Greta Thunberg Ethics

Aw, isn’t she cute! And she has advanced degrees in climate science and computer…no? She doesn’t? Then what the hell are we listening to her for?

Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg has set sail in a zero-emissions yacht for a two-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN’s climate summit. This is, of course, embarrassing and ridiculous for the U.N., and for adults everyone. Thunberg , who is 16,  founded the student climate-strike movement. As with Greta’s US equivalent, the Parkland anti-gun scold Parkland kids, Thunberg has nothing to recommend her as a legitimate authority on anything. She has multiple learning disabilities; she has no training in climate science or physics beyond what would be serviceable in a high school science fair. All she has is certitude, which is a hallmark of childhood and innocence as well as progressive, and a willingness to be exploited, sort of like Joan of Arc.

That’s not a bad comp, really. As Brendan O’Neill writes in Spiked,

Anyone who doubts that the green movement is morphing into a millenarian cult should take a close look at Greta Thunberg. This poor young woman increasingly looks and sounds like a cult member. The monotone voice. The look of apocalyptic dread in her eyes. The explicit talk of the coming great ‘fire’ that will punish us for our eco-sins. There is something chilling and positively pre-modern about Ms Thunberg. One can imagine her in a sparse wooden church in the Plymouth Colony in the 1600s warning parishioners of the hellfire that will rain upon them if they fail to give up their witches.

That’s about right, and climate change activism has been behaving increasingly cult-like over the years. A child- leader was probably inevitable. It is also damning, again like the anti-gun movement’s reliance on children. If you can’t win your argument with facts—remember, the issue in question isn’t whether the earth is currently warming, but rather for how long, at what pace, to what effect, and whether there is anything realistic that can or should be done about it—then pivot to emotion, fervor, and lovable messengers.

I wondered if someone else (other than me) had made the comparison between the climate change movement stooping to using children as spear points and the unethical practice of using kids as human shields, and finally checked today. Shoot, I wasn’t the first…but then again, it’s an easy analogy.

In the Guardian, apparently muddle-headed philsopher (but then, aren’t they all?) Julian Baggini showed how this works. He wrote to condemn  the appropriate criticism of Thunberg, which he regards as “morally bankrupt,”

Shooting the messenger is, of course, a tried and tested way of dealing with bad news. The case that the anthropogenic climate crisis is real and urgent is now so strong that it’s pretty much the only tactic left for those who refuse to accept it. Thunberg is a particularly tempting target. [One critic]  made much of the fact that she is “someone with disorders which intensify fears”. This is deeply reassuring for people who think anyone who is afraid for the future of the planet is overreacting. “Eco-anxiety” can be dismissed as a pathology rather than as a rational response to a growing emergency. Thunberg has become exhibit A for those like O’Neill who want to rebrand the environmental cause as “climate-change alarmism”. They see in Thunberg someone who makes this dismissive charge seem plausible. Why try to criticize thousands of sober, grownup scientists when you can have a go at a pig-tailed Young Turk instead?

That last sentence says is self-indicting. Why resort to a relatively ignorant teen if there are adult scientists who can make the case legitimately? That’s the problem with Greta. Whether she realizes it or not, she is a walking, talking, sailing, appeal to emotion, “Think of the Children!” in human form, and blissfully immune from being criticized for wasting our time and warping the debate.

Writes Baggini, who defends Greta while apparently realizes that her prominence in the climate change movement is a problem—except apparently only people like him can say so—

Making a young and idealistic teenager the figurehead of a movement makes it too easy to dismiss the campaign as a whole as naive and idealistic.

Ya think? Maybe that’s because the campaign as a whole is naive.

Indeed, the commentator Christopher Caldwell, who is supportive of the cause, worries that the rallying around Thunberg reflects a refusal to engage with complexity. “People have had enough of balance and perspective,” he wrote in the New York Times, “They want single-minded devotion to the task at hand.” That is exactly what Thunberg has come to represent.

No, that’s what she IS. Caldwell’s claim that the climate change activists have ever been interested in “balance and perspective” is risible. When was that, exactly? I seem to recall skeptics of models that had the Earth drowning and burning up decades ago being compared to Holocaust deniers. That’s perspective, all right.

