Children should be seen and not heard.
That used to be common philosophy. Anti-child? Full of contempt and bitterness? No. Ageist? Threatened by a younger generation? No. Children are ignorant.
Not stupid. No, children are not intrinsically stupid. Besides, there are plenty of stupid adults. Anyone watching the impeachment proceedings? But children are without knowledge, that is, have not gained knowledge. Why? Because they are… children. Knowledge must be acquired, and that requires time.
So, we can appreciate the enthusiasm and energy of youth, but their political views should be flatly ignored. And this is especially true when it comes to energy policies and climate change.
The annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, once again hosted young climate activists spewing their ignorance. Their leader, Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg shouted that “our house is on fire.”
Surely the Australian fires have been tragic to watch with loss of life and untold destruction of homes, communities, and wildlife. But less sensational a story than the reductionist “big oil companies heat planet” is the actions of over 180 individuals, some arsonists, some disobeying fire ban rules. Greta didn’t mention that.
Nor, too, did she mention the aboriginal people who have practiced controlled burning for centuries, but have been prevented from doing so by the government. Aboriginal elders in Sydney knew the fire was coming. “It should have happened sooner.”
Funny, if this were a story about native culture, we’d be railing against disenfranchisement or marginalization. But in the new hierarchy of social justice values Greta > Native Culture.
But Australia is in a drought! Surely that is proof of climate change. You know who was also in a drought? California. For seven years. It basically ended last year, and the most recent measure shows that 96% of the state is back to normal. What ended the great California drought?
Noticeably absent from Ms. Thunberg’s Davos screed was any country other than America. Sure, she blasted America from withdrawing from the Gospel of the Paris Climate Accord. But there was no mention of the world’s largest polluter of poisonous Sulphur Dioxide: China, India, and Russia. China emits more carbon dioxide than the US and the EU combined. China and India are also world leaders in ocean pollution, dumping plastics directly into the waterways.
How cozy to blast America in neutral Switzerland about the pollution caused by China. Makes one want to compose a folksong.
Look, I mean Ms. Thunberg no ill will. But the feeling is not mutual. When she makes her list of demands that we stop burning fossil fuels immediately, I think it’s fair to ask her “who should die first?” Because people will die. Look at developing nations. The leading cause of death among children is malnutrition and diarrhea. Fossil fuels could fix that. They not only help sow, irrigate, and harvest crops, they also fertilize and transport them. Refrigeration keeps perishable foods from spoiling. Transportation delivers it quickly. Fossil fuels help sustain life.
Fellow radical and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took an even more extreme step at a debate last year when he supported taxpayer funded abortion for poor countries to combat climate change. Here, too, it’s fair to ask “which countries?”
I wonder if they get a say before the American taxpayer aborts their children. Probably not. But like I said at the beginning, there are plenty of stupid adults.
While the climate is indeed changing, it’s impossible to have a productive conversation with those whose only lexicon is hyperbole and who remain politically frightened to say the word China. She’s a kid so I will cut Ms. Thunberg and her young eco-warrior peers some slack. But when it comes to energy policy, the electric grid, the lifeblood of the economy and our very way of life, the adults must do the talking.
Daniel Turner is the founder and executive director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DanielTurnerPTF.