January 13, 2020

Time Magazine's Person Of The Year

Jesus's mother was probably 13 when she gave birth. Joan of Arc started her battles against English oppressors at the age of 13. She was 19 when she was burned at the stake. A little less dramatic, Bobby Fischer was crowned as a chess Grandmaster at 15. Louis Braille developed a language for the blind when only 15 years old. At 18, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, a literacy classic.

History has plenty of examples of young people, many not out of their teen years, having major impacts on history. I think sometimes age is an advantage; younger people aren't old enough to know they can't accomplish a task. So, they push forward and work miracles.


Last month Time Magazine named Greta Thunberg as their Person of The Year. She has earned her this honor for her ability to galvanize others in the battle to save our planet from the most horrific consequences of climate change. 

Her relentless calling out of her elders for being too timid, too worried about their pocketbooks, or unable to admit reality has inspired people of all ages, in all corners of the globe, to raise their voices in protest.

Last September I wrote a post that suggests young people may be our best hope for the future. Ms. Thunberg was the focus of that post after her blistering speech to the people most able to take serious action, but unwilling to do so.

Since that speech she has traveled to several meetings and conferences on both sides of the Atlantic. True to her value in doing as little harm as possible to the earth, she has not flown on these trips, even though doing so would save countless days. Instead, choosing the method that creates the least carbon damage, she has taken sailing ships, at least one with solar panels to power the equipment on board.

At home in Sweden, she has convinced her parents to stop air travel and give up meat. She has led strikes in front of the Swedish Parliament and at countless schools, all to force others to pay attention to what lies straight ahead of us.

Of course, some of the targets of her ire have struck back, figuring a 16 year old girl will probably wilt under their verbal assaults. Instead, she and the people she inspires seem to be getting stronger, more vocal, and more organized. One "leader" said she needed to work on her anger management problem. Considering the source, that's a rich one.

I am not going to conclude with a list of things you could so in this ultimate battle to protect our home. By now, you know the steps you can and should take to do what you can, no matter how small.

The Greta story reminds me of a John Lennon song from my student days, "Power To The People. " One person begins a dialogue, which becomes a discussion, which evolves into a large conversation, which develops into a movement, that has the potential to force change.

Whatever your feeling about her or even the issue she is so passionate about,  Ms. Thunberg has proven, once again, the power of a dedicated individual to force others to pay attention and decide what to do. 

And, I find that remarkably empowering and hopeful.


42 comments:

  1. I'm always amazed at how many young people today are doing remarkable things like Greta is doing and David Hogg, the kid from Florida who organized others to get assault weapons off the streets. Other kids are raising money for do-good causes at an age when I was still playing with dolls. They give me hope for the future.

    But it also shocks me when they face such harsh backlash from adults. I occasionally go to a political debate site and the way too many of the people there go after Greta and David Hogg makes me ashamed to be from the same generation as them. You don't have to agree with everything the social activist kids are saying or trying to do but you can at least show them respect. Debate their ideas, not attack them using the example set by our current administration. When Trump put out the tweet with his face superimposed over Greta's on a Times magazine cover I couldn't believe his pettiness but when Former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka called Greta 'thunder thighs' I was actually shocked. I keep trying to remember what it was like back near the end of the Vietnam War when adults and kids were often pitted against each other. Was it this nasty? This petty and personal?

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    1. I have no ill feelings towards these children who are adventuring into activism. I do disagree with your comments of "harsh backlash" though. Whether I agree or disagree with the stance these children are taking is not important. What is important is that these children have decided to play in the adult world, and as such, they are subject to all the same criticism that comes from taking extreme stances no matter what your beliefs may be. I do conceded that these children may not be equipped emotionally yet to deal with all the various "attacks" the adult world can and will make on the agenda being proposed by children, but if they want to play in the big leagues, then they need to quickly grow their emotional skills to navigate in adult land. I feel we do them a dis-service by proposing to treat them as children in this case. They are the ones who feel strongly enough about their causes to travel the globe and be activist versus going to school, planning their weekend, playing sports, etc and living the life of a teenager. Throughout history we have had children take on adult roles out of necessity. And when they did, they are treated as adults even though their age in today's society has them categorized as children. If these children wish to exist as adults and be activist for such hot button topics, then more power to them. I respect them for that decision but with it comes the adult responsibilities. Those of us in society who want to cuddle these activists are not helping them learn and grow as to what can be expected and how to handle being an activist. They will find support from people who agree with their agenda and will face harsh backlash from those who do not. No different from any other activist in society. It's not aimed at them because they are children. The backlash is aimed at them because there is a significant number of people in the general population who do not agree with their stance.

