It states that global warming is undeniably caused by industrial activities, and it shows pictures of little animals like the golden toad that it claims have been made extinct by climate change. What should kids do? Nag your parents to buy a hybrid,” Jackson said.
He said his company’s publication will steer clear of such “fear-mongering” and also will be marketed to parents.
“Unlike Scholastic, we won’t aim our sales and marketing energy at kids, but rather take our message to their parents,” he said.
Scholastic had two different officials return WND’s request for a comment, but neither would comment. An e-mail inquiry generated this statement from Scholastic:
“Scholastic’s goal in publishing The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming (September 2007), by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon, is to provide young readers with an informative and engaging book that explains global warming and to offer simple ways that kids can participate in protecting the environment in their everyday lives.”
But Jackson said while he would hope a general “human decency” would prevent marketing such products to children with the intent of reaching their parents, he isn’t surprised that it is happening.
“That they’d be willing to publish such a book in the first place speaks of their willingness to put profit over propriety,” he told WND.
He said the company’s materials and ads clearly are directed at children, who may then demand of their parents answers to questions about purchasing specialty hybrid vehicles, high-priced low-energy-consumption appliances and the like.
“We’re all agreed we should make children aware you turn the lights out when you leave the room, but this goes a lot further,” Jackson said. “These are tips that will cost a family a lot of money.”
“What really upsets me is this book is written in such a way that not only does it directly link actions such as driving around and to and from schools with threatening all sorts of species on the planet, it makes it very clear unless you change your ways that you’re directly responsible for damaging the earth,” he said.
On his blog, he started out with the headline: “Scholastic author: Manipulate kids on global warming to influence parents,” and said, “Since it can be difficult to sell liberal beliefs to adults, children should be manipulated in an effort to influence their parents. Or so states Laurie David, the liberal activist and co-author of Scholastic’s forthcoming global warming book for kids.”
But Jackson noted that the newest research references available include “Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years” by physicist Fred Singer and economist Dennis Avery and “The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change” by physicist Henrik Svensmark and former BBC science writer Nigel Calder, which is due out soon.
“‘Unstoppable Global Warming’ documents the reality of a moderate, natural, 1,500-year climate cycle on the earth. ‘The Chilling Stars’ explains the why and how,” he said.
Jackson, a former Silicon Valley businessman, is president of World Ahead Media, the West Coast’s leading publisher of “conservative and free market titles.”
He’s the author of the award-winning book “The PayPal Wars” and previously ran the marketing at Paypal. World Ahead also is the exclusive publisher of WND Books.
Jackson said it’s disturbing that publishers are marketing politically oriented children’s book “directly at kids.”
He cited a panelist from Random House who boasted recently of using “cause marketing” to “lure kids into wanting to purchase their books.”
“Cause marketing, as the panelist put it, is basically telling kids that what this book advocates will make you feel good and important, so you need to get your parent to purchase it for you,” he said.
Another columnist, David Frum of Canada’s National Post, also raised the issue of the global warming hypocrisy of “the celebrity environmentalist.”
“Remember Ted Haggard? The Colorado preacher who championed traditional marriage – and was then caught buying sex-enhancing drugs from a gay prostitute? You’ve also probably heard a great deal about David Vitter, the socially conservative U.S. senator from Louisiana whose name showed up on a Washington, D.C. escort service’s client list? It seems almost an iron law: Sexual moralists get hoisted by their own petard,” he wrote.
“Of all today’s fashionable causes, the environment is the very most fashionable of them all,” he said. “Laurie David reviles SUV owners as ‘terrorist enablers.’ She has paid for television commercials demanding higher mileage standards for cars and trucks.”
“Her message: ‘There’s something that we can all do about it.’ In her many media interviews, Laurie David details her own contributions to the cause: She uses only recycled paper products and she has made her two children take shorter showers,” Frum comtinued.
But he noted that she has a new 25,000-square-foot home on the East Coast.
“That’s a bigger house even than her friend Al Gore’s. Gore’s Tennessee house uses 20 times as much energy as the national average. And he only owns one house,” Frum said.
“You may wonder: How does a Los Angeles resident like Mrs. David travel between her west coast home and her new east coast summer place? Answer: She charters a Gulfstream jet. Environmental journalist Gregg Easterbrook calculates that a midsized Gulfstream G200 burns as much fuel on one transcontinental flight as a Hummer monster SUV consumes in an entire year. Easterbrook sourly comments: ‘But then, conservation is what other people should do.'”
In the Publishers Weekly interview, David described the book as “graphically exciting, hip and young, and it gives kids a ton of information on every page without kids realizing they’re getting the information.”
Senior book editor Lisa Sandell also noted that “kids can often be the arbiters of change. … They can come back to their parents and ask, ‘Why don’t you have an EnergyStar appliance?'”
World Ahead Media already publishes books such as “Help! Mom! Hollywood’s in my Hamper.”
“An Inconvenient Truth” won the Oscar for the best documentary feature.