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I believe that children are our future

By Kyran O’Dwyer  

Children evoke emotions such as compassion and sympathy unlike most demographics, because they are, by the accident of their birth, predisposed to their parent’s circumstances. They are advantaged or, more often, disadvantaged by nothing other than their ‘original sin’ – being born into particular circumstances.

Our children are vulnerable, hostages to a future they have no say in, a future already mortgaged to the hilt by the actions of their predecessors – us, the ‘adults’. We not only give them a ‘shit sandwich’, but we insist they call it ‘foie gras’ – and be grateful. We are, after all, a product of our parents; ‘Baby Boomers’, ‘Gen X’ers’, or early achievers from the ‘Gen Y’ cohort.

Does anyone know why ‘Baby Boomers’ aren’t called ‘Generation W’?

Does anyone know what we called ‘Generation W’s’ predecessors?

Does anyone know what comes after Generation Z? “There is no precise date for when Generation Z begins, but demographers and researchers typically use the early-1990s to mid-2000s as starting birth years.

Assuming it’s an alphabetic progression, do we reset to ‘Generation A’? Is it symbolic or prophetic that we don’t have a label, or that finding a label requires a departure from convention? We do so love our labels. Young – old, male – female, black – white, rich – poor, left – right, conservative – progressive. Etcetera.

In any event, Gen Z and their successors, our children, are going on strike on Friday, and we are all invited.

“So, on March 15, we’re walking out of school & you’re invited!

We’re striking to tell our politicians to take all of us seriously and treat climate change for what it is: a crisis and the biggest threat to our generation & generations to come.

We won’t be alone. Tens of thousands of students across Australia and around the world will join us. If you’re an adult, we hope you’ll take the day off in solidarity with us too. There has never been a more urgent time to demand the climate action we all deserve.”

There are so many issues and dynamics, from the miniscule to the momentous, tied up in that simple declaration. Our children are reminding us that we are all human and that the labels are an ‘adult’ diversion or distraction.

Obviously, the issue of climate change and the urgent need for action is central and critical to the protest, as climate change is the greatest threat to our environment since the last extinction.

One could well argue that we are now well on our way to the next extinction, if you accept the definition as posed on the ever helpful Wikipedia:

“An extinction event (also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis) is a widespread and rapid decrease in the biodiversity on Earth. Such an event is identified by a sharp change in the diversity and abundance of multicellular organisms. It occurs when the rate of extinction increases with respect to the rate of speciation.”

The urgency was stressed by Australia’s very own Jiminy Cricket, our collective conscience on so many issues – ‘First Dog on the Moon’ – on the 15th February, when he declared:

“This is literally the biggest news story in the world – IT SHOULD BE THE FRONT PAGE OF ALL YOUR IDIOTIC HUMAN NEWS EXTRUDERS ON EARTH EVERY DAY. This is your state of emergency …”

He was referencing an article from the 10th February, 2019, posted in The Guardian, which came and went without comment by ANY of our leaders, regarding plummeting insect numbers.

The significance of the article was that it drew together scientific research that associated our way of living; our rampant consumerism; our destructive, inefficient and wasteful agricultural production; our economy; and our complete disregard for our environment.

“The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.”

Whilst few like those nasty little bitey thingys, they are an integral part in the food chain. It makes sense that their impending extinction rates would be followed by any species reliant on them as a food source. The mammals, birds and reptiles, will be the next groups increasingly impacted.

“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”

In medical parlance, any good doctor would look to establish if this is the disease itself or just a symptom of a far greater malady.

“The main cause of the decline is agricultural intensification,” Sánchez-Bayo said. “That means the elimination of all trees and shrubs that normally surround the fields, so there are plain, bare fields that are treated with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.” He said the demise of insects appears to have started at the dawn of the 20th century, accelerated during the 1950s and 1960s and reached “alarming proportions” over the last two decades.”

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals lists as ‘Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts’:

“Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow. Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, weather events are becoming more extreme and greenhouse gas emissions are now at their highest levels in history. Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is likely to surpass 3 degrees centigrade this century. The poorest and most vulnerable people are being affected the most.”

It’s all rather terrifying, in the literal sense of the word. Climate change – like terrorists, criminals, ‘rogue’ corporations and other man-made scourges – has no regard for borders, rules or conventions. It is worth noting that, like most things, the poor and vulnerable (and, exponentially, their children) will be disproportionately affected, although the wealthy and privileged aren’t impervious.

“Climate change, however, is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.”

How odd it is, though, that ‘terrorism’ is the only issue that our governments – globally – claim to have any mandate or inclination to address. Even though they can’t agree on a universal definition of what, exactly, terrorism is (other than an increasingly obvious and inconsequential distraction to garner fear and division – the tools in trade of governments everywhere). It is also worth mention that, should they contrive a universally accepted definition of terrorism, they will likely be amongst the first to be convicted of any ensuing crimes.

“terrorism

NOUN

the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”

There are numerous websites on terrorism, one of which, Our World in Data, stipulates:

“Terrorism is usually understood as the use or threat of violence to further a political cause. There is no universally agreed definition of terrorism making it a difficult object to quantify.”