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    2. Dan, calling ANYONE---adult or child---thunder thighs or gay is not an acceptable way to debate an issue as important as climate change or sensible gun control. It does, however, speaks volumes about the person slinging the insults and it says they don't know the real issues well enough to counter punch with actual facts. Making them the butt of jokes only makes them stronger and more determined.

      These kids are taking on adult roles out of necessity AS THEY SEE IT. Those of us who are entering the last few decades of our lives might not see it that way, but we won't be around to live in the world they will have to live in. They have a right to be concerned about the world they are inheriting. It's not "cuddling" them to expect those who oppose them to get out of the mud and fight with facts.

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    3. The youthful activists will live in the world we leave them for the next 60 years or so...many decades after the "adults" are gone. Their actions are legitimate responses to the inaction or harmless neglect of their elders, as they see it. They have every right to protest and state their case, even if a significant group disagrees.

      Dan, it seems as though you are saying these young people need to put on their "big boy pants" to play in this league. Isn't it a sad state of affairs that someone who cares passionately about something (anything) is told that if they want to become involved citizens of the world they have to endure completely off target personal insults and put downs, name-calling, and fat-shaming? As should be obvious by now, that type of personal attack isn't relegated to young people; attacking someone personally instead of on the issues is the new norm.

      No wonder so many younger people have lost faith with the "adults" in the room because a civil debate on the issues is not possible: name-calling and conspiracy theories are. David Hogg was actually accused by some as being a hired actor, not a student who watched his classmates gunned down at Parkland. Others found it hilarious and on target to make fun of his last name.

      I don't see cuddling (or coddling) of youthful activists. I see hate and dismissal thrown their way by the people who should know better and be ashamed of themselves for how they react. What lessons are we teaching our children about how the world works if we shame them instead of encouraging them to participate?

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    4. I do not personally support name calling or rude behavior but what I support and what is reality is the only thing I am stating. If these young people want to have a snowball's chance in Hades of being heard, respected, and to actually make an impact, then they are going to have to learn to "deal with" personal attacks and manage through them. Our generation (boomers and gen-X) are some of the key people who raised this current and next generation to be so sensitive to what people say about them. We gave everyone participation trophies and did not do a good job in preparing these people for the real world where bullying, power control, and competition with winners and losers is reality and where so called safe spaces do not exist. They need to learn the old adage of "sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me". If someone were to physically attack these people, then I would state prosecute to the full extent of the law the perpetrators. In my opinion, we as a society in the USA have become way too sensitive to the words being used in comments which is forcing us to polarize and not have the crucial conversations that can really affect change.

      Bob, thank you for this forum as I feel it is really beneficial to have discussions like this so we can virtually discuss topics like this. I hope none of you out there read my comments as thoughts as nothing but respectful as that is my intent.

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    5. So far, every response I have read from Ms Thunberg or Mr. Hogg, as examples, has been measured and dealing with the issues. They have not responded to name calling or slander against their person or their cause. I would say they have been the adults in the room in terms of how they have handled to publicity and responded to the blowback.

      I am posting things like this now to encourage thoughtful discussion and an opportunity for readers to state a position, and maybe even modify what they think based on what other readers say. I take your comments in exactly that context, Dan. You and I don't always agree, but we show each other the courtesy that is in short supply today. Your addition to these pages is a positive and encouraged.

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  2. Really, we should give up air travel and all of us just sail on solar powered sailboats that each hold how many people? It's these kind of statements that make the speaker lose credibility.

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    1. I disagree. In Great's case she is living as true to her principles as she can. She had the opportunity to replace plane flights with sailing. At no time has she suggested we all jump in solar powered boats. Rather, she is indicating there are options that may or not not fit a particular situation, but, she made certain choices to stay true to herself.

      Subjects like this don't lend themselves to black and white/either-or choices. She made one; you are just as free to make another.

