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Posted: December 14, 2019

I’ve seen the future and I regret to say it doesn’t look good

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

Who is Greta Thunberg?

As most know by now, she’s the 16-year-old Swedish waif who sat down in front of the Swedish legislature a year ago holding a sign saying she was on strike from school to oppose lack of action by adults on climate change.

Now, how ridiculous is that? Indeed, “ridiculous” is the very word President Donald Trump used this week to describe Thunberg except he wasn’t describing what she did on the steps of the Swedish Legislature. No, what Trump was doing in his usual censorious, bullying way was condemning the editors of Time Magazine for making glum Greta, Time’s 2019 “Person of the Year,” a title Trump was unabashedly seeking for himself.

Now that’s what I would call ridiculous.

The very president who’s currently the subject of a US Congressional impeachment hearing snarling out tweets condemning the youngest person ever to be awarded Time’s coveted editorial honour. But mockery is just tools of the trade for the US Commander-in-Chief. Or maybe that should be Narcissist in Chief? And he’s not alone. Fire up the Net yourself and see the ugly barrage of mockery that’s greeted Time’s momentous announcement. Much of it, as a story in the Toronto Star said, appearing to come from older, insecure males who hate themselves.

I won’t repeat the mockery because it’s truly beneath contempt. However, I will repeat a comment by Michael Knowles of the conservative news site, the Daily Wire, who labelled  Thunberg “a mentally ill Swedish child.”

Knowles’ comment was too much even for FOX News, which initially carried his remark, but subsequently apologized to its viewers for what it called his “disgraceful” comment.

It’s nice for a change to see FOX showing a spark of compassion for something other than its normally hard-line conservative views. But I have to tell you that I’ve heard the same type of comments right here in Cranbrook. Whatever happened to compassionate conservatism?

So, how do I get off referring to this young girl as “glum Greta?” I’m glad you asked because I have my reasons.

First of all, anyone who’s been a journalist for 40 years has an undying love and appreciation for alliteration. So, please cut me a little slack. But secondly, and much more importantly, I share Greta’s despair about the future. Does anyone seriously think there is enough political will in the world to meet the scientific consensus that the world’s mean temperature must be reduced by 1.5 degrees Centigrade over the next decade to prevent the certain onset of climatic Armageddon for Mother Earth?

Not a chance and I’m just as guilty as the rest of you.

My little family of two people owns two vehicles – and horrors – one of them is a SUV. I walk as much as I can around town but I drive that SUV, too, and I have no plans to change. In February, my wife and I are going to catch some tropical sun in Costa Rica and we’re not going there by a solar-powered sailboat.

I could go on, but I think you get my drift. And consider this. Carbon producing coal, sometimes  called a “sunset industry,” still accounts for 41% of energy production in the world (Wikipedia) and they’re still tearing down mountains in the Elk Valley to produce it as well as mountains in China and the rest of the world.

Let’s be honest. We’re not going to make the 1.5 C reduction target in a decade, if ever. So, Greta and the scientists are right. The oceans are becoming acidified, the atmosphere toxic, forests are burning at an ever-increasing rate, floods and hurricanes are also on the rise and billions of the world’s most poverty stricken refugees are moving relentlessly towards where the economy is better under the mistaken belief that they will be saved with us.

As a septuagenarian, I can easily say – but not without some guilt – that I’m alright Jack. I won’t be around that much longer. But the same can’t be said for my children. Nor for yours.

So, where the hell does this leave us? Between the proverbial rock and a hard place, I reckon, and something to think about as we prepare to gross out over the so-called “holiday” season.

That’s why Greta and I are so glum.

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who wishes he could be more optimistic about the world’s fate.


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