COMMENT:

Mike Hosking's latest effort "Hyperbole and hot air - Greta Thunberg's the new Jacinda" was a bit much, even for him.

It read as though he was trying to comfort himself with nonsense instead of fact - exactly what he's accusing Greta of doing, ironically enough.

"Kids telling off adults gets you nowhere," he writes as though it's a peer-reviewed scientific fact.

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My comeback comes from my childhood: "Says you!"

The Tank Man was a 19-year-old archaeology student called Wang Weilin. Look at Tiananmen Square and tell me which side of history was right.

I have more: Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan. Anne Frank from the Netherlands. Marjane Satrapi from Iran. Boyan Slat from the Netherlands. Hector Pieterson from South Africa. Joan of Arc from France.

Tank Man: A tank driving down a road near to Tiananmen Square is blocked by an unidentified man, the day after the massacre. Photo / Getty Images
Tank Man: A tank driving down a road near to Tiananmen Square is blocked by an unidentified man, the day after the massacre. Photo / Getty Images

Not to mention that there are more than a few adults on Thunberg's side.

I do empathise. Change is scary for everyone. We all have cause to be concerned, to ask questions, to debate.

"There is sadly no hiding the fact she suffers, like so many of her climate change lot, from a fantastic sense of self-entitlement. And it's that quality that damages the cause more than anything else."

Entitlement is an interesting theme. I think entitlement looks a little bit more like wanting to spend years on a polluting cruise in your old age and worrying you might not be able to. But that's just me. I'm not rich enough to hope the next 50 years are going to be comfortably business as usual as some poor people die in cyclones.

What a privilege to gamble with years that you won't live. What a privilege to say we'll be fine, when this will affect the poorest people in the world first. And what a privilege to condemn someone for sharing a view when that's what you do for a living.

Maybe Hosking is right. Maybe kids talking back to adults doesn't typically drive change.

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Greta Thunberg is a child, speaking for children, pleading for their lives.
Greta Thunberg is a child, speaking for children, pleading for their lives.

But this time it has to. This outrage is not only being screamed from the right side of history, it will determine everything. She is a child, speaking for children, pleading for their lives.

It isn't surprising, scientifically speaking, that some of us can't relate to Thunberg when she says her childhood had been stolen. Science suggests that the more comfortable you are financially, the less you can relate to those who are suffering.

I won't mince words; you are on the wrong side of history and you are wrong. I am so proud of my mother for participating in the anti-apartheid marches of the 1980s. Imagine if she had instead penned a widely-read article claiming the activists were "not old enough, or mature enough, to understand a number of life's simple lessons"? Shameful.

You can support a movement while at the same time remaining wary of the tactics in play. This will be the era of greenwashing, there will be many snake oil salesmen. We may even need a searing Hosking takedown from time to time.

If airlines can get their heads around global warming, so can broadcasters. Yes, life will change. In case you haven't noticed, society has already changed immeasurably from life only a century ago. For the silent generation this will only be the latest thing.

What could this look like? It's too soon to tell. The financialisation and privatisation of nature, global in scale, could mean big money. I think you know as well as I do that that means it has a shot.

We absolutely must look at limits on personal wealth, and we should not allow this critical issue to be sidelined by the challenge of "green capitalism", a possible misnomer. As long as we have billionaires in the world, the public should not lose their pensions over this.

The visionary teenager Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on May 20 1431, dying at about 19 years of age.

Oddly enough, that didn't halt her influence.