I’ll say this for Greta Thunberg. Youngsters massing for climate marches is more uplifting than spittle-flecked old people shouting at each other about Brexit.
And you can take that from a member of the spittle-flecked classes.
Better to side with idealistic youth than join your gnarled peers heckling from their bar-stools, even if you do still harbour doubts (some of that sour fruit dangles below).
The remarkable Swedish teenager was in New York for last week’s climate strike. According to a BBC report, 1.1m teenagers joined her on that march, while others thronged to similar protests around the world. How remarkable is that? A one-girl protest transformed into a worldwide march.
If that’s not inspirational, I don’t know what is.
Not everyone is impressed. A cursory dip in the comments sections will show how Thunberg is often attacked by men old enough to know better.
Mostly these men, and mostly they are men, brandish morally bankrupt arguments. Lines and lies deployed by the most morally bankrupt of them all, the climate-destroying can of Tango who doubles as president of the US.
Attacking a teenager with acknowledged mental health issues who just wants to make the world a better place is about as low as you can go. But is there a downside to the hurried deification of Greta Thunberg? Perhaps, if making her the figurehead allows non-believers to say she and her followers are just young and naïve. It’s also a mighty weight to place on such slight shoulders.
Yet Thunberg does speak well, saying last week, “Change is coming whether you like it or not.”
Well, yes, and my generation probably won’t like some of those changes. The Extinction Rebellion protests are spreading. Last month we happened to be in Manchester when the protesters blocked Deansgate , and it was a cheerful sight, especially the lack of cars on that busy road.
But people do need to drive and until the world changes, there will be cars, however many scruffy campsites appear on our roads.
Electric cars are slowly on the rise, but even they are attacked by the ultra-greens, as an electric car is still a car, a traffic jam of electric cars is still a traffic jam, and so on.
Electric cars also produce pollution from tyres and brake dust, apparently – and the first time I read that, in the Guardian as it happens, I thought, “Well, bloody hell you just can’t win.”
As for Extinction Rebellion, they appear to be Greta Thunberg’s hardcore uncle (or auntie), ultra-environmentalists who believe we face imminent devastation, so extreme disruption is the only answer.
This is environmental protest as a religion whose followers believe the world is going to end any day. Their gloomy predictions are so intense, you wouldn’t be surprised to open the front door next week and find nothing there. Except a skeleton holding a banner saying: “Told you so.”
More protests are planned next month, and a spin-off group says it will block Smithfield meat market in London, in protest at the environmental costs of eating meat.
Will this win people round to the cause or will it just annoy meat eaters who’d rather be left alone? A bit of both at a guess, but the annoyance may win out.
I eat veggie meals, vegan meals and meals containing fish and meat. Mostly it’s a decent diet, but I’m not in a rush to live in a world without bacon and sausages, or an occasional roast or beef stew.
Hectoring people into changing their diet can only work so far. People who quietly go about they day eating only vegan food are admirable; vegans who shout at you for eating meat are a noisy nuisance.
Would the world even be sustainable if we all gave up meat and lived off lentils (lovely things, lentils – especially with some of that bacon)?
Doubt besets us, or it does me. Is it fair to reduce young people to tears as they sob about their ruined future (the one we all ruined for them); while most climate scientists agree the world is heating up too fast, is the evidence of immediate doom as clearly written as the eco-evangelists believe?
These are questions, not answers. As Johnny Nash sang all those years ago, long before climate change had been ‘invented’, There Are More Questions Than Answers.