Greta Thunberg

What is it about Greta Thunberg that makes people so angry?. How can a 16-year-old in plaits, who has dedicated herself to the not unreasonable cause of saving the planet, inspire such incandescent rage? Following  her recent speech to the UN, in which she excoriated world leaders for their lack of action, her critics were at it again. One commentator likened her to a figure in a Nazi propaganda poster; another referred to her as “mentally ill”. Of course, no one likes being made to feel bad about their life choices: it’s why we sneer at vegans and feel suspicious of people who don’t drink at parties. But mainly, her critics attack her because it’s far easier than discrediting her argument. 

Everything Thunberg says is true.  We have just 11 years to prevent irreversible climate change, yet the grown-ups are not treating this as an emergency. It has been left to a child to deliver the warning our leaders are too afraid to voice, which is that “it is impossible to fight climate change and continue to measure national success by the rate of growth”.  

We need to tackle climate change. But  how would people react if politicians imposed the radical changes she insists are necessary, halting economic growth? Some might willingly sacrifice their modern comforts, but persuading the majority, in the time available, will be a very hard task. In that respect, Thunberg’s “hellfire and damnation” language risks being unhelpful. It may “frighten or alienate more than it energises”. And lumping all politicians together as “useless and uncaring is wrong”: you can see why President Macron, whose attempt to hike fuel taxes helped trigger the gilets jaunes protests, is feeling sore about being told “How dare you?”. Like other liberal politicians, Macron thinks of himself as on the side of the angels.   But Thunberg isn’t having that: she knows “we tried” is not going to satisfy future generations. For her, it’s us and them – and until he adopts her cause in full, he’s one of them.  (Jennifer O’Connell, The Irish Times).

My comment:  Greta Thunberg can say these things, these absolutely correct things, because her personality is such that she has an urge to tell the unvarnished truth, and maybe doesn’t care about “offending” the thugs who attack her.  She will be remembered as a latter-day prophet.

The sea level has visibly risen year by year in the Florida keys, for instance. There have been several consecutive days when  the high tide has covered the nearby jetty completely.  The width of the beach has shrunk. The locals call this a “ King tide” and infer, or hope, that it is a just a short- term quirk of nature.  I very much doubt it.  But then my opinions are irrelevant – I will not be here to witness the end catastrophe.  We are talking to our neighbors about installing solar panels, but otherwise what am I doing about it? Aside from wringing my hands, but still flying.  And you?

One Comment

  1. The biggest impediment to meaningful action to tackle climate change in the West is not from outright climate-deniers and conspiracy theorists, but from conservatives who express their concerns about the environment, while proposing measures totally insufficient to deal with the problem. For instance, unlike Republicans, the British Conservative Party purports to accept the science of climate change. But they leave open the possibility of fracking, continue a 9-year fuel duty freeze, and have even approved the construction of a deep coal mine.

    Most of Thunberg’s opponents aren’t climate change deniers. Rather, they support an ‘environmentalism on easy mode.’ They spread the myth that we can avert climate disaster without significant changes to our economy and lifestyle. This simply isn’t possible. Climate scientists should be more vocal not only on the threat climate change poses to the plant, but on the radical policies needed to address it.

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