When I first saw Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist, my first thought was she was just what the world needs: another scold telling us everything we’re doing wrong and shaming us and trying to make us feel guilty for doing it.
What did she really do in her speech at the United Nations but scold the world for not doing more about climate change? She also tried to lay guilt trips on everyone by saying they were ruining the future for their children.
Of course, you can’t criticize her because she’s a child, and you don’t want grown-ups, especially grown-up men, picking on a child.
I’ve heard her praised for “speaking truth to power.” One story I read said her critics are all privileged white males who owe their privilege to the pollution she’s protesting. She’s even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
It’s hard to know what it is she wants us to do. She and the other “climate strike” activists remind me of Al Capp’s student protest group in his comic strip, “Lil’ Abner.” A parody of student groups from the late 1960s, they were called Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything (SWINE). They were mad about things, but they had no understanding of what they were protesting or what to do about them.
I see that in many of the climate change activists. They’re angry and protest, but they offer no real solutions. They seem to want to roll back civilization to a time before fossil fuels came into use. They also want to end capitalism, and blame it for nearly all environmental and social ills.
What they don’t see is that Western nations like the United States that have democratic structures and capitalist economies have actually done a better job of cleaning up their mess than socialist countries. Capitalism and democracy by nature respond to the public will. If the public wants cars that are cleaner, safer and use less fuel, a good capitalist will respond. It the public wants them to clean up their mess (even if it’s through legal measures like environmental laws), a good capitalist will respond because it’s good for business.
I would love to see Thunberg go to a dictatorship like China and spread her message there. Did you know the Chinese now lead the world in carbon emissions? Beijing’s air makes Los Angeles look clean. So much for socialist governments being more compassionate and caring.
I know many people are cynical of environmentalism because so many things they’ve been told turned out to be wrong. As an example, when I was a teenager, wood stoves were the environmental thing. It was “split wood, not atoms.”
Now, wood stoves and fireplaces are seen as major sources of pollution in urban areas. Cutting wood for stoves and fireplaces is considered a major cause of deforestation in the world.
How about corn ethanol? We were told we could raise our own fuel and become less reliant on foreign sources of oil.
It turned out it took more energy to create corn ethanol that the energy it produced. It also threw world grain markets into turmoil because so much of the world is dependent on corn for food and animal feed. It also led to some very costly government subsidies for agribusiness that serve no real purpose except to prop up the ethanol industry.
Cleaning up the environment is not a simple issue. We need straight talk and honest ideas on what to do. Most people want to do the right thing, but they don’t know what it is and are skeptical because they’ve been lied to so often.
What we don’t need is a scolding child trying to make us all feel guilty. The people who are really causing the problems will just ignore her anyway.
Greta, take some time to grow up. You’re way too young to be so angry.