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    2. I think you are missing the point. I applaud her views and motives, but one cannot offer up solutions that only a tiny few can follow. It's a grand gesture to "sail" across the Atlantic but if we all followed that concept businesses would be hugely impacted, tourism would die and none of us would ever see out of state friends and family.

      Yes, she has important things to say, but the world is not that black and white.

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    3. I understand what you're saying, Anne. But, I believe she choose this option because it fit her very personal commitment level. I am quite sure she wasn't expecting others to follow this precise example. Yes, if everyone did what she did the impact on business (as well as how crowded the oceans would be) would be unacceptable.

      We should look at what she did as something consistent with her beliefs. She didn't make a big deal of her choices. She certainly didn't offer them up as solutions. News reporters did all that when they asked why she traveled this way and found an interesting angle to the story.

      A gourmet cook would only use the very best cookware and ingredients, but realize that most of us are happy with microwaved vegetables and a 10 year old saucepan. Just because we don't follow in the cook's footsteps doesn't make that choice any more or less correct than mine, for example.

      Like you, I'd get my back up if someone said his or her answer was the only answer. In this case, that is not what happened.

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  3. I do not share all of her views, but agree with enough of them to applaud her efforts. However, if one decides to go against powerful people they will attacked and often viciously no matter what their age. I remember in the '60s civil rights activists being killed and children having police dogs set on them, so violence and personal attacks on activists is not new and does not make it right, but unfortunately, those who disagree with them often will use whatever methods they believe necessary to maintain their power, control and/or ideology.

    While there may be a significant number of people in the general population who do not agree, it seems that a good number of scientists, who might be well-informed on environmental issues, throughout the world, seem to think that there is a problem and we should be working to solve it.

    She has not had that level of hatred or violence leveled against her that past activists have had to endure - as yet and I hope that she does not, but as the old guard and ideologies fade their last gasps could lead to worse things happening than petty name-calling.

    It will be a sad commentary if that happens and it will not stop the rising sea levels and seemingly ever more powerful storms that seem be plaguing all of us.

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    1. Humans tend to respond to change, fear of the unfamiliar, or something out of our comfort zone with attacks, mostly verbal but not always. With the fight or flight choice, the former is the usual one picked.

      I took part in Vietnam War protests in the late 1960s. A few years later LBJ pulled us out after admitting it was as doomed effort. How much of his decision was caused by the millions of Americans of all ages who protested our involvement there, I don't know. But, in that specific case I would argue the activism of young people was an important stimulus for the eventual reversal of American involvement.

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  4. I give Greta great credit for waking so many folks up. She has turned climate change into an important discussion. I can only imagine what she will be like as an adult. Most likely a politician, and she'll be a good one. Compared to the fool that's 'leading' this country, she is a genius!
    b

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    1. She is off to a good start. I hope that she continues to use her stage to accomplish positive change while not becoming too bitter or cynical over her treatment.

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  5. A couple of thoughts:

    1. Idealistic avatars are elevated by the media to the extent that their message aligns with the dominant narrative, and ridiculed or attacked on the same basis by those who disagree with that narrative. For example, imagine if Ms. Thunberg's passion was for the wide deployment of safe, small-scale, fourth-generation nuclear technology as a way to provide abundant energy for all while weaning nations off fossil fuels. Or if she campaigned against veganism because monoculture destroys the soil's regenerative capacity and kills untold numbers of small animals. Would she be admired as a brave activist -- or dismissed as a gullible adolescent? It depends on whose ox is being gored, doesn't it?

    2. Without a lot of fanfare, the U.S. (emissions up 0.4% since 1990) has lowered its carbon emissions more than the Paris Accords called for, largely due to natural gas replacing coal. We've also seen a dramatic increase in renewable energy production. In contrast, coal usage and carbon emissions continue to explode in China (up 350% since 1990) and India (up 305%). Why isn't Ms. Thunberg confronting/shaming them instead? The 80/20 Rule suggests that would be a far better (though less media-friendly) use of her time and rhetorical gifts.

    I'm not making a political point as much as pointing out that our biases always seek confirmation, and that we periodically venerate preachers who chastise our sinfulness.

