CBS Highlights 'Eco-Warrior' Kids Living 'Green Gospel'

“Don't know much about history, don't know much biology.”

Those famous lyrics from Sam Cooke's 1958 song, “Wonderful World,” never rang truer than today. American students continue to test far behind the highest performing nations in science and math, according to the American Institutes for Research. And many would be hard pressed to name the three branches of government or the authors of the Constitution. But they are learning their environmental dos and don'ts. And, as the Jan. 27th CBS “Evening News” showed, the best students have truly internalized their green indoctrination.

That broadcast dedicated over two and a half minutes to children determined to live a “green” lifestyle. The children in this segment don't just recycle or turn off the lights; they have convinced their parents to buy eco-friendly light bulbs, wash their clothes in cold water, and even get an “untraditional” Christmas tree they could replant in the backyard.

CBS Los Angeles correspondent Ben Tracy called it the “green gospel” – and it's an accurate term. The kids in the report have absorbed all the environmental pieties from a pop culture saturated with them. As Tracy noted and as CMI has documented, the preferred religion of secular society is everywhere: movies, TV, and even on girl scout badges.

And of course, it's in schools. Tracy said that The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education, an environmental education group, has increased the number of teachers it's training nationwide from 150 in 2006, to 1,000 teachers in 2009. He also mentioned that the CISE curriculum appears in close to 10,000 schools.

Frances Kretschmer of California not only joined her school's eco club but, according to Tracy's report, is so serious about the cause that it permeates even a traditionally silly and fun holiday for kids. Her 2008 Halloween costume was a “recycling bin,” and Tracy lamely remarked that she could “recycle” the costume next year. (It was Frances that convinced her parents to host the plantable unconventional Christmas tree.)

Jane and Annie Berry, who were also featured in the segment, “insist” that their mother keep their Pennsylvania home at a chilly 66 degrees. They would rather bundle up than turn up the heat. “We are going to be inheriting all the problems that have been facing, so we need to be dealing with those problems now,” one of the girls said. Her sister, who sneezed as she huddled beneath blankets during the segment, apparently needs to be dealing with her cold now.

And maybe her behavior. Discussing life with her true believers, their mom told CBS, “God forbid one of them walks in and sees me like, getting ready to put that in the trash. They'll scream at me.”

But apparently, humorless finger-wagging and self-righteous hectoring are virtues in the young. Neither Tracy nor “Evening News” host Katie Couric, who called the kids the future “custodians of the planet,” seemed to mind that these children have been indoctrinated by the eco-giants. Nor did they ask whether the parents of these girls might not be doing their kids any favors by letting themselves be bullied about light bulbs and plastic bottles.

One wonders when this will stop and kids can just enjoy being kids, instead of intrepid preachers of a planet-friendly lifestyle. Will it be before conscientious young environmentalists begin turning in their parents for not sorting their recycling?

Erin Brown is an intern at the Culture & Media Institute. Matt Philbin is CMI managing editor.