Image: Garry Knight/Flickr
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old environmental activist, made headlines at the recent United Nations climate summit. In a fiery speech, she berated the world’s governments for their persistent failure to curb climate change.
“How dare you steal my dreams and my childhood with your empty words?” she demanded.
Thunberg is one of the more prominent young activists who have taken to the streets to protest this political dereliction. While this latest feeble UN climate summit was being held, thousands of schoolchildren were staging protests in front of legislatures around the world. They waved placards demanding that governments finally get serious about averting an environmental catastrophe.
As I watched the demonstrations on my TV screen, I applauded these young people, but couldn’t suppress a doleful sigh and shake of my head. They are among the billions who suffer from a huge blind spot in their perception of the planet’s mounting malaise.
They are directing their wrath against the wrong perpetrators of climate change. It’s not the world’s governments; it’s the world’s big multinational corporations, to whom governments have become meekly subservient.
The planet is being polluted by air-borne and water-borne industrial waste — the detritus of the prevalent capitalist economic system. Its core operating function is based on the irrational assumption that infinite economic growth can be maintained indefinitely on a planet with finite natural resources.
Perpetuating a colossal myth
It’s a colossal myth that is being perpetuated because, without it — without unchecked global warming, depletion of natural resources, deforestation, wildlife extinction, air and water pollution — capitalism could not long survive. It’s eventually doomed, anyway, of course, if it’s permitted to keep demolishing the planet and most of its inhabitants. That permissiveness, however, can only be withdrawn by the world’s governments, which still show no sign of becoming the world’s saviours.
Political leaders, far from restraining corrosive corporate greed, lavish its CEOs and major investors with massive tax cuts and billion-dollar subsidies. Our governments’ blatant pretence to be sincerely concerned about Earth’s declining viability shouldn’t fool any intelligent person. MORE