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    1. China and India have their own versions of young climate activities. Grata is one of 15 child activists from around the world who signed the UN complaint against five countries about their reckless disregard for the climate. She's the best known but hardly stands alone. The reason Greta targeted the U.S. is because of Trump's withdrawing from the Paris Accords and for rolling back so many of our EPA laws that protect our water and air. we have lowered our carbon emissions because of those laws and because so many states and big energy companies are making it a priority.

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    2. Lydgate, I believe you have nailed the crux of these issues exactly. One side that represents at most half (and likely less) of the country has tried, with the help of the vast majority of the media outlets, to consistently push for a particular agenda or agendas for decades now. Anyone or anything that deviates from those narratives is to be punished, villified, and belittled by that one side as causing untold harm to the world and its populations. Even when their narratives are exposed as false they just move onto the next narrative of the week, and continue their (in many cases) hate-filled speech. It does not make them morally superior in any way, shape or form regardless of how much they might believe it, or the media supports them for it. And quite frankly it causes anyone who does not agree with them completely to be turned off from listening to whatever they are espousing, such as this girl from Norway or whatever country she sails from, negating anything positive they may have to say.

      I recently saw a political cartoon that had a speaker saying "who wants to tackle the issue of global warming"? The characters in the audience are all the faces of Greta, liberal politicians, and others. Of course their hands all shoot up. The next panel has the speaker asking "who wants to go over to China and India and tell them to stop polluting the planet"? That same audience is now looking at the floor, counting ceiling tiles, anything but raising their hands. The United States is an easy whipping boy for everyone around the world on any and all issues since we have so many people that are guilt-ridden for our success, and also since the US tends to be more polite when it comes to bending over for the abuse. Hence the Gretas of the world find it easy to point the finger at the big boy in the room and conveniently ignore all the other, harder to preach to offenders.

      This is a very, very difficult situation in that it largely reflects the country as a whole on most issues, showing how split the country is. One side screaming at the other has gotten us exactly nowhere for the last four years, and will continue to divide us even more going forward. The sooner people realize that we need a normal dialogue and less pontificating the better off we will all be.

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    3. Lydgate, I don't think it matter what cause someone like Ms. Thunberg champions. Those standing to lose economically or politically will attack. Actually, you have identified important issues that each need their own Thunberg-supporter. She picked one that specifically resonates with her. The other things you list are worthy of attention, too.

      Chuck, does Fox News fit your description? They have vilified and belittled those who don't agree with their political point of view for years. Having some of their narratives exposed as false, misleading, debunked...pick a word....doesn't stop them for moving onto the next arrow in their quiver. That doesn't make MSNBC right, it makes the two sides equal in their lack of honest perspective.

      Going to China? I am pretty sure anyone with a cause that doesn't fit the Chinese government narrative would not get a visa. While publicizing what they are doing around the world is important, with a communist government the changes will have to be initiated internally.

      India has stated publicly that they don't care. In fact, they are increasing the burning of coal. Until their citizens get tired of breathing dirty air or being flooded out every monsoon season, that will not change.

      Wouldn't it make more sense to focus on societies that can change, will respond to citizen action, and have an incentive to do something? Sure, the other guys are bad guys, but to point the finger while refusing to accept responsibility for fouling one's own nest is disingenuous and comes with no moral power. My neighbor's kids are brats; I worry about what I can do to make sure my grandkids are not and ignore the neighbor's family.

      Chuck, I can always count on you to present your case without vitriol and with a trail of logic. Your comments are always welcome because they enrich our exchanges.

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    4. I have yet to find a US based media outlet that is mass consumed (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News) that is middle of the road. CNN used to be but they were forced to take a side politically in order to garner more viewership which they are failing miserably at according to ratings. Fox News has the highest ratings of all the cable/over the air news stations likely because they have been partisan from day one, MSNBC is a far second. I recommend everyone read/watch opposing sides of the news reporting world in the US to try to find tidbits of facts versus all the speculation and opinion that is published as fact. For a summary of media bias, I suggest you visit allsides.com. I find it to be a helpful site in navigating today's partisan world. Also, I remind myself daily that all these news outlets exist not for journalism but to make profit for their shareholders. Political discourse, blood, hatred, etc all drive ratings which directly drives revenue. Follow the money trail.

