Ross Clark

The trouble with Greta Thunberg

The trouble with Greta Thunberg
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In popular mythology Greta Thunberg is a one-girl revolution who has inspired millions of young people into action by being able to see what adults refuse to see. But her promotion as global statesman is really a well-crafted piece of PR. Those on the Left who seek to use climate alarmism to further their war on global capitalism know full well that the likes of Robin Boardman-Pattison – the Bristol University graduate with a private education and fondness for foreign holidays, who stormed out of the Sky News studio when Adam Boulton accused him of being middle class – is a liability to their cause.

But allow Thunberg to speak for them by proxy and, well, who will dare criticise a 16-year-old girl with Asperger's? The success of this strategy can be seen on the Today programme. The BBC, which apologised for not challenging Lord Lawson in an interview on climate change, was nevertheless happy to give Thunberg the prime 8.10am interview slot. And not once did the normally inquisitorial Nick Robinson ask her an even slightly difficult question. It is not hard to imagine the mass outrage which would have followed had he dared to do so: middle-aged man bullying a schoolgirl and the like. As a result of Thunberg’s perceived untouchability, the climate alarmists have managed to promote their views in a way which would not have been possible had an adult spokesman of Extinction Rebellion been on the air – Nick Robinson’s interview with ER’s co-founder Gail Bradbrook, was actually rather robust.  

Sorry, but the fawning attitude towards Thunberg is not going to extend to me. If you are going to be given an international stage to call for a general strike, as Thunberg has done, you deserve to be challenged – whether you are 16 and wear pigtails or not. If the BBC, or anyone else, is going to offer a platform to Thunberg, these are the questions she needs to be asked:

1.  Do you really think it is possible to eliminate carbon emissions by 2025 – the target of Extinction Rebellion, whose aims you have endorsed – without crashing the global economy? That wouldn’t just mean the end of air travel, which you personally shun, it would mean the end of your favoured high speed rail travel, too. While great efforts have been made to switch to renewables, we do not yet even nearly have the technology to turn to a fully fossil-free world and to pretend that we do so is fanciful.

2. If governments are supposedly ignoring the science, how do you explain, then, that those same governments set up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) more than 30 years ago specifically to advise them on climate change – and have continued to seek its advice ever since, most recently asking it what would need to be done to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 celsius?

3. You want a general strike, but why do you think workers will want to join one when your demands would mean an end to many of their jobs? It is one thing for schoolchildren to go on strike – taking a day off is always very exciting for them. You might have a harder job convincing industrial workers whose jobs and living standards ultimately depend on the cheap source of energy which you want to take away. I know campaigners keep going on about ‘green jobs’ but it is no consolation creating 1,000 jobs in green energy, or whatever, if your unrealistic carbon reduction targets are going to destroy 100,000 jobs in heavy industry. How are you going to convince those employed in the latter to join your strike?

4. You have said that you think you can see the issues more clearly because you see things in black and white. But isn’t that the problem? There are great complexities in how to balance economic and environmental needs. The idea that the issue of climate change can be reduced to two choices – environmental destruction or purity – is nonsense. What we need to solve climate change is people who can see the issue in a rich spectrum of colours, not black and white, wouldn’t you say?