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Criticising Greta

Entry 2005, on 2019-10-05 at 15:39:13 (Rating 3, Politics)

I have received a lot of "feedback" on social media recently after my various criticisms of Greta Thunberg. If you are unfamiliar with her (where have you been), Thunberg is a young (16 year old) Swedish climate activist who has become prominent recently after her "passionate" speeches addressing world leaders on the subject of climate change.

When I say feedback, above, I really should perhaps have said "abuse" or "insults" instead, because her supporters really don't consider any criticism of her to be allowable, and tend to go on the attack against her detractors, generally with simplistic catch-phrases and generic insults, rather than with anything of any genuine merit.

To give you an idea of her style of rhetoric, here is an excerpt from a well-known, recent speech: "This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!"

Clearly this speech is based around false premises, hyperbole, and emotional rhetoric, and it should be completely open to criticism based on those, and other points. And the fact that she is "just a child" is irrelevant. If she wanted to retain the benefits of being a child then she should have kept out of controversial, global politics. She can't have it both ways.

I'm not saying that political speeches, protests, and other activism are bad, in fact I fully support the right to protest. But there are a lot of protests based on very few real facts, and where a clear political view is being advanced, rather than anything more fair and reasonable.

So, sure, protest as much as you like, make as many controversial political speeches as you like, criticise your opponents as much as you like... but don't expect to get a "free pass" to do this without getting some push back from those who disagree with you. People who criticise Thunberg aren't disgusting, child hating, out of touch dinosaurs, they're people who disagree with her political views, and that is a perfectly reasonable view to have.

Note that by disagreeing with Thunberg's views I'm not denying global warming. I think the scientific consensus is probably very accurate, and I think we should be making changes now which will mitigate the effects of AGW. But it is possible to support action on climate while disagreeing with the whining, exaggerated, overly emotional BS people like her prefer to embrace.

If we really want to deal with climate change we need as many people to agree with the need for action as possible. By turning it into a politically contentious issue, being lead by the far left, and based on doubtful basic tenets, we virtually guarantee the right, and even moderte leftists (like myself) are going to feel disconnected from the cause. It's completely counter-productive.

So let's look at that speech again, and I'll reply to some of her "points"...

First, "This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean." Well you'll find a lot of people who will agree with you on that one! Maybe if you did go back to school and learned a few facts you might be able to produce a more reasoned argument. This is also the classic case of "look at the sacrifice I'm making on your behalf, what a hero I am!" Yeah, don't go to any further trouble on our behalf, thanks.

Then, "Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you!" I don't know anyone who has come to her for hope. The vast majority of the people want nothing from her, apart from maybe just to shut up! Again, this is part of the heroic sacrifice narrative these activists seem to employ. Who do they think they are kidding?

And, "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying." Well, not really. You are extremely privileged and have a great life. If you choose a life of political activism, blame yourself, or those who control you, not the world leaders.

And, "Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth." I do agree with some of this. Major ecosystem collapse is happening, and unlimited economic growth is a major cause of many of our issues today. But what is the alternative? Many states have tried other economic systems and they have all failed miserably. Maybe a more reasoned approach, like moderating the current system, would be more likely to achieve success.

Finally, "How dare you!" Well, considering that the world is less violent, far richer, more fair, safer, and better in almost every way we can imagine, than it has been in the past, I would say we dare because we are doing the best we can. Any utopian dreams of a clueless 16 year old will almost certainly make the world worse overall, not better. That's how we dare!

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