Our kids will own the dire results of climate change and inequality, we need to stop telling them to sit down and shut up.
Any beer buzzed college freshman can tell you that once you melt the first couple of ice cubes, the rest dissolve much faster. Such is the science of climate change and ice sheets melting exponentially faster than previously thought.
‘Duh dawg,’ my 18-year-old son says, ‘that’s kind of obvious.’
What he doesn’t find as clear is what the ‘adults’ are doing about his future. Despite abundantly clear evidence and immediately dire consequences, ‘What,’ he asks, ‘is holding you all back from fixing the climate mess you created?’
Gen Xer’s expected more wealth than parents: Gen Z simply wants a livable planet
It’s a good question. Upon reflection, and in all honesty, we have to say it’s not just the science naysayers, nor those, who like Trump, simply don’t believe. No. As with much that happens in life, it would be both dishonest and disingenuous to blame others.
[bctt tweet=”What is truly holding us back are the so-called ‘adults’ in the room”] What is truly holding us back are the so-called ‘adults’ in the room.
While the poles are melting, the forests are being ravaged, and the oceans salted with plastic and set to boil, we ‘adults’ seem only capable of petty politics. My son’s question, put another way: Given our behavior, how can we believe centralist liberal democratic economics reform can produce meaningful solutions?
Many of us know they can’t.
Assets are all Naturally Produced. Why aren’t We Protecting Them?
Yet we persist with dubious policies that play about the edges of the problems. We do this while deluding ourselves that we are protecting our shared natural assets when in reality, we are principally interested in protecting the way we currently use them.
As we fail in this responsibility to the next generation, many are also telling younger people to sit down and shut up (by younger I mean under 35).
Aaron Sorkin is the evil villain of this story (but there are legions of equally befuddled others), who made himself infamous to millions of youth when he barked ‘Heal’ on CNN, telling the young Green New Deal (#GND) rebels to act like adults.
[bctt tweet=”I’ll take Greta Thunberg over you any freaking day”] I paraphrase Sorkin with a reflux of revulsion. And I ask: what has leaving it to the ‘adults’ alone ever got us? If adults had listened to the Loraxes of my youth, we might not be chest deep in the carbon swill we find ourselves today.
My son’s response to Sorkin: “You are literally asking us to grow up while you piss away the only chance we have to fix our climate. I’ll take Greta Thunberg over you any freaking day. Sit down and shut up yourself.’
I was an even prouder Papa when I read Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman’s fantastic New York Times Op Ed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Tax Hike Idea Is Not About Soaking the Rich, which agrees with my son. In the article, they argue oligarchy (or ownership of things by a very few) is the biggest threat to democracy (aka modern society). While they refer primarily to economic oligarchies, I would highlight as well, the ruinous ‘father-knows-best’ oligarchy of thought that is part and parcel of the danger. ‘The extreme concentration of wealth,’ they wrote “means an extreme concentration of economic and political power.”
To understand what this means for climate solutions, we need look no further than to how the Koch Brothers, Exxon Mobile, Purdue Pharma, Big Tobacco, Bayer/Monsanto et al fund efforts to protect their own destructive narratives against all costs.
“I’m all Right Jack, keep your hand of my stash…Don’t give me that do good, good bullshit” –Pink Floyd
Liberal economic democrats a la Sorkin feign horror at corporate actors (and their political and investor/ banker enablers). Yet they insist on our having faith in political and economic processes that don’t disrupt their status quo. Some people might called conservatism. But I digress.
[bctt tweet=”Davos is not just hard-to-miss-symbolism. It’s farcically Trumpian”] It is sad, and not at all ironic, to learn there was a 15% increase in private jet travel to Davos this year (or 1,500 jets v 1,300 last year).
This is not just hard-to-miss-symbolism. It’s farcically Trumpian: it tells us to keep the same economic expectations, rules, and regulations that makes the unnecessarily rich all the richer and let them donate some of their profits and/ or have us pay them to tech our way out the mess they are creating. In this, sadly, we are all complicit.
Anyhow, you can be excused if this: a) hardens your cynicism towards the rich; and, or, b) makes you wonder who you to trust to resolve the urgent climate change and inequality puzzles. The scions of liberal economic democracy? Or the #GND rebels?
Davos to Climate Change: We want our ice and to eat it too
As Saez and Zucman point out, this is just so much “self-justifying ideology.” And is it just me, or is this also paradoxical to the extreme? Can we expect existential planetary problems to be resolved by giving away bits of the fortunes created by the very economic algorithms producing the problems in the first place?
Our generation of leaders? We are selfish, smug, and tired. We need to stick a fork in ourselves and get out of the way. While we fiddle, fiddle and fight in the middle, the best alternative Sorkinian Adults can do is to dress up the Congress’ old ‘Energy Independence and Climate Committee.’ This is a solution? Seriously?
Progress = Not to be Arrested by the Vested
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the #GND rebels are right to snub this or any other 20th Century solution. We are well past “natural gas is the answer.”
The #GND, in the words of my younger son, however, ‘now that’s a real sick 3’fer beast Dad.’ Translation: it’s a great 3 for 1 solution that addresses economic growth, inequality, and climate at the same time. “All we gotta do,” he mused “is get our ‘proverbial’ together, like when we sent some guys to the moon”
[bctt tweet=”The Green New Deal: a sick 3’fer plan for growth, cool climate, and equality”] He thinks we can do it too, and many economic models agree.
Distracted by lesser issues, hobbled by a lack of youthful energy, and blinded by collective baggage limiting our vision of what is possible, adults can’t seem to agree on much. It doesn’t help muych that commercial oligarchies – read billionaires – control the narrative and campaign finance check books. Ergo the value of AOC cleansing 70% tax on incomes over $10 million (or 95% above $500,000, in my scenario).
The #GND is just too much for our old circuitry to imagine, so we prefer defaulting to…. errr, doing not near enough of substance. Sure, forty politicians signed on to the #GND idea. But did those forty sit in with Sunrise Movement and @AOC at Nancy Pelosi’s office last week?
We need to get with them, or get out of their way
It seems ‘adults’ are unable to see a future where the priorities of those who will have to live it are not the priorities. Hell, I bet most of us don’t even know what a ‘sick dawg’ is anyway.
#GND rebels? Disruptive? Pushy? Unyielding? Yes, yes, and yes. And why not? You tell me who better to define this dangerous future than those who will live it? Aaron Sorkin? Tired ol’ Liberal Democrats?
[bctt tweet=”Climate impacts will be dire exactly when most of our current leaders are drooling in their soup or dead”] Our gift to them is a potentially intractable, life-altering crisis that will make life on Earth incredibly difficult in around 20 years or so. That is exactly when most of us and our leaders will be either drooling our soup or dead.
Me? I’ll take as sage 29-year-old Congress woman, a pesky 12-year-old Finnish girl, and my kids over us any day.
Rebel. Resist. Regenerate.
Opinions are those of the author and do not reflect those of The Sustainable Century blog, podcast, video cast guests.