Greta herself has become a master at the unethical technique of criticizing conduct while she’s engaging in it. (You know, like Democrats saying that President Trump is dividing the nation and threatening democracy.  Just an example for clarity…) Before shoving off to the UN, she said of world leaders such as Trump that “instead of speaking to me and the school-striking children and teenagers, they should be talking to actual scientists and experts in this area.”  Why are school children making demands of leaders if they understand that as kid, they aren’t worth arguing with? If they shouldn’t be talking to you, and they shouldn’t, since you couldn’t explain the assumptions in a climate change projection model if your life depended on it (and neither could I), why are you speaking to the U.N.?

In another interview, she told a German broadcaster, “I think there is a lot of focus on me as an individual and not on the climate itself I think we should focus more on the climate issue because this is not about me.”  Wait, it’s not your idea to make a grandstanding carbon-eschewing boat trip to the U.N.? If you don’t want people to make it about you, why are you making it about you?

And by the way, have you ever suggested to your jet-setting allies like Leonardo DiCaprio and Prince Andrew that they should be using yachts rather than private jets? Did I miss that?

Baginni writes, ” [T]he excessive zealotry of some of her supporters is a trifling fault compared to the egregious attacks by critics who would rather take her on than the inconvenient truths she brings.” What a stunningly dishonest sentence!  She has no “truths” to bring whatsoever. She is simply assuming that ideological cant that she has been programed to believe is true. O’Neill:

They have pumped her – and millions of other children – with the politics of fear. They have convinced the next generation that the planet is on the cusp of doom. They have injected dread into the youth. ‘I want you to panic’, said Ms Thunberg at Davos, and the billionaires and celebs and marauding NGOs that were in attendance all lapped it up. Because adult society loves nothing more than having its own fear and confusions obediently parroted back to it by teenagers.

Bingo. And Baggini is seriously arguing that a fake messenger who carries a message she doesn’t understand but has the audacity to promote should be immune from criticism.

We should recognize such child heralds as what they are, human engines of public policy debate manipulation  by unscrupulous and desperate activists. We should disregard and distrust any adults who give these children a forum or legitimacy. As for the child army of puppets like Thumberg, O’Neill has it right again…

Young people, Ms Thunberg isn’t your leader. She’s a patsy for scared and elitist adults. Don’t do as she says. Instead, refuse to panic, mock the blather about hellfire, and appreciate that mankind’s transformation of the planet has been a glorious thing that has expanded life expectancy, allowed billions to live in cities, and made it possible for even the less well-off to travel the globe. Sin against St Greta.

32 thoughts on “Greta Thunberg Ethics

  1. “Why try to criticize thousands of sober, grownup scientists when you can have a go at a pig-tailed Young Turk instead?”

    Does anyone know why she called her a “Young Turk” here? As in, the political movement responsible for slaughtering a million Armenians? Does that have some more innocent meaning?

      • Young Turk, definition (from ‘Phrases.org’):

        A young person, full of new ideas and impatient for change.

        What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Young turk’?

        The figurative expression ‘young turks’ meaning ‘the new breed, impatient for change’ began to be used in the early 20th century.

        William Safire, in The New Language of Politics: an anecdotal dictionary of catchwords, slogans, and political usage, 1968, referred to a group of US politicians who, in 1929, were called the ‘Young Turks’:

        These new Republican warriors were called the Young Turks, a band of about 20 who had mutinied against the feeble leadership of the Old Guard. For Senators they were young men (average age: 56).

        Safire also included a quotation, which states that Winston Churchill used the phrase during the Bermuda Conference of 1953. Churchill digressed from the agenda to discuss imperialism with Dwight Eisenhower, expressing his doubts about the wisdom of self-government for peoples not yet ready for it. When the American President disagreed with a portion of the Prime Minister’s argument, Churchill smiled and said:

        “You’re just like the Young Turks in my government.”

        Neither the US Senate of 1929 nor the British government of 1953 contained anyone of Turkish nationality, so where did the expression come from? It could hardly be simpler. Unusually for a figurative expression the meaning is literal; the first ‘young turks’ were exactly that – young Turks.

        Young Turk Selim III was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1789 to 1807. He made the first major attempts to modernize the army along European lines and to rejuvenate the Turkish empire. These reforms were supported by a band of youthful followers who favoured modernisation but opposed by the more conservative older generation. There are many newspaper reports from around that time that refer to the modernists as ‘young Turks’ in a purely literal sense, that is, they were young and they were Turkish. For example, this piece from The Salisbury and Winchester Journal, January 1828:

        The young Turks, of all classes, are exercising themselves in the use of arms in the European manner. The enthusiasm for the Sultan has risen to the highest pitch.

