I have nothing at all against precocious children determined to save the world and draw our attention to catastrophic climate change. The boundless idealism of students is charming even if their simplistic solutions to everything is irritating in its impracticality. Even the eternal willingness to play truant from school (or life) is understandable and on some days, I am tempted to bunk the endless monotony of chores that await on a daily basis and join the global climate strikes.
However, doomsday prophets are another matter altogether. They all have lots in common - messianic zeal, self – righteous wrath, magnetic charisma, tend to advocate extreme courses of action and enjoy a rabid cult following who accept every impassioned word they utter to be the gospel truth. The seeds of panic and fear are sown and it spreads like a contagion, leading to a worldwide pandemic and epic upheavals which if history is any indication seldom leads to desirable outcomes. Damn it, now I am the one sounding like a panic monger and anxiety attack inducer. See what I mean about these things being infectious?
Greta Thunberg, the freshly minted, iconic climate – change activist’s passion and sincerity is compelling. However, I find it exasperating when she thunders that “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction” using her reach to convince children that they have no future unless world leaders along with the rest of the entire populace act immediately to avert the impending doom. “We have to focus every inch of our being on climate change… unprecedented change in all aspects of society need to have taken place within this coming decade.” Come on! I think we can all agree that neither we, the people nor those we have chosen to lead us are going to do anything of the sort.
All of us like our creature comforts too much to give it up. We find it convenient to fly, leave the air – conditioner on, take long showers, eat meat, and use every single technological advancement ever made to make our lives easier. If anybody suggests we give up our refrigerators, washing machines, microwaves, fancy cars, become vegan and revert to a simpler time/pre – industrial age, we are going to ignore them. Hard. However, to assuage the guilt, we might whip up a social media storm to express our support for eco – warriors and helpfully suggest that everybody else and the government do their utmost to combat climate change, deal with that stupid hole in the ozone layer, those melting glaciers, endangered species etc.
Still, the hopelessness of it all is hardly reason enough to give up hope. Children need not live in fear. The truth is that none of us can possibly know what tomorrow holds. What we do know is that we are living in a golden age of prosperity and scientific advances. Alternate sources of energy are being explored and with time, there is reason to believe there will be positive change. And even if the worst were to happen, odds are we will find a way to live in a post – apocalyptic world and use the pieces to build an even better one. In the end, like the cockroach, we will endure even if we don’t overcome, and find a way to blunder on the way we always have.
This articles was originally published in The New Indian Express.