Greta and us
It is undeniable this young girl is passionate about her cause and believes wholeheartedly in what she is doing which in itself is admirable! What is questionable though is whether she would have gotten anywhere near where she is now with it had she not been ‘supported’ by her parents ‘friends’ and subsequently ‘adopted’ and promoted by climate change organizations.
If you read about her story, you will find out that there was and there is a tremendous amount of marketing and promotion, from the supposed ‘moment she was discovered’ to now. In itself, Greta’s story is not only interesting for environmentalists and all of us concerned about the climate crisis but also for people in the marketing and advertising field. She has been a huge success in that way, where other environmental agencies have dragged their feet unsuccessfully for decades.
She believes in the same things, says the same things yet the world now listens. Everybody is paying attention! Both supporters and critics. Why? What is so different about her case? Wasn’t climate crisis already known before? Wasn’t the fear and concern of a great part of the people in this world already there? Greta was an unexpected catalyst and unusual leader. She came at the right time and was at the right place. She made waves. She appealed to young people who identified with her cause in a way that was both meaningful and fun for them, school strikes...Who doesn’t love school strikes?
School strikes is like adult demonstrations. There’s an element of enthusiasm, high spirits and excitement tied to strong emotions and beliefs which turns a mass of people into a unit. A single body united under what seems to be a legitimate cause which causes enough concern to stir people into action.
Does that remind you of something more sinister?... Well now we are witnessing a positive version of mass hysteria and empathy. Yet in both cases the masses act on assumptions not facts, no matter how ‘scientific’ Greta believes her facts are. The masses are not interested in having the whole picture, examining data or in looking at things in detail. The masses respond to whatever stirs in them primal emotions of fear or desire.
Does it matter in this case? Shouldn’t we just be happy with the results if Greta and her followers and supporters will manage to build a momentum powerful enough to translate into actionable policies, rules and regulations? It does matter if we are really interested in seeing the latter happen. It matters lots because there is an established and powerful economic status-quo which may be watching - amused for the moment- not feeling threatened by a girl with braids and Asperger’s, but who’s ready and capable to swallow her in a second should their interests be affected by her influence.
We need more than rock solid scientific facts and teenager hormone high. We need much more than a planet full of people identifying with Greta’s fears and anxieties. We need to prove to the planet’s ruling economies that THEIR interests and profits are at serious risk if they are to continue on the same path without any changes. We need to educate the non aware about what each of us can do to improve our quality of life and that of the planet’s.
Climate change has happened before and repeatedly for that. Our planet has warmed and cooled several times without the help of overpopulation and industrialization. What hasn’t happened before is the atrocious amount of trash and pollution which is solely man caused. The earth’s oceans weren’t filled with plastic, animals and humans didn’t die because of human made toxins flowing in the rivers and poisoning the ground, there was no man made smog.
That fact doesn’t mean that we can turn backwards in time and live the simple, ecologically mindful way of life though. It’s simply impossible due to our sheer numbers. It’s more probable that nature will shake a few billions of us off her back with a pandemic or two. There’s no going back, only forward and forward translates into improved emission levels as well as types, cleaner ways to work the industry, less refuse, less garbage, better recycling and more up-cycling. Less toxins and pollution more water and ocean protection, less deforestation, more reforestation, less wars, more peace and finally and not least more birth control.
Would it be feasible and more advantageous to leave oil ‘in the ground’ as Greta asks and increase our alternative energy sources? This is questionable still and the questions aren’t very popular with environmentalists and the industries behind them. Those questions rely on actual scientific facts and there are still unanswered questions due to the fact that we don’t have enough data to give a definite answer. The truth is that as we are now, the world isn’t ready nor able to survive without oil and gas. It would cause utter chaos and dysfunction, illness and death if we were to turn off the taps all of a sudden.
Reality is much less dramatic and effective than our fears and imagination. It is much more likely that transition will take time and bring a lot of hurdles on the way. We shall realize that alternative energy still needs oil and gas to be made possible until it grows enough to be self sustainable. We shall most probably also find out that there are negative aspects to even the ‘cleanest’ forms or energy and then we will need new Gretas of the future to call the future generations into action to deal with those.
Yet there are much less impressive and popular ways to improve the existing state of affairs, but am afraid these are not exciting enough to raise the masses enthusiasm to the point of taking action or go onto world wide campaigns. They aren’t profitable or appealing enough. They are less likely to attract or ask celebrities to lend their name and fame to their cause.
They are the boring reality of improving what we have and gradually transitioning into proven and effective alternatives, dealing with each problem and set back as they arise, doing our best to foresee them before they do, whenever and as much as possible.
Improve our oil and gas emissions while increasing our alternative energy sources. Find ways to recycle and transform plastic into other more benign forms. Reduce our refuse and garbage, turn it into energy. Put in place much stronger regulations and severe legal deterrents for water, soil and air pollution to the industries that cause them.
Environmentalists should be fair and consistent with their targets. We cannot demonize the Canadian oil-sands but leave the Chinese and Indian coal untouched for example. Celebrities cannot not talk about the levels of oil pollution in California and fly in their private jets to come to Fort McMurray and play their act of preposterous hypocrisy. We cannot allow countries with atrocious human rights conditions to rule the energy world and rely on them for the majority of our energy needs. We cannot justify the cost of decades of material and human loss of wars created to get access to those resources. We should become more self sufficient and independent at all levels, from nation wide to individual.
Not everyone can cycle to work, but the city buses could be electric. Not every country can have electric cars to fulfill their needs of transportation, but those who can, can do it. Not every country’s energy needs can be filled with solar or wind power but those who do can certainly adopt it. Not every country, every city and every area is the same. Not climate wise, not socially wise, not economically wise. Each country, city and area needs to find what works best for them, in all of the above mentioned three aspects and more. Having said that every place on earth can do with more innovative ways to leave a smaller energy footprint.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Greta. I believe she is a bright, dignified and honest young person that walks her talk with amazing faith and single-mindedness and wants to bring change to the world with her message. She is scared and concerned, as many of us are and should be. I do share her sense of urgency about the climate crisis situation and do agree that it is time to take action. My only disagreement is as to what kind of action and how.
Perhaps we need someone like Greta to remind us that change is possible if we take things seriously enough and put enough heart and effort in it. It is much more difficult though to do so for programs and actions that don’t get so much attention from the world and are much more boring and tedious than what the climate crisis bandwagon has become.
I am all for the Greta that she was, alone in her room but it seems that she had to take to the streets of the world, to get her message across to walk her talk and I do admire her and thank her for that. As much as she herself refuses - and rightfully so - to abide by any political side, her message got unfortunately kidnapped and turned into a puppet whose strings are drawn by entities with as much to gain as the mainstream economy has to oppose it. Simply because the message was too simplistic and easy to morph into mindless propaganda.
The intention is good and the core message is valuable though and we can all benefit from paying attention and listening. But the more probable truth and value lies in painstakingly improving what we got while working on developing a better future. The boring reality is that we will achieve much more and faster, each taking action on our own, cleaning up our act than running to school strikes and demonstrations. Not very enticing or appealing is it?
It may be the teenage soul that triggers change but it’s the adult mind and body that has to execute it. Beginning from the politicians and multinational companies and organizations, to educators, auditors, workers and employees, farmers, fishermen, artists, each and everyone of us. Starting from now. Each and every day. Forever.