Dear Greta Thunberg,
It’s one thing organising mass protests of children during their school holidays, and delighting in jamming up major cities, but why don’t you initiate some grass roots action to reduce carbon emissions internationally? How about instigating some simple practical changes, all involving positive adjustments to lifestyle, which will enable young people, students, school teachers and academics across the developed world to lead us back from the brink of global warming. The impact of these changes would be immediate, because you won’t have to wait on politicians to take action. All you need do, Greta, is use your international social media network to get young people to bring in the following:
# Schools and universities should be made to convert to chalk, blackboards, pencils, exercise books, paper documents, filing cabinets, card indexes and hardcopy books.
# Schools and universities should use electrical power only for light, heating, and important scientific work, while non-essential car use by students and staff must halt. All students and staff should travel to and from school or university by only foot, bicycle, or public transport.
# All young peoples, teachers and academics should give up their smartphones and personal computers, and not needlessly expend climate-threatening carbon on electricity for texting, checking Facebook, gaming, and gratuitous internet usage.
Greta, the world needs young climate change warriors like you to show us, through principled example, how to lead responsible low-carbon lives. For instance, why not point out to all those hundreds of thousands of school students you influence that, individually, their expecting to be driven to and from school each day is so selfish, and toxic, if the planet is at risk? Besides, walking to and from school has immense health and fitness benefits for all children. So not being driven to school is a win-win situation!
Many children will balk at the list. But none of these lifestyle changes is impossible. It is how life was led when I was young and during my early adult years. When I grew up we didn’t have the high-energy, carbon generating lives common among young people now. Indeed, we would have been shocked at today’s youth lifestyles, and how you passively accept the prevalence of wasteful indulgences like week-long jet-setting “schoolies” parties in Bali, where seemingly normal teenagers abruptly go on excessive rampages, getting into drunken fights, sexually assaulting/raping each other, vandalising private and public property, and downing lethal cocktails of drugs brewed up in home garages. When I was a teenager that was how sordid yobbos in footy teams behaved after Grand Final week, not self respecting high school students with firm moral principles. You really walked the walk, not just mouthed the talk.
Anyway, whenever I now hear a young person getting agitated about possible climate change and declaring an urgent need for us all to behave ethically, I repeat to them the above set of points, and then suggest the person changes their way of life accordingly to help save the world. After all, morality surely entails everyone taking personal responsibility for their own wasteful ways. Most get angry and rather affronted at my suggestion, but it strikes me a genuinely ethical individual would be prepared to stomach these small changes, especially how, incrimentally, they would help reduce the carbon emissions people are so anxious about.
So Greta, if you are really committed to change, these sacrifices are necessary. I do think you ought to lead by example and get your international legion of young followers to change their own lives, and rethink their own highly wasteful, energy guzzling, carbon emitting ways. Do they really have to spend endless hours each day doing things like texting or gaming? Mightn’t they at least ration their energy usage?
We used to say when I was a teenager, if you wish to change the world for the better, then you must start by changing yourself. It’s an outlook I’ve always stuck to, and its helped keep my life on balance. Why don’t you try it, too?
Yours in Zen,