        This dispute rumbled on for over a century and eventually a Turkish nationalist party that supported the reformation of the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Empire was formed and started the Turkish revolution of 1908. It was led by The Three Pashas – Mehmed Talaat (aged 34 in 1908), Ismail Enver (27) and Ahmed Djemal (36), who were widely known as the ‘Young Turks’. Soon after that and, as we have seen above, as early as 1929, any group of people passionate for change became known as ‘young turks’.

        • “…eventually a Turkish nationalist party that supported the reformation of the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Empire was formed and started the Turkish revolution of 1908. It was led by The Three Pashas – Mehmed Talaat (aged 34 in 1908), Ismail Enver (27) and Ahmed Djemal (36), who were widely known as the ‘Young Turks’. Soon after that and, as we have seen above, as early as 1929, any group of people passionate for change became known as ‘young turks’.”

          They committed the Armenian Genocide, which directly inspired Hitler to take a similar approach towards Jews. It kinda blows my mind that multiple, educated Leftists are cool with this being a positive expression, considering how totalitarian they are about language generally. Imagine if “Nazi” were also slang for “young person hungry for positive social change.”

          “Those morally bankrupt conservatives just want to take shots at the innocent Nazi trying to change the world for the better.”

          • I only included that because I became interested in the origin of the term ‘Young Turk’. I know nothing of the Armenian Genocide except to have heard the term and what I just glossed on Wiki. Though I once met an Armenian ancient grandmother who said ‘The Turks are bad! It is their nature!’

            My understanding of the Hitlerian program is that it began as an expulsion. One of the dozens of major expulsions of Jews through the long tragic history of the Jewish diaspora. It was interesting for me, raised up in a more or less typical understanding of this event, to have come to understand that it began as a nationalist-inspired expulsion of the Rhineland diaspora Jewish community, not in its original intention as a pre-planned genocide, the term we use today somewhat loosely.

            In The Destruction of the European Jews (Raul Hilberg) he outlines this initial process in the first volume of the 3-volume study. The thing about it — the expulsion — is that laws had to be bent because, obviously, of the protections offered by law to citizens. Prior to the expulsion and during it there was a good deal of debate about if it was just and proper if a given people had the right to insist on their ‘ethnic purity’. These debates actually were taken up by theologians and, among some, it was agreed that a given people did have the right to defend their ethnic integrity and that of their ‘homeland’. It was argued through the Christian/Catholic understanding of ‘property right’. It is pretty straightforward and it has come to the fore again — in Europe — among those of religious community as they try to defend themselves against ‘ethnic invasion’ and the ‘importation’ of foreign populations into most parts of liberalized Europe.

            My thinking and musing, as you know, tends to go well beyond proper and ‘allowed’ limits and I often regard arriving at historical understanding as a rather brutal game I must play against people who have fixed and what I call *determined* interpretive opinion. In a sense you might say that I don’t believe anything and I have learned that all historical narratives serve the power-structures of those who hold them and inculcate them. Therefore, if I can recognize that a ‘dumbed-down America’ exists and is a real thing, I must suppose as a concomitant that the dumbed-down do not have genuine historical understanding but an obviously tendentious and power-serving historical view. See? This leads me into problematical and dangerous interpretive territory.

            I always try to make it a point to contextualize ‘what is happening now in our present’ into a wider and certainly unconventional interpretive structure. I can cite an excellent and a powerful example. Right now, today, among thousands and millions of questioning people, the events of 9/11 and the reaction and actions that followed these events represent a ‘core’ of speculative, interpretive activity. This is a kind of hermeneutics. That is a fancy word but a necessary one. People examine this event, which I will reduce to “two planes, three buildings” in order to indicate, ironically, that very much more went on there that narration and perception will allow. You see? To penetrate the *surface* involves one in a doubting frame of mind and one in which one requires different ‘hermeneutical tools’. The surface is a form of Lie, and this implies that in the understructure, in the depth, some truer truth resides and — importantly — can be seen, can be uncovered.

