Leader after leader told the United Nations on Monday that they will do more to prevent a warming world from reaching even more dangerous levels. But as they made their pledges at the Climate Action Summit after an emotional appeal from 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, they and others conceded it was not enough.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here,” said Greta, who began a lone protest outside the Swedish parliament more than a year ago that culminated in Friday’s global climate strikes. “I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you have come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
“People are suffering, people are dying,” Greta said as she sat on the dais with panelists who included a young clean-energy entrepreneur from India and a Brazilian lawyer representing youth climate activists. “Entire ecosystem are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?”
“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear,” Greta added. “How dare you continue to look away and come here and say you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight?” [sic]
In the last 30 years, life expectancies have risen, world poverty has plummeted, and by 2018 the middle class has soared to encompass more than half the world’s population. People’s lives are getting better around the globe. This is no fairy tale. That is called economic growth. Money is the miracle lubricant that enables that growth. Money makes possible the division of labor by facilitating the ability of people to get better together through the shared prosperity of trade, thus enhancing the liberty of the individual to use his reason to advance his own life.
That economic growth means people are suffering less. Fewer and fewer people are dying prematurely from climate-related danger as steady economic growth dramatically improves climate and environmental safety. Still, many of the world’s people are still living in deprivation, lacking even electricity. There’s much more to do. “Eternal economic growth” is a vital necessity; vital, that is, if improving human well-being is your goal.
Yet, Greta Thunberg wants to roll back the clock to a time when the climate really was a crisis for humans--a chronic crisis, a constant battle for bare survival against famine and disease and pestilence and weather. For what? She wants to save the ecosystems from “collapsing”—which means, to save the planet from human alteration. Life without technology and industry, the energy and freedom that powers it, and the economic growth that results, is wholesale suffering and shorter lives. She damns money and economic growth outright, thus regressing mankind back to the hellhole of life in raw nature, in the process stealing the dreams and destroying the futures of the very young people she arrogantly claims to speak for.
And what kind of life do today’s young people have to look forward to? 300 years ago, at the dawn of the Enlightenment, the odds were that a youngster like Thunberg wouldn’t have lived to 16 years old. And if she did, she could count on a brutish life of extreme poverty and drudgery in a hostile natural environment--the same stagnant life of her parents, grandparents, and generations past. Instead, a young person today faces a long, prosperous, much safer life full of opportunity. What brought that magnificent progress? Freedom, money, and economic growth. That’s the future that her elders bequeathed to today’s young people. And for that gift, all she has to say to her elders is, “how dare you?” How ungrateful.
But that’s not the worst of it. What of her claim that “the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight?” Nonsense. We’ve had decades full of hundreds of $billions in subsidies and regulations to encourage “clean energy” imposed by governments. It hasn’t worked. People want their reliable fossil fuels because economic growth needs reliable, cheap, plentiful energy, and economic growth is the only means of improving human life. But political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. To date, not enough political power has been brought to bear. The limited political solutions of subsidies and regulations have not made the impossible possible. Some controls have been tried, and have failed. So Thunberg demands what every utopian who thinks she has a right to force her values on everyone else. Though she doesn’t come right out and say it, she demands the total politics of socialist totalitarianism, plainly laid out by Leftists politicians. She’s addressing a government body. She demands that they force aside economic well-being. That means freedom must go.
How dare her! Hers is the voice of a monstrous evil. Thunberg’s message goes beyond the fairy tale of some prosperous “clean energy” future. It goes beyond windmills and solar panels. She proclaims the true heart and soul of Environmentalism, the moral supremacy of nature over human life. Give her credit for honesty. She doesn’t cloak her agenda in promises of jobs and economic growth, the way climate fear mongers do in pushing to outlaw fossil fuels and nuclear in the name of renewable energy. She flat out attacks freedom, money, and economic growth. “Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth, ” Thunberg bellows. We need “politics” (force) to impose “solutions” like: “Everyone and everything has to change so why waste precious time arguing about what and who needs to change first?” Sounds a lot like “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” as the UN puts it, that only totalitarian powers can bring about, as every utopian thug who ever sought to shape society to his liking has shown. She demands we “make the best available science the heart of politics and democracy.” That’s not a new sentiment. Karl Marx’s “scientific socialism” resulted in 100 million deaths by government trying to implement just that. The science of eugenics justified the German National Socialists’ examination policies. That’s what you get when you make science rather than protecting individual rights “the heart of politics.”
I don’t know how much of the 16 year old Thunberg’s vision is indoctrinated ignorance and how much is her actual conviction. Perhaps she is an innocent child victim of extreme exploitation “to advance a political agenda” or “vicariously living out her parents’ own dreams of global fame via their daughter,” as Emma Freire argues. Perhaps Thunberg is a victim of “betrayal,” having “been misled by the hysterics of doomsayers to spend their formative years trembling with dread” in order to make her a mouthpiece for those who aim to “massively increase government power” and “go from capitalism to socialism,” as Jon Hersey argues. Or perhaps she’s not so innocent. I do know one thing. Her utopian vision would be disastrous for human life on Earth. Such utopian disasters are never innocent. Whatever the case with Thunberg, that is the vision that the United Nations, the institution whose members claim to represent all the people of the planet, gave its platform to. How dare they!
Paris Climate Agreement Adopted: New Central Plan for the World’s Economy and Climate—Ronald Bailey for Reason.com
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels—Alex Epstein
The sustainability myth—Alex Epstein
The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution—Ayn Rand and Peter Schwartz
The Formula for a Richer World? Equality, Liberty, Justice—Deirdre N. McCloskey
Our Alleged 'Climate Crisis' is No Longer, Thanks to Fossil Fuels