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    5. Appreciate your comments as always, Bob. Regarding your question on Fox - I don't listen to them for the same reason I don't listen to CNN, namely the highly partisan nature of their broadcasts. I will occasionally try to listen to a highly liberal network but the level of hate directed at a duly elected President of the United States is palpable. I can only take so much of that before I turn it off, much like I tune out so many screeching mouthpieces from both parties.

      An example of why so many tune out speakers from the liberal side was tonight. Alec Baldwin came out rambling about how anyone who voted for Trump in 2016 has directly caused the utter downfall of this country. So we are back to calling peop!e who choose the President for any number of reasons over an alternative basically destroyers of this country??? How did calling conservatives "Deplorables" in 2016 work for Clinton? The same will happen in 2020 if the Left wants to play that card, rather than discuss substantive issues.

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    6. The Administration calling Democrats lovers of terrorism and retweeting doctored photos of Pelosi and Schumer in Muslim clothing certainly doesn't help lower the rhetoric. But, neither does CNN abandoning the middle, a necessary business decision since we have broken into two camps. There is no middle anymore to support a working business model, I'm afraid.

      I have found the BBC to be pretty much straight down the middle in its reporting of U.S. and world news. Dan's suggestion of allsides.com sounds interesting. I took a look and it might prove to be a go-to site. Too early to vouch for it but I like their breaking of news into left, center, and right.

      And the discussion continues.

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  6. I agree with some of what she says and no "civilized" person resorts to name calling of either adults or children. But I don't think children (even when more than willing) should be used to "front" a political movement. I don't think she is in a situation that is healthy for her. And I don't think using her is good for the climate discussion.

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    1. Isn't she forcing others to pay attention? She may be used by some to further their agenda. But, I'd hate to live in a world where my passion for something can't be expressed because someone might use what I say for the wrong reasons. Silence only perpetuates a problem, never solves it.

      That said, if I were her parents I'd be both proud of and scared for her. She can do a lot of good, but she can be an attractive target for people who have less impulse control.

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  7. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that she is taking so much flak, but it is a bit disingenuous to see people intimating she is controlled and promoted by the "evil media". I suppose if Fox News had blessed her, she would be more palatable. It's as though people think the youth have no ability to think for themselves. And, while I think it's unlikely she will be able to stop people from air travel or eating meat on a worldwide level any time soon, you have to admire her for sailing over to make a point. I admire her tenacity and convictions.

    The fact that this administration continues to rollback EPA regulations makes them a worthy target of anyone who values the air and water we need to live. We can't even get Congress to pass a law regulating PFAS in our drinking water. We are going to pollute ourselves right off Planet Earth and the youth will bear the brunt along the way. They should speak up and if media attention helps get that message across, more power to them.

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    1. I can only say Amen to your comment. Th day we decide young people have nothing to add to our discussions is the day the gig is up. Someone doesn't suddenly become believable and smart due to their age. Look at Washington for proof.

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    2. I feel it is important to take a serious look at any policy we have in place to understand if it is really effective, cost wise and impact together. We all should employ critical thinking skills and refrain from taking what politicians and the media state as being factual. Some regulations when created made a huge positive impact, but those are many times no longer needed or need revisions to better align with today's reality and what is needed for the future. I see nothing wrong with changing regulations so long as they have some sort of positive impact. And that positive impact can be a financial one as well. There are pros and cons to every regulation and policy, and we should not be looking at only one or two criteria when creating or changing a policy.

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  8. "FaceBook Glitch Reveals That Greta Thunberg's Father Is Actually Posting on "Greta Thunberg's" FaceBook Page"

    Phony is as phony does. You've all been scammed. I expect my fellow boomers to be less gullible.

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    1. And Hillary is running a child porno ring out of a pizza parlor in Chicago. Give it a rest.

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  9. "Experts" have been telling us that Glacier National Park would be ice-free for over 70 years. In 1923, they predicted that it would be by 1948. In 1952, they made the same prediction for 2002. In 2009, they said by 2020. Now, they're removing the "gone by 2020" signs. https://t.co/wG0p3W73RV

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    1. Boy, you can't trust those "experts." I am pretty sure the rising sea levels, increased global temperatures, melting polar caps, and more severe storms are rather dependable signs that the climate is changing. But, hey, I'm no expert.

