There’s a certain possibility that this global fame being accorded to Greta Thunberg isn’t all that wise. Even, that what we’re observing is behaviour more like that of Violet Elizabeth Bott than anything more mature and proper. For what we are seeing is a teenage girl telling us that we must do ever more extreme things to please her sense of how the world should be ordered. This isn’t a sign of a mature society – nor is it how we would describe a well functioning family in fact.
Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist, has given her support for a general strike for the climate, saying the student movement she inspired needs more support from older generations to ensure politicians keep their promises under the Paris agreement. Speaking at a public event in London as Extinction Rebellion protests continued in the capital, the initiator of the school strike for climate movement was typically frank about the scale of the problem the world faces and the impact her campaign has made. “People are slowly becoming more aware, but emissions continue to rise. We can’t focus on small things. Basically, nothing has changed,” she said. At several points, she stressed the need for the protests to spread. “This is not just young people being sick of politicians. It’s an existential crisis,” Thunberg said. “It is something that will affect the future of our civilisation. It’s not just a movement. It’s a crisis and we must take action accordingly.”
I’ll thcream and thcream ’till I’m thick, or perhaps I’ll hold my breath until I turn blue.
The thing being a very large number of very much wiser people have considered this very problem. Just to name a few – Nick Stern, Bill Nordhaus, Marty Weizman, John Quiggin, Sir Partha Dasgupta, in fact the entire roll call of economists who have bothered to ponder the matter – and trying to do everything right now is not the answer.
We’re talking about human beings and trying to make an economic decision. The correct answer being, assuming we all agree upon the problem and the desire to do something about it, that we change incentives as to future behaviour while continuing to consume the output of what we’ve already built. This does indeed mean that there will be some warming.
Our aim being to make human beings, now and in the future, as well off as possible given the constraints reality places upon us. This means balancing climate change mitigation with climate change adaptation. We’ve even the logic and empirical results to tell us how to do such balancing, how to gain that optimal amount of each. Which is what is in those IPCC reports and the answer isn’t to do everything now.
And it’s worth recalling Nick Stern’s point. Yes, in that very review where he says we do need to do something. Whatever it is that we do we need to do it cheaply. Precisely because humans do less of expensive things. Thus if we opt for the expensive method – ie, do it all now – method of climate change mitigation then we’ll do less climate change mitigation.
All of which generates a certain sense of unease at watching current society. In fact, this worries:
At age 11, she became depressed and stopped talking. Later on she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), and selective mutism.
To be polite about Greta Thunberg’s activism turning over global society to a monomaniac autist is possibly not all that wise. To be impolite running the world according to the dictates of a teenage nutter might not work out well.
Update: It would appear that we’re not alone in this view:
The correct response to Greta Thunberg and her parasitic (in every sense of the word) hangers-on is as follows:
Give us a practical – by which we mean can-be-implemented-with-existing-technologies – 20 year plan for reducing carbon emissions world-wide by X%.
Cover the top 10 current CO2 polluters; either assume they continue on current trend, or argue why they will change.
You cannot assume any existing technology improves by more than 4% per year for cost/efficiency.
Include the expected economic impact on the top 10 world economies.
Greta would (quite rightly) say: “I’m 16 years old, how could you possibly expect me to answer this?”
Greta käraste, if you can’t be expected to answer the hard questions, why should we listen to your easy answers?