Did you remember that today is Earth Day? You’d be forgiven for forgetting. After all, the coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 2.5 million people worldwide and killed nearly 180,000. It’s made nearly 200 million people unemployed. The news media talks of little else.
But fear not, Greta’s here. Again. Ms Thunberg has emerged from her hiatus to remind the (Western) world that, in addition to worrying about our health, our newfound unemployment, and the steady erosion of our freedoms, we should still feel bad about our contribution to climate change. In a new video to mark Earth Day, her Fridays for Future organization warns us that “our house is on fire.”
Those responsible for this conflagration are explicitly fingered: a white, middle-class family sending their children to school while ignoring the flames billowing around them.
Never mind that the wave of pandemic-triggered unemployment has devastated the white middle-class as much as any other demographic group, and the fact that parents under lockdown can no longer send their children to school, Greta wants her audience of guilt-ridden greens to remember it’s families like theirs who are killing the world.
But that audience doesn’t exist any more. Guilty white liberals hung on Greta’s every word when times were good, but despite the best efforts of the establishment media to associate the coronavirus pandemic with our encroachment on nature, nobody is listening. Middle-class liberals could afford to take time off work to glue themselves to trains in London last year, but now they’re not only shut inside their homes, but also out of work and focused on the more immediate problem of near-term survival.
World leaders now talk of bailing out their battered economies, not meeting carbon emissions targets. With carbon-emitting industries shuttered around the world, they’d be thrilled to hear jet engines restarting and furnaces roaring. No matter how profound the drop in pollution has been since the outbreak of the pandemic, no politician with a functioning brain is going to stand up and declare recent events as some kind of victory. They’d be hanged, drawn and quartered by their jobless, impoverished constituents.
But that hasn’t stopped politicians without functioning brains from trying. As US oil prices plunged into negative territory this week, progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – hailed last year as the future of the Democratic Party – fired off a celebratory tweet.
“You absolutely love to see it,” she wrote on Monday, hailing the collapse of the American economy as a harbinger of a new, green future: “This, along with record low interest rates, means it’s the right time for a worker-led mass investment of green infrastructure to save our planet.”
Deleted but not forgotten
Before the great plague, Greta and AOC peddled ideas that were light entertainment for the bourgeoisie. A cause to discuss at dinner parties. Something to prattle about at the wine bar.
And when times were good, the public was willing to overlook the inconsistencies in their messaging. Thunberg offered no actual ideas to deliver her end goal of net-zero carbon, and sailed around the world on a multimillion-dollar racing yacht while she lectured the plebs on the evils of air travel. Fans of Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal ignored the fact that it would have bankrupted America and granted the state near-tyrannical powers over its citizens.
But perhaps there is also an esoteric explanation for why these ideas struck such a chord in the West. In ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra,’ German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that decadent societies look up to weak idols, and allow those idols to preach “castratism” to them. In other words, a comfortable society, facing few real challenges, will reject the idea of its own greatness or mission, with the masses instead cheering on figures such as Thunbeg who berate and criticize them.
Before the coronavirus, we begged them to belittle us. We were proud of our “flight shame” and lined up to confess our “climate sins.”
But watch what happens when the eco-activists try to sell those ideas amid an actual, once-in-a-lifetime crisis. People don’t listen – they lash out. The very proponents of these ideas retract them in shame, as Ocasio-Cortez did when she deleted her tweet on Tuesday. They don’t even have the guts to stand behind the gospel they preached only months ago.
Support for green parties has slumped across Europe. And recent polls in Britain show falling concern about climate change, and a majority in favor of the government taking steps to help the economy recover, even if that’s at the potential expense of the environment.
Hard times create strong men, who, in turn, create good times, wrote novelist G Michael Hopf. With the pandemic ongoing and the International Monetary Fund’s economists predicting a depression on par with that of the 1930s, or worse, we are indeed living through hard times. Hard men, or women, will undoubtedly emerge to offer a compelling vision of the future.
Greta Thunberg and her wine-bar environmentalists, however, are not those people.
The Education of Greta Thunberg: Naivety Meets Reality for the Teen Climate Alarmist
Since she first stood alone in front of the Swedish parliament last August protesting insufficient action in fighting climate change, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has literally become the poster child for a worldwide student movement. Holding a “school strike for climate change” sign, the then 15-year-old said she was refusing to attend classes until Swedish politicians acted.
Her actions led last week to an estimated one million or more students in over 100 countries to boycott classes to prompt what they say is urgent action needed to reign in harmful climate change.
“We are facing the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced,” said Ms. Thunberg. “If your house is on fire, you don’t sit down to talk about it. I want people to panic.”
She did admit that “I am not a scientist. I don’t have the proper education.” She is quite correct in that regard. It is not just that she is blissfully ignorant of many climate facts, but what she does supposedly know is just so wrong. If she were to return to the classroom, her lessons should serve to calm her fears.
For example, in Science class she would learn that worldwide surface measurements reveal that, while the planet is in the midst of a warming trend of several hundred years, the Earth has not warmed at all since she was born. Her teachers could also assure her that our current temperatures are not at all unusual nor unprecedented, but very similar to previous warming trends over the last several thousand years.
Moving on to Biology class, she could explore how plants rely on carbon dioxide (CO2) as the basic building block in the process of photosynthesis. She would find that, rather than being a pollutant, CO2 is fueling plant growth and that an increase in this gas is leading to higher crop productivity and a “greening” of the Earth.
Later in the morning, she would join her classmates for History lessons. There, a review of human life dating back to the earliest of the great civilizations would reveal that the several previous warming periods (called climate optima) directly correlated to fantastic periods of human prosperity and advances. Ms. Thunberg would have to unlearn what she has been told about the theoretical dangers of increasing temperature, as actual experience clearly would show her that the cold periods were associated with famine, pestilence and mass depopulation.
During Health class, she would find that she has been incredibly misled about the health implications of rising temperatures. Contrary to what her handlers have told her, the real killer is cold, not heat. As many as 20 times as many people diearound the globe from cold-related issues as from heat. Rising temperatures will save lives.
While still in Health class, her teachers could provide the students with information on one of the biggest pollution-related killers: the indoor air pollution associated with stoves and fires inside homes. Replacing the wood- and dung-fired stoves in homes with the clean-burning fossil fuels that Greta so dislikes would reduce the estimated 1.6 million people who die every year from the associated respiratory illnesses.
Finally, in her Economics class, she might learn that the fossil fuels that she wants to ban are providing reliable, abundant and affordable energy to the planet’s growing population. Her teacher might also tell the class that the poorest pay the highest percentage of their meager incomes for energy, so the higher energy costs associated with the renewable energy would harm those unfortunates the most.
I am quite sure that Ms. Thunberg has a big heart and wants the best for Earth and humanity, but it is time for her to go back to school to learn what she doesn’t know and to unlearn so much of what she has been taught.
Gregory Wrightstone is author of the new book, Inconvenient Facts: The Science That Al Gore Doesn’t Want You To Know. Wrightstone is a geologist with more than 35 years of experience researching and studying various aspects of the Earth’s processes. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of America.