Paul Andersen: Joan of Arc takes on climate change
We baby boomers have failed miserably to address climate change, so young people are taking up the slack. History will not be kind to us in denying a looming global crisis.
Out of the mouths of babes comes truth and wisdom, so youthful innocence has taken license to speak truth to power. Young people recognize the threats of climate change, and they know that adults are willing to gamble with those threats.
We should know better. Al Gore informed us in 2006 with “An Inconvenient Truth,” a title that rings true today when most Americans fecklessly succumb to personal conveniences and blithely violate their own morality.
Even in educated, enlightened Aspen there still exists a profitable market for unconscionable monster homes. Witness the fleet of private jets docked wing-to-wing at Sardy Field. WTF!? How can developers, builders and owners live with themselves?
The children of the world are coming to recognize the moral failure of their parents. The unlikely spokesperson for this movement is a 16-year-old Swedish girl who has all the markings of a modern Joan of Arc.
Greta Thunberg has, by her courage and conviction, inspired the European Union to dedicate billions of Euros to combat climate change, for which future generations will be grateful.
Such a vision is rare among social movements, most of which target existing populations of refugees, sex-trade workers, industrial laborers, victims of racism, veterans, the LGBT community and others.
Greta and her peers are advocating for children not yet born, the inheritors of today’s industrialized planet. This is a huge challenge — protecting the rights of the unborn who, if nothing is done, will face a world of diminishing ecological stability.
Greta and her growing cohort of children are calling for student strikes every Friday until meaningful action is taken on climate change. She is calling out internationally for students of the world to commit to this manner of protest.
Greta’s pleas have already reached European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who not only acknowledges her right to protest, but has effectively transformed her message into a meaningful pledge.
“In the next financial period from 2021 to 2027, every fourth euro spent within the EU budget will go towards action to mitigate climate change,” promised Juncker, who shared the podium with Greta at a recent conference in Brussels.
Juncker went a step further with a bald criticism of President Donald Trump: “Mr. Trump and his friends believe that climate change is something that has just been invented and it’s an ideological concept, but … something dangerous is already underway,” he said.
That “something dangerous” is denial of scientific evidence that, by the day, becomes more and more irrefutable. There are still many who remain ambivalent about climate change, downplaying Greta and her fellow students.
Greta states that history will reveal these stubborn naysayers as clinging to the Dark Ages of climate change denial by ignoring science, discounting a very real and dire future, and evading a necessary moral response.
According to news reports, more than 10,000 student protesters across Belgium last week skipped school in unity. Banners were displayed, saying “Stop Denying the Earth is Dying.”
Greta, in a clarion voice of reason and legitimate outrage, says that more and more young people around the world want politicians to heed scientists’ warnings. “Unite behind the science; that is our demand,” she told a plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee. “Talk to the scientists, listen to them.”
What began with Greta and a handful of her classmates has spread to students in Europe and Australia who are skipping classes to protest damage to the Earth’s climate. Who can fault the children for striving to protect their future and the future beyond?
Now that she has a voice, Greta took her protest to last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos and laid it out to the 1 percent, many of whom have capitalized financially by perpetrating degradations to the biosphere with a business-as-usual insouciance.
“Politicians’ failure to act would be the greatest failure of human history,” Greta intoned, “and they will be remembered as the greatest villains of all time.”
Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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