            [9/11 and the events that followed it have an encompassing imprint on ‘what is going on in our country’. Some have said: Solve the 9/11 mystery and you will solve the War on Terror. There are ‘laden implications’ in this which — so it seems to me — conventional and determined thinkers simply cannot face.]

            I have come to realize — and this has come about through my 5-6 years spent here [ ::: gulp ::: how is it possible that so much time has passed?!] — that everyone strives for *understanding* but no one seems to achieve it. Or, they arrive at ‘comfortable vistas’ which offer ‘self-satisfaction’. From a satisfied place no more, or little more, investigation is needed. You just bellow out your ‘understanding’ in the form of a mega-complaint and that’s that! That to me means ‘defective perspectives’ and ‘incorrect hermeneutical tools’ but it also means ‘spiritual weakness’. And, naturally, it also means being held (as in ‘captive’) by large, determined structures of view. Obviously, I get constantly into trouble because of my precocious approach to interpretation and then the trouble that comes from opposing some people’s ‘cherished notions’.

            This is an exceedingly dangerous, and treacherous, time:

            treachery (ˈtrɛtʃərɪ)
            n, pl -eries
            1. the act or an instance of wilful betrayal
            2. the disposition to betray
            [C13: from Old French trecherie, from trechier to cheat; compare trick]

            I think that many see this, in their way, but I am less certain that it is fully seen. This of course implies hermeneutical depth which is never gotten quick & easy but requires an almost spiritual commitment to oppose the structure of lies that rises up in us because of our complicity.

            No one has anything to say about this so I grow accustomed to ‘dynamic silence’! 🙂

        • Did you ever see the movie Walkabout? I saw it not long ago and heard this song in a very strange scene when the kid’s dad wants to murder them. They used a song from Rod Stewart there:

          I couldn’t hardly understand the lyrics till I researched the lyrics:

          I think I know now what’s making me sad
          It’s a yearnin’ for my own back yard
          I realize maybe I was wrong to leave
          Better swallow up my silly country pride

          Going home, running home
          Down to Gasoline Alley where I started from
          Going home, and I’m running home
          down to Gasoline Alley where I was born

  2. Even the positioning of the trip as carbon neutral is bogus.

    The relief crew bringing the boat back across the Atlantic is flying over. Next, let’s talk about the boat itself: it isn’t wood. The hull, the sails, the lines (ropes for you non-sailors) are all petroleum based. The hardware is metal – does anyone think that melts itself? And even if the power for the electronics are powered by solar and wind, you can’t just sail a boat like that into New York Harbor. There is either an on-board diesel engine (likely) or a tug will meet them.

    My guess is that they’re enjoying hot meals along the way. They’re not heating those up with solar power – unless they want to risk having the radar quit.

    The whole story is a fraud. And Thunberg IS a patsy. I feel sorry for the lass, but I fear that she’s going so far so young that she has no chance of recovery.

  3. This didn’t make me think about Joan of Arc, but the Children’s Crusade. You know when a mass of children sailed off to free the holy lands without a real understanding of the problems and planning required. I don’t think any even made it, they died or ended up in slavery.

    Does she have any idea how hard it is to survive in pre-1800 non-evil tech farming and transportation? I’d be more impressed if she gave up all conveniences and lived in a pocket of a simpler society. Maybe Laplander or Amish. Then pick out 7 of every ten people she knows to die when there isn’t enough food without the bounty in food and transportation. She is young, but no one in her family gave her a come to jesus speech about what everyone INCLUDING HER must give up for her demands. Add the minor fact that no one not in the highest 5% would be able to travel much further than they can walk in a day before trains.

    She is young and foolish. Her handlers and parents are evil manipulators,

    • Well, I note that one comment in that column was spot on: Remember that this was written in 2011 by Jack:

      “Now that it should be clear that the chances of the United States crippling its economy and sinking billions of dollars into measures designed to forestall a climate change disaster that is highly speculative and might not be stoppable anyway are less than Donald Trump’s chances of moving into the White House, the strategy of making “The Day After Tomorrow”-style “scientific projections” is getting more shrill and absurd. This is not only unethical, but reckless and counterproductive, because it makes global warming science less credible with every exaggerated claim.”

      We didn’t cripple our economy and he did move into the White House.

      Does that mean we can tell the climate hystericists to just go away now?

