If you’ve been stuck in the bush for a few days without the internet or anything you may not have heard about Greta Thunberg and her speech to the UN. However if you’ve been following the climate change debate for some time you’ve probably heard of her.
Anyhow, her recent speech – which was quite passionate and dramatic – has sadly had a somewhat polarising effect on the populace. There are those such as Jamie Morton who see her as a hero advancing the climate cause; or Mike Hosking who view her as an off-putting brat full of “hyperbole and hot-air”; or Liam Dann who at least manages to espouse a more nuanced view of her impact.
I guess time will only tell whether she will, or won’t, make a long lasting impact on effective action being taken to address climate change. However, in the meantime, I’m not sure if the media attention she is garnering is having a positive effect and acting to bring people together on this issue. If anything, the way she comes across – in the media at least – seems to only entrench people in their already polarised opinions and fails to draw people of diverging views to a consensus.
My concern is in the way that she and the media portray the issue of climate change in isolation from it’s causation This is too often the case. Statements that climate change is “the single most existential threat humanity faces” miss the point and only serve to exacerbate the polarisation present between different groups.
I’ve banged on about this many times, but climate change is merely symptomatic of humanity’s over-sized footprint (in terms of population and consumption) in much the same way that top-soil degradation, aquifer depletion, fisheries collapse, urban-sprawl etc etc are also symptomatic of such. Only focusing on climate change, which is often difficult to see the immediate effects of, results in people denying it’s reality (or it’s causation) and failing to address the root cause.
Finding common ground with others by agreeing on at least some of the undeniable symptoms of human over-population and over-consumption is IMHO the only way to gain consensus and thus begin to address the twin causes of our ecological crises.