September 30, 2019
Are Young People Our Best Hope?
You probably recognize the young lady in this photo. Recently, Greta Thunberg addressed world leaders at a climate conference at the United Nations. That would be noteworthy for anyone; at age 16 it is breathtaking.
Her recognition and power to motivate others has grown almost faster than someone can track. Harnessing the power of social media and the building awareness of the mess we are in, she has started a tsunami of attention to a problem that threatens our very existence: climate change.
Unafraid, and mature beyond her years, she shamed her elders at the U.N. In a speech that is worth watching on YouTube she asked the audience of decision makers, "how dare you" ruin the environment that they are leaving for young people. How "dare they" allow money and politics to remain more important than the survival of large chunks of the human and animal population.
Soon after her speech, the president of the United States mocked her on Twitter. Again, emphasizing her intelligence and passion, she responded to his slur by making part of it her Twitter profile. A commentator on Fox News called her "mentally ill." That statement triggered an apology from the network and a promise to avoid that person in the future.
At this point, to "not believe" in climate change is about as head-in-the-sand realistic as continuing to claim the earth is flat or the moon landing was a fake. Saying something equally as silly as the climate is always changing is just as bad. Humans are making that natural cycle much, much more severe and damaging our only home. Don't even get me started on "climate change is a hoax started by China."
Unfortunately, refusing to admit the dire nature of the problem and continuing to claim that jobs and politics are more important than the planet that allows for those jobs and lifestyle, too many adults have turned their collective backs on their children, their children's children, and all future generations of both human and animal life. I guess the hope is the problem is not as severe as it is, or that someone, the mythical "they," will find and implement a solution just before we foul our own nest to the point of no return.
I mean, really, what the heck does a "good job" matter if big parts of the world are unlivable, the water undrinkable, the weather too destructive, and societies in turmoil? Who do these people think are going to buy whatever is being produced? How do they think a normal marketplace will even function on a toxic plant? Isn't the threat to our food supply and clean water availability, cities disappearing under a relentless rising sea, and millions upon millions of people forced to wander the earth trying to find a place to survive a bit more important than a new smartphone?
And, speaking directly to the whole premise of this blog for the past 9+ years, who cares how satisfying a retirement is if the environment and future is at ultimate risk? Our day-to-day concerns will become so trivial compared to the destruction of large portions of our planet...the very air we breathe and water we drink.
My generation and the one that came before it are responsible. We have only our selfishness and lack of will power to blame. Our "leaders" have fiddled while Rome (and the rain forests) burn, the seas rise, the air becomes fowl, and the weather becomes increasingly destructive and unpredictable.
I am pining my hopes on the people represented by Ms. Thunberg and every one of the millions who are marching, protesting, and taking concrete steps to save their lives and their planet from our blindness.
Are young people our hope? Can motivated people of any age learn from their example and finally say, "enough is enough? We will not take your destructive, selfish harm to our lives any more?" Will we wake up to the end-of-the-pier seriousness of our situation before we all walk off the end?
For the sake of my children, precious grandchildren, and everyone else's families everywhere in the world, I can only hope so.