The Greta Thunberg circus has become a complete farce

Greta Thunberg

It’s a measure of where we’ve come to in public debate that I have thought more than twice about writing this piece.

The days of civilised debate, of accepting different opinions seem to be disappearing.

None of us likes being yelled at or chastised for our views.

The pleasure of exchanging opinions, exploring them and in the process better understanding or modifying our own is one of the hallmarks of a free society.

The Greta Thunberg circus has become a complete farce.

Travelling across oceans in emissions-free boats (excluding the making thereof) and doing one’s ablutions into a bucket lined with a biodegradable bag that then gets ditched into the ocean is first-world fake melodrama at its best.

If Thunberg wished to address any meeting worldwide on whatever issue she wanted without spewing carbon emissions from either jet or ocean liner travel she could easily do so: The New York Times reports that internationally famous choreographer Jerome Bell has decided to refuse air travel and now works internationally via Skype.

It’s a personal choice but I don’t think telling people they’ll never be forgiven, berating them with “how dare you”, does much to bring people on board.

Usually it has the opposite effect.

It’s just another sad example of serious and complex political issues being reduced to “I’m right and you’re an idiot”.

That kind of discourse just pollutes the town square.

It’s fractious and shuts others out. It is toxic to democratic debate.

The whole trip, the hype and the expense was one big media circus.

One can’t help but think it’s more to promote the person than the issue.

Given the over-dramatisation of global warming by some, including Thunberg, we now have a generation of children worried about being burnt to a crisp.

Out of all the 16-year-olds in the world, why is it that just one features in the media worldwide?

There are other kids who care as much, are just as articulate, just as concerned.

If you think the world focussing on this one young girl was just some happy accident you are plugged into a faulty socket.

I’ve seen the photo of her outside her school on her first climate strike.

Posed to draw on the haunting concept of the lonely outsider who (surprise, surprise) becomes the involuntary hero. Who took that photo and, more importantly, why?

Now we have kids all over the world skipping school for the day to show how much they care. I’d be more impressed if they gave up their free time to make their statement.

Even more impressive would be if they organised to collectively make a lasting statement by doing something useful.

If everyone who skipped school had planted a tree in pre-agreed areas that needed revegetating, that would have made an impressive statement.

If all the protesters focussed on a few areas, whole suburbs could be made better places in which to live.

All it would take is commitment and elbow grease.

Just skipping school gives you no skin in the game. Continue reading

  • Amanda Vanstone is an Australian former politician and a former Ambassador to Italy.
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