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  10. What I just don't understand is why it seems that recognizing a change in the climate is being so vehemently vilified and admitting that something is changing is being fought tooth and nail. Is it the same mindset that said cigarettes don't cause cancer well after it was proven otherwise? Is it the absolute need to deny any change because that means we are not in as much control as we thought we were? Are we so set in our ways that having to make changes in how we treat the environment is an evil to be fought to the death (or flood)?

    Since there have been changes in the climate on earth dating back 13 billion years why is this time almost like cursing God or sleeping with the devil to recognize it?

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  11. Wow, what you offered as an observation about the passion and power of youth, and in particular the impact of one person (of any age) voicing that passion, sparked a lot of comments on the climate issue and the media and, inevitably, politics. Your list of young people making an impact throughout history was not specific to a single issue, yet the climate issue (and the others) became a primary topic in the comments. That is NOT a criticism; I'm simply intrigued by the phenomenon.

    Young people like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousefzai and Emma Gonzalez, to name a few, have stepped out of the usual teen life concerns to address issues that matter to their generation and to the future. Whether we agree with them or not, we can acknowledge their courage to stand up and to stand out. Can't we? I wonder if there is any common ground to be found anymore.

    PS--Loved your comment about your neighbors kids and your own grandkids. Perfect.

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    1. Thanks, Galen.

      I am a firm believer that the youth of the world will be what pulls society back into some semblance of balance. They certainly can't do any worse than what our generation has done. And, yes, her stand on the climate will generate the heat and fury that subject brings out in people.

      It struck me last night that those who are so strong in their denial seem to be taking any possibility of change as a personal insult, as if a changing climate says they are personally responsible. I guess we could have a reasonable debate over all the causes, but why do folks have to deny an obvious reality? What is the personal cost in accepting that things are changing that requires such powerful responses?

      Just wait until my post on gun control. That should be a doozy.

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  12. Whatever it takes to wake up your ire to do something about the issues is good.
    Personally, I would rather follow someone who is DOING something....Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Morgan Vague, The combination of Stanford/MIT/ Navy research on new nuclear power, SCSD on AI .... there is a great deal going on. There is some interesting experimentation of using plant leaves for packaging. Will that strip leaves needed for Oxygen? Quinoa and Avocados are "good" for us- but we are destroying a food source for poor people in other areas and water sources in our own. The young people cleaning the oceans of the garbage from cruise ships and fishing vessels. Fascinating.
    There is something about a child stamping their feet (or putting a flower into a gun barrel) that brings attention to a situation for the masses, but that doesn't mean that others have not been working on the problems non stop. We need solutions- not "carbon buybacks" of the wealthy. That is BS- and lining someone's woke pocket.
    Unfortunately, Time magazine is pretty much on life support. If we have 10 years left, we need deeds not words. How about touting things we can get behind---or will we have to give up some of the fun parts of our satisfying retirement to do that?

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    1. Recently I watched a series on Bill Gates and the work he and Melinda are doing through their foundation to help solve some problems that could make huge differences in the lives of tens of millions around the globe. That type of direct action is what we need.

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    2. I admire this young woman, and am not opposed to Time Magazine putting her on their cover if only because she is speaking for the generation that is being left with our crap. I personally (as well as my son) care much more about the type of planet I am leaving for him than the fact that he may never outearn his father (not that I love that part). So I approve of her being front and center for that reason. Having said that, in general I agree with Janette that talk is cheap and that there are things being done that we could be financing and assistang and advocating for around the earth. And because change begins at home, there is alot more almost everyone could be doing on a local level-it was actually frightening for me to recently go to a thrift store and see all the Marie Kondo usable types of rejects, many of which will end in the landfill.

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  13. I'm perplexed as to why some members of society are so resistant to the idea of climate change... not just resistant, but hostile. Are they afraid of all their goodies being taken away from them? We have one earth and our children and grandchildren will have to live with the decisions we make. Just like the loudest protesters during the Vietnam war were those who were in the position to be sent there to possibly die, it's those who will inherit the planet that are the most vocal now.

    I'm enjoying the conversations you are generating, Bob. Even those who disagree are doing so without rancor or name calling.

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    1. I just don't understand the powerful need to deny something that is inevitable. What is to be gained by saying everything that is happening is not happening?