There are many stats, facts and graphs in that link, one of which demonstrates the actual deaths caused by this global menace are in decline. This is evidenced by figures of 44,490 deaths, globally, which were attributed to terrorism in 2014 (the highest figure ever), down to 26,445 in 2017. How much of this ‘success’ was due to the ‘War on Terror’, which governments subscribe to, is unknown. A look at the effectiveness of terrorism would suggest that the idiots who subscribe to this idiocy kill themselves off and have trouble ‘recruiting’ new idiots. It would be a heck of a job ad, ‘Join us today, you’ll have a blast and the benefits are out of this world’. The indiscriminate loss of life of innocents, non-combatants, civilians, inflicted by both sides is not even recorded, such is the disregard for ‘collateral damage’. And, again, the poor and vulnerable (and, exponentially, their children) are disproportionately affected, although the wealthy and strong aren’t impervious.

“With respect to the question of effectiveness, there are two opposing views in the literature. The first posits that terrorists are able to influence policy and public opinion and that terrorism is increasing worldwide simply because it is effective. The second view argues that terrorists hardly ever achieve their main objectives and that terrorist groups tend to be unstable and disintegrate over time.”

Naturally, if our governments would stop talking about these largely inconsequential idiots, it would deprive them of their main weapon – terror. It is also notable that our current PM, who says he’s a brick wall to people smugglers and terrorists alike, claimed his first terrorism success days after getting his new job, when he conflated a disgruntled employee’s actions, a victim of unscrupulous business behaviour and abuse, with ‘eco-terrorism’, and ramped up penalties for the abused, whilst extolling the virtues of the abuser. That he is oblivious to the persecution of workers through sham and scam employment practices, most often perpetrated against the weakest and most vulnerable of our communities, is a disgrace. That MSM have largely perpetuated and aggrandised his lunacy is an indictment on them, reflected in their rapidly diminishing influence.

As for ‘Chicken Little’ Scummo, his quest for the next ‘acorn’, which he will gladly throw at his own brick head, is on in earnest. It should be noted that the ‘Chicken Little’ parable – a children’s story – is 25 centuries old, first presented as ‘Henny Penny’:

“The moral to be drawn changes, depending on the version. Where there is a “happy ending”, the moral is not to be a “Chicken” but to have courage. In other versions where the birds are eaten by the fox, the fable is interpreted as a warning not to believe everything one is told.”

Our children will go on strike this week to try and refocus the hysteria of a lunatic adult – more an example of the decapitated fowl, running dead on nervous reaction in ever decreasing circles – to real and present danger, an objective that, however laudable, is doomed to failure.

“The name “Chicken Little” — and the fable’s central phrase, The sky is falling! — have been applied to people accused of being unreasonably afraid, or those trying to incite an unreasonable fear in those around them.”

You cannot appeal to the reason of the unreasonable. It is no surprise that, in the American manifestation, it is a Walt Disney war propaganda effort, such is the dated thinking of this imbecile.

It tells a variant of the parable in which Foxy Loxy takes the advice of a book on psychology (on the original 1943 cut, it is Mein Kampf) by striking the least intelligent first. Dim-witted Chicken Little is convinced by him that the sky is falling and whips the farmyard into mass hysteria, which the unscrupulous fox manipulates for his own benefit. The dark comedy is used as an allegory for the idea that fear-mongering weakens the war effort and costs lives.”

If you look at the figures for terrorist incidents by country, you will struggle to find Australia getting a mention. That is allowing for a very loose description of terrorism, as provided by the ‘Global Terrorism Database’.

“The GTD defines a terrorist attack as “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non‐state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.”

That is an important distinction when evaluating Chicken Little Scummo. He not only threatens the use of illegal force and violence, he knowingly participates, with the draconian abuse of asylum seekers, our First People and anyone even vaguely reliant on government assistance, to name but a few of the vulnerable. That he is part of a cabal of governments that frequently engage in acts against independent states and countries is sanctioned only by the exclusion of ‘state actors’ in the definition of the idiotic barbarity of terrorism.

Without wishing to be unduly maudlin, the ‘causes of death’ as listed by ‘Our World in Data’, is a veritable treasure trove of facts, as opposed to Chicken Little Scummo’s hysterical assertions of harmful acorns. The statistics aren’t specifically related to climate change or the environment, but they do categorise many causes of death that can be attributed to the environment. For that reason, I’ll leave any comment to the readers own interpretation of the facts.

“At a global level we see that the majority of deaths are attributed to the category of non-communicable diseases (NCDs); these are chronic, long-term illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases (including stroke), respiratory disease, cancers and diabetes.  Collectively NCDs account for more than 70 percent of global deaths.” (39.53 million people)

“Injuries include accidents, road accidents, homicides and conflict, terrorism, drowning, fire-related accidents, natural disasters and self-harm/suicide.” (4.61 million people)

There are many components in all three categories that are subject to the changing environment and the extent to which they are interrelated is best left to personal interpretation, in the absence of scientific evaluation. Even ‘Communicable Diseases’ (10.56 million people), which includes nutritional disease. How many of the NCD’s may or may not be attributed to the environment is difficult to ascertain, in that it includes Respiratory and Lower respiratory disease; Malnutrition; Indoor and Outdoor air pollution; Diet; Unsafe water sources; Sanitation; etcetera. These are not studied from that perspective, so representation of them in that fashion would be disingenuous in the extreme. Likewise, the link on ‘Natural Disasters’ needs to be interpreted carefully.

It does not cross reference the frequency and severity of the