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A new website campaign designed by a British power company recruits children through games, badges and cartoons to enlist as “Climate Cops,” actively keeping records on their parents and neighbors for violations of “energy crimes” against the planet.
The “Climate Cops” website encourages children to investigate family and friends and “then build your ‘Climate Crime Case File’ and report back to your family to make sure they don’t commit those crimes again (or else)!” The site also warns children that they “may need to keep a watchful eye” to prevent future violations.
A link on the site for teachers to download free materials for building lesson plans indicates the website is targeting children from ages 7-11.
The so-called crimes children are to watch for are listed on a poster (visible at right) and range from leaving the tap running and failing to use energy-saving light bulbs to running the dryer on a sunny day and putting hot food in the refrigerator.
The website also encourages children to download a series of “Climate Crime Cards” (such as the one pictured below) in which enlisted “Climate Cops” can keep an ongoing record of their family’s violation of energy “crimes.”
Recruiting children to spy on and keep records of their parents’ infractions reminds some of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi youth program, only with an environmentalist bent. The author of the blog EU Referendum wrote: “In a system which has echoes of Hitler’s Deutsches Jungvolk movement … perhaps successful graduates can work up to becoming block wardens, then street and district ‘climate crime Fuehrers,’ building a network of spies and informers.”
Hitler’s youth program, which began in the 1920s and ended in 1945, enlisted children to be trained in the ideals of the Nazi party. Eventually folded into the German Sturmabteilung, also known as the SA or the “brownshirts,” the Hitler Youth were given authority over different regions to report and keep records on neighbors, especially Jewish neighbors, as part of Nazi Germany’s fear- and propaganda-based social control efforts.
A blogger at Watts Up With That? wrote, “I find this method of indoctrinating school children to normal everyday living being harmful to the earth with the ‘climate crime’ connotation as distasteful and wrong headed.”
“I have no problems with energy conservation, in fact I encourage it,” the blogger wrote, “But combining such advice with a ‘climate cop’ idea is the wrong way to get the message across. Can you imagine what sort of reaction the neighbors will have? … Will the result of this now be hiding your electric dryer behind false walls so the kids and neighbors don’t see it?”
The “Climate Cops” website was created by the British power company npower, which has received recognition for investing in community causes through partnerships with youth sports programs, cancer victim support charities and an environmental group called The National Trust.
The website targets children with flashy graphics and cartoon characters. The site’s opening video shows cartoon depictions of hurricanes and floods, stating, “Climate change is threatening our world. The more energy we waste the worse it gets. It’s time to fight back.”
Children who visit the site can then play games, including one game in which “Climate Cops” chase down a gas-guzzling SUV that discharges incandescent light bulbs to slow them and another in which children zap as many energy wasters as they can find before a poor polar bear’s iceberg melts.
Those who complete the site’s three games receive code numbers that unlock a codeword, enabling visitors to “join the elite cadets and train to become a Climate Cop.” The codeword then unlocks a download, where successful “cadets” can print out a “Climate Cop ID”.