      I have had to delete one wildly inappropriate comment and two spammers. Otherwise, we are all given the chance to express our viewpoint without the name-calling and personal attacks that pollute the Internet.

      The treatment of each other as people deserving respect is very much appreciated.

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    2. Bob, I think people are tired of all the hype around certain topics. Let's use climate change as an example. For as long as I have been an adult (35+ years), we have been bombarded by climate and weather predictions publicized by the media supported by "reputable" scientists that ended up not occurring or occurring to a lot smaller degree than what was projected. Let's phrase it the "chicken little sky is falling" syndrome. After multiple missteps with these predictions, many people are either ignoring the most recent scientific predictions or are reviewing these predictions with a much more critical review about their validity. And then add on top of that all the unhelpful rhetoric and hype coming from politicians about "we have 12 years left, farting cows, etc", and people are discounting what may be some decent imperial data highlighting changes occurring. I do not know of anyone personally who is denying the climate is changing some, however, many people are not convinced that our scientific community is much past the hypothesis stage as to why. I actually read the NASA site on climate change today and found that the scientist are stating hypothesis as known facts. What do they have to gain from doing that one may ask. I have a simple sort of answer. Recognition and more funding. I feel they are being somewhat irresponsible in their statements listed as facts about the true causes of climate change. I believe we should be funding the scientists and further analyzing the root causes (I believe there are many more than one or two causes). Trying to pin the major cause of climate change on carbon emissions for example is circumstantial at best right now because we really do not have data other than ice core and tree core samples to show what occurred historically. And really who knows how accurate those core readings actually are. It's a very good hypothesis but I would avoid calling it fact just yet. What impact are all the metro areas across the globe and the population explosion from 1B to almost 8B in 100 years having on the climate even without carbon emissions? What effect is all the concrete and asphalt having? It's time to be more critical of everything being spouted by the "for profit" media and politicians. Most scientists are very smart and very proud people and do not like anyone challenging their hypothesis (I have worked with may over the years). I keep that concept in mind whenever I hear about this topic and many others. I keep remembering how eggs were bad for you and now they are good as an example.

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    3. The decade just concluded was the hottest on record. Obviously that has an impact on weather patterns, rainfall, ice melt, desertfication, coral reef die off....all sorts of unintended consequences. Your claim that no one is sure who or what should receive the major blame seems to fly in the face of everyting I have seen.

      But, if some of that data is not solid but mere conjecture that is a problem. Honestly, at this point I am trusting the "experts" all while hoping they are wrong about the severity of what lies ahead. "Trust but verify" is a workable approach.



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  14. Bob, you have written about a fascinating phenomenon — how a person (even an adolescent) can become a catalyst for social change at a certain point in time, and shift the course of history. One of the odd things about it is the extreme contrast with how many people feel, which is a sense of relative helplessness to make a difference, and also behave, which is mostly like conformist lemmings.

    I have been highly motivated to create positive changes in the world throughout my life and career, and although I worked hard at it within the existing educational system, the changes I was able to help initiate were very small compared to what 16-year-old Greta has been able to accomplish. I am both inspired by her vision and dogged persistence, and also grateful that someone has been able to articulate what we (all humans) need to hear right now if we are to leave a liveable world for the next generation.

    And, responding to DanP’s most recent comment, yes, climate change is complicated. It is not just about fossil fuel emissions, but also about overpopulation, deforestation, our approach to agriculture/food, and our (especially the developed world’s) addiction to excess material consumption. Climate change is intertwined with other huge and devastating factors and consequences, like species extinction, social breakdown, and wide scale migration. That is why we all need to start taking action where we can on multiple fronts, rather than wasting our precious time undermining each other.

    Jude

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    1. I just read a report on what has been happening at the Davos Forum in Switzerland. Ms. Thunberg was there to make another impassioned speech. And, of course, Trump was there to make fun of her.

      But, very importantly, there has been a significant shift in attitude among some major investment firms in terms of where they will be putting their clients' money. They are coming away from the forum talking about shifting huge sums away from fossil fuel and oil exploration companies and into alternative energy companies. They aren't doing it out of love for the environment but they see what is happening and want to profit from it.

      Frankly, whatever the motivation, if they follow through in a meaningful way this could be a very important step. Trump and other deniers can continue to ignore reality as the world moves under their (sinking) feet.

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