This will probably sound as blasphemy to some of you, but frankly, this is my view of Greta Thunberg; a prophet of doom and gloom with zilch scientific expertise in climate change and a flair for the dramatics (watch video here), and who has for whatever reason (I’m growing more sceptical every day) taken it upon herself to create a s***storm and get the rest of us in an apocalyptic frame of mind. Yes, climate change is happening, at a fast pace, but a child as a poster girl for environmental activism is nauseatingly deplorable to say the least.
Noble ideology is all fine and dandy, but unless we all revert to the lifestyle, we, as humans, ‘enjoyed’ some 200 years ago, way before the industrial revolution, including all its negative aspects (fatal disease, early death and the very high incidence of infant death comes to mind), it is sheer nigh impossible to fully heal the planet. Even if we manage this, a highly unlikely scenario, given that in our huge majority we are not about to revert to functioning by candlelight, no one, but no one is actually considering the human and social impact these changes would bring about… But let us explore a few examples in simplistic terms… What if we had to totally ban plastic in all its entirety? How will the lowest income strata of society cope with the jump in cost for their everyday basics? What are the costs in terms of livelihoods in finding other more sustainable alternatives?
And while we’re at it, let’s heavily tax flights, since aviation is one of the biggest perpetrators of climate change… But who will pay the price? Only you and I, whose only chance of ever broadening our horizons is thanks to the availability of cheap flights. However, availability or not, how many of us who have been banging this particular drum so deafeningly, who shudder at the very thought of using a plastic toothbrush, eating meat (which most are adamant that is the highest net contributor to global warming), or covering their leftovers with clingfilm, are truly committed that from now on we will only indulge in staycations? You know, like never leave the island ever again? Not that many I would think.
I’m sure that the bigwigs who attend the zillion climate change conferences around the world will still be able to afford to fly their private jets, taxes or not, and will inevitably continue using them. After all, they are very important people, whose opinions on these issues matter even if some of them head corporations whose carbon footprint could melt the ice cap all by themselves.
Which brings us squarely back to Greta. It was a very noble gesture by this 16-year-old to refuse a transatlantic flight to visit the United Nations in a bid to cut her carbon footprint, instead opting to travel by yacht. But see Greta, that’s the thing, in 2019 there is no such thing as 100% eco-friendly travelling, unless you’re actually Greta Thunberg with a host of minions at your beck and call, including the son of a princess, and thousands of dollars in endorsements at your disposal. Actually, Greta should have stuck to video-conferencing her rants to the UN assembly, though I’m not sure whether streamed drama has the same effect as a live performance! Erm… and has anyone any idea how Greta will return to Europe? The yacht is already back, courtesy of two crew members who have flown (oh the delicious irony!) to the U.S. to sail the Malizia II back across the Atlantic.
But back to our human transgressions… The earth’s population is and has been exploding for quite some time now and is hugely affecting the earth’s wellbeing, yet no one would think of enforcing a ‘one-child policy’, similar to that employed by China in the past. Heaven forbid, but that would be a sore infringement of human rights and no civilised country would even consider such a move, would they? And of course, this is the way it should be, but according to Greta’s doomsday tirades, where we’re tethering on the edge of an apocalypse, we might want to consider not a ‘one-child policy’, but a zero-child one. Now, how’s that for an idea!
There are a hundred million reasons as to why we need to do something and fast about this planet, but before we all indulge in hysterics let us all take a step back and consider the actual impact these changes would have on the earth’s population, not the one that will be inhabiting the earth in a hundred, two hundred or a thousand years but the one that’s living and breathing right now.
Yes, we owe our grandchildren a healthier planet, but we owe ourselves, our families and all the peoples of the globe, a good quality of life, where food, water and basic shelter are available for everyone, right NOW, even if this comes at a higher environmental cost! Having a greener planet, but one which does not provide at least an adequate standard of living, quite defies the purpose of life itself, a clear example of how we, as humans, are experts at missing the wood for the trees.
Oh, and before anyone comes up with the oft-repeated mantra that ‘at this rate there will be no planet’, let us be reminded that planet earth has suffered at least five ice ages and a multitude of natural disasters along its billion years of history, and this was way, way before anyone was driving their 4 x 4 or flying economy class to Ibiza! Yes, let’s all strive to genuinely, and not through hypocritical virtue-signalling do our bit for the planet, let’s do our level best to reduce our carbon footprint to a minimum, but in the meantime let’s all try to calm the f*** down!