Sailing close to the wind
Is Greta Thunberg a Good Thing? The answer to this question may rely on what media you consume. Guardian readers would probably say ‘yes’ whilst many readers of Murdoch’s press in Australia, the world’s biggest exporter of coal might say ‘no.’ My view is a bit of both. On the one hand she is asking the question many complacent politicians fail to answer when they mouth platitudes about ‘our children and our children’s children’s future,’ as if this makes them sound sincere. They care less about these unknown future generations than their current status, if one judges by deeds not words. Thunberg has put the spotlight on the generation that will face the climate change crisis in its fullness.
On the other hand, her trip to the U.S. in a carbon emissions free sailing boat sets what seems like an unobtainable goal for the vast majority of people. Another long used epithet favoured by politicians (particularly amongst underachieving politicians) is ‘don’t let the perfect drive out the good.’ In terms of climate change, I no longer believe there is a ‘perfect’ solution, since feedback mechanisms may already have reached a tipping point, and what humans started nature will finish to its own design. Greta’s trip, worthy in the extreme, sadly does not set a precedent many—or indeed any – others will follow, and the temptation therefore is that her role model status will be as easily replicable as the divine life of the ever-perfect Jesus. But then maybe I assuming too much, perhaps she is not saying ‘look at me, if I can do this so can you.’
So far as carbon-free crossings of the Atlantic are concerned we should take a leaf out of our ancestors' book and rediscover the merits of going with the wind—they still did it 150 years ago. It may take longer than with fossil fuelled transport, but with other new technologies probably not as long as before. As regards air travel, bring back dirigibles—clothed in solar energy generating textiles. Yes, still a longer journey time than a 747, but within reason. As for other contact with distant shores there’s always Skype or some such technology which permits extensive conferencing, if not drinks receptions during that essential process known as ‘networking.’ I am sure a substitute could be found.
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