A culture of fear creates an impression of danger surrounding the object of a potential policy change. Whether the danger is real or imagined is irrelevant; the fear is as powerful in either case. Once the fear is set in motion regarding its object (global warming or school bullying), the fear can be leveraged into other questions which are essentially unrelated to the original object. Fear, being irrational, is capable of being exploited in this way, despite the lack of any logical relation between the original fear and additional policy questions which are linked to it once the policy-making behavior becomes fear-based.
We have seen, for example, the enactment of taxes and regulations, with vague references to global warming offered as justifications. Yet taken on their own terms, many of these have nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions at all, but were moved through the legislative process in a general atmosphere of panic. Political fear grows best in an atmosphere of ambiguity, making specific references elusive: hence, when data didn't support "global warming," the phrase became "global climate change," and when the evidence for such was found wanting, the wording changed to "climactic instability," and most recently "climate disruption."
Fear, as an emotion, is essentially illogical, and avoids direct engagement with empirical or rational study. Hence, even the scientists called forth as "expert witnesses" are coached to give, not quantifiable and observable evidence, but rather anecdotes and dark forebodings.
The political manipulation of fear is troublesome in a democracy, especially when one considers that the foundation of American democracy is education and the capability for ration engagement. A culture of fear undermines the historic social and political purposes of schools. Who benefits as the culture of fear takes root in schools? We can answer that question by asking who promotes fear in schools?
After creating an ill-defined sense of panic, speeches include phrases like "we've got to do something" - to which only the most rational listeners will respond, "no, we don't." A deliberate calmness is the best antidote to urgency; on average, government taking no action is better than government taking action. That's why the United States Constitution is deliberately designed keep governmental decision-making a cumbersome procedure. It's a good thing to have an inefficient government.