Empathy for Greta Thunberg.
Posted on September 24, 2019
I actually can have empathy for the Climate Strike, and its unlikely heroine. Unlike many of my generation who scoff at a “lowly” 16 year old girl who is crying out to her elders, to pay attention, to a pressing crisis. I am not scoffing. I know exactly how she feels.
Like Greta, I read all the articles, heard the news reports, saw the science. If things didn’t change soon, the world would end. Burnt to a cinder. Nothing would ever be the same, and life as we know it? Gone forever.
I read that whole ecosystems would collapse, even the sea would die. Mass extinctions would follow, humanity wouldn’t stand a chance. And in the end? The world would be one vast wasteland with no possibility of life.
My teachers, guarded in their words to be sure, ever fearful they would be called out by their superiors for indoctrinating us, talked to us about it. Told us that it was up to us, our generation to solve this problem. A problem, created by their generation. That voices of reason were lost, silenced by those in power. And that those in power? Were only concerned about profit, and the money to be made in industry hell bent on creating fear. So, it was up to us, the youth of today, only we could change our future for a better tomorrow.
I was a true believer. I had nightmares. I worried about it. A news program would come on telling me of the latest danger and I would stay up worrying over every minute detail of the newest information, or the latest scientific discover. My friends talked of it, they also had nightmares. We would watch TV. Go to movies. Hollywood was with us, they were our champions to the cause, to stop this madness that would destroy all life on earth.
This fear of the end. This knowledge of not ‘if’ but ‘when’ the end would come haunted me. I carried it with me, always in the back of my head. Knowledge that it was coming, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about. Even my protests, as weak as they were, fell on deaf ears. The older generation didn’t seem to care. Didn’t seem to take notice.
I watched my peers march in the streets, hold meeting with Congress, implore people not to ignore the threat. Yet they did, they ignored us. They ignored everyone. Telling us we didn’t understand the situation. That we can’t solve the problem the way we asked them to.
And in the end? They were right.
See, the end of the world for me was Nuclear War. I am a child of the Cold War, having grown up with the threat of Nuclear Annihilation, that had been told to me since I was little, shown to me on every news program, written in every magazine and newspaper. It was very real to me. It could happen. I almost did a couple of times. Nuclear Weapons, even now, are still a threat.
But the dynamics of it all, well that eluded me till I was older. Once the Soviet Union fell, and the United States became (for a brief time) the only major Nuclear Power in the world, I had to sit back and think of what my generation grew up with.
Greta Thunberg believes in the science, like I did. She believes in what her teachers told her, like I did. She believes in the media reports, like I did. She is a believer, and so was I.
For me, the end of the world never came. Instead the Soviet Flag was lowered, and a tri-colored flag was raised over Moscow. The Cold War was over, the looming threat of two Super Powers blowing up the world lessened.
What ended the threat was simple economics. The Soviet Union, a bastion of Socialism and Communist doctrine fell because they simply couldn’t afford it anymore. Capitalism, with all its pitfalls and faults, won the day. A generation would grow up never knowing the threat of a Nuclear Winter.
For me? It was wonderous, and anticlimactic. The solution to our problem was right in front of us. Yet we didn’t even see it. That a system that regulates what each loaf of bread costs, and how many you should get? That one that tells you where you should live, and if you really need that operation? Fell to the notion of a free market and belief in the individual, not the government.
We simply out did them with innovation and technological advancements. We could afford it, they couldn’t. They went broke trying to keep up.
You may think my comparison of Nuclear Annihilation to Climate Change naïve, but it isn’t. Both instill fear. Both are man made issues. Both had call to actions from the youth. Both worried millions and kept many awake at night. And I feel, personally, both will be solved the same way.
We are not going to stop Climate Change by resetting humanity by 300 years. Never, in human history, has going back to how things were done before made things better. New technology doesn’t crop up because you want it to. It crops up because you need it, or it improves lives. Taking tried and true methods and trashing them without a viable replacement? Not going to happen.
We had horses, they did everything for humanity for thousands of years. Yet horses were replaced in less than 50 years time by the automobile. Why? No one every asks why? Because the car was more practical than the horse. It could go farther without rest, and cost less to maintain. Simplicity is always the easiest route.
I do empathize with Greta Thunberg. I believe her concerns are real. Yet her solutions, and those offered by others with the same fear, are not real. Just fantasies like the ones told to me. That in the end, the solution will be the simplest one, the one we do not expect.
[Opinions expressed in this blog are from the fertile imagination of the author. Who, but by sheer luck, survived the Cold War without having to scavenge for food in the nuclear wastelands of Australia while being chased by mohawk haircuts wearing, leather chap pants donning, psychos. Although the author does feel he was cheated out of not being held captive by Tina Turner.]