'Greta': A young activist's moment, praised and criticized (copy)

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg, of Sweden, addresses the Climate Action Summit in the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters Sept. 23.

As kids in the late ‘60s, we learned about the environmental crisis through a little ditty in elementary school called “Don’t Put Your Feet in the Lemonade (We’re Runnin’ Short of Water!)”

It was then the indoctrination began in earnest, drawing attention to the impending doom of droughts.

About 50 years later, 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg took the podium at the United Nations, issuing a strong rebuke to the world and condemning all generations for ruining her childhood.

She crosses the globe seeking audiences to shame her elders into guilt about global warming. Her Sept. 23 appearance in New York wasn’t her first foray. On Dec. 15, 2018, she addressed the U.N. Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Poland. On April 16, she addressed European Union leaders in Strasbourg, among other venues.

How does a 16-year-old get gigs like this? She assails adults for keeping her from attending school. Are we to parade every teenager on the planet out for their two cents?

It’s not my intent to criticize the youngster for sharing her opinion. It’s obvious she has been well coached on her commentary. Much like young David Hogg, the poster boy for anti-gun youth, these youngsters are trotted out for their vulnerability, seeking to evoke an emotional response from empathetic adults.

We appreciate kids willing to make their voices heard. Willing to take a stand. It also is important to put information or opinion into context. While Thunberg may be passionate about what she perceives to be the evils invoked by human activities, it’s also clear she doesn’t understand how the world works.

What is it today: climate change, global warming, or is there a new doomsday catchphrase on the horizon? It’s not that skeptics of the rhetoric completely deny man’s impact on the environment. We all need to be kind to the planet. “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” “Pick up after yourself.” “Respect nature, and its beauty.” The challenge for many becomes when the false rhetoric claims we need to abandon all freedom in favor of government-controlled allocation of resources, like the Green New Deal.

Instead, we can pursue the worst pollution offenders. A July 1, 2018, Forbes story shows China as the largest producer of greenhouse gases, more than the U.S. and E.U. combined. Some seem not to realize carbon dioxide is critical for the plant world, it’s viewed as toxic. An Earthday.org story on April 6, 2018, showed China tosses more than 30 times more plastic garbage into the oceans than the U.S., and several Asian countries lacking fundamental liberties are close behind China. Yet little international pressure is applied to the Chinese.

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My continual question to climate change advocates is the same. What percentage of “climate change” is man-made? Please be specific, it requires a scientific response. How much will the climate change in 25 years? If you want me to buy into the agenda, be specific. The truth is no one knows. We’ve been down this road many times before with doomsday predictions.

Competitive Enterprise Institute put together a brief list Sept. 18 of some of the wildest apocalyptic climate predictions over the past 50 years. A Boston Globe story April 16, 1970, stated “Air pollution may obliterate the sun and cause a new ice age in the first third of the new century.”

The 1980s brought acid rain. Remember acid rain? The hole in the ozone? Whatever became of those perils of humankind? A 2004 United Kingdom Guardian story stated Britain would have a Siberian climate by 2020. Much to Al Gore’s dismay, the Arctic ice isn’t gone.

One favorite was in the New York Times, Aug. 10, 1969, where population biologist Paul Erlich said, “We must realize that unless we are extremely lucky, everybody will disappear in a cloud of blue steam in 20 years.” Fifty years, no blue steam.

The Sept. 25 Baraboo News Republic had a graphic showing progression of leaf viewing across the state as autumn weather takes over. Accompanying was a graphic showing the average October temperatures in the U.S. since 1900. With no agenda, it was easy to see the graphic was essentially flat in the long run, with little change in the past 120 years. Where is the doomsday climate scenario in that story?

It’s an attempt to own every outcome as “climate change.” Fewer hurricanes? Climate change. More hurricanes? Climate change. Record highs? Climate change. Record lows? Climate change.

While it’s critically important for us to be environmentally conscious inhabitants of the planet, it doesn’t advance the scientific discussion to continue peddling doomsday scenarios. Just don’t step in the lemonade.

Editor’s note: This column was changed Sept. 7 to correct statements about Greta Thunberg’s methods of travel.

Scott Frostman lives in Baraboo and has roots throughout Wisconsin. He believes anyone can make a difference and can be reached at scfrostman@gmail.com.

(1) comment

Jack Barth

I guess the “scientific discussion” in this case would be whether or not you believe in science. Scott Frostman seems to take the word of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (look them up) over the consensus of climate scientists.

Welcome to the discussion.

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