  4. The only people who can be teen activists are children of wealthy leftists. So this child is being used by wealthy leftists to tell poor impoverished people…especially poor impoverished people in developing nations that they should not do the kinds of things that allowed her parents to prosper.

    Let that sink in.

    • “Let them all sail YAHTS!”

      “Yahts are a Human Right!” at 1:36

      I swear. I can’t tell the difference between the news and The Onion anymore.

    • ”this child is being used by wealthy leftists to tell poor impoverished people…especially poor impoverished people in developing nations that they should not do the kinds of things that allowed her parents to prosper.”

      How many people globally (2…3 billion; more?) would give their eye-teeth to have one 50th the lifestyle she-n-hers enjoy; just access to entry level on demand energy would lift them above miserable subsistence.

      It gets worse.

      Berkeley National Laboratory: World On Pace To Install 700 Million More Air Conditioners By 2030/1.6 Billion By 2050

  5. Carbon Tax Credits…
    Modern Day Indulgences…
    You can absolve yourself of your sins by paying a tax…
    There is nothing new under the Sun….
    -Jut

  6. Never trust adults that use children as their body shields. This is just so wrong. I just learned of a Greta follower, Alexandria Villasenor of NYC, who is also skipping school on Fridays for climate change. I guess the parents of these kids’ ethics alarms melted away with the polar ice caps (Ha!). How does one go about denying their kid’s childhood by letting them engage in these quixotic exercises. These kids will grow up to be angry and bitter, filled with disappointment, resentment, and cynicism. I think i figured out how the Dems will take on the Reps in the future. Use children as puppets in any given debate, election, etc. When criticism is leveled, accuse your opponent of being against children and not thinking about them. It will even probably work for a short time. The Reps will start sweating. A new version of Mao’s Cultural Revolution and Little Red Book won’t be to far away.

  7. Watch how fast climate change alarmists change their tune if all profits arising out of renewables are taxed at 100% and only allowed to be applied to eliminating our 22 trillion dollar debt

  8. “Why resort to a relatively ignorant teen if there are adult scientists who can make the case legitimately? That’s the problem with Greta. Whether she realizes it or not, she is a walking, talking, sailing, appeal to emotion, “Think of the Children!” in human form, and blissfully immune from being criticized for wasting our time and warping the debate.”

    Another key reason the Left abuses children this way is because they have a built in repellent to criticism. All criticism is immediately converted into “wow, I can’t believe you’d pick on a little child like that, you sure are a bully”.

    If you ridicule the idiot adults that infantilize themselves by falling in line with the ‘crusade’, that is converted into an attack on the child.

    Cheap tactics to avoid true criticism.

    I wonder why they can’t stand on their own two feet?

  9. Children who become the face or spokesman for any cause are there for only one thing — appeals to emotion. None, not one, have anything substantial to offer the debate, be it climate, gun control, or what have you. All they have is emotion, the presumption of youthful innocence, and nothing else.

    Adults shamelessly use the children as “unassailable” pawns, because it’s real easy to attack someone pointing out the appeals to emotion of said children with — wait for it — an appeal to emotion attack! “Leave the kid alone, you evil bastard, she’s only speaking truth to power!” No she isn’t — she’s offering an opinion from a presumption of authority she has neither the education or experience to claim.

    It’s all very tautological. It is also unethical for kids to do this, and unethical for adults to do anything but remind the young folks their voices are worse than useless to the debate, because they have absolutely no substance whatever to offer. The old saw “Children should be seen and not heard” has never been more apt.

    • Yep dirty tricks, and you can’t even call them out on the double standard.

      “Don’t attack her! She’s just a child.”

      “Listen to the wise voice of this child! She’s so brave and powerful!”

      • From Quora: CO2 makes up only a tiny portion of the atmosphere (0.040%) and constitutes only 3.6% of the greenhouse effect. The atmospheric content of CO2 has increased only 0.008% since emissions began to soar after 1945.

        The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

        Drives me crazy. Plus the arrogance of climate believers on Facebook, etc. Ugh.

        • Not much interest in regulating neither the most prominent GHG (H2O vapor) nor the most heat-trapping (CH4).

          Why CO2…why…Why…WHY??

          Wouldn’t be because regulating the by-product of nearly all activity on Mother Gaia is a Statist’s wet-freakin’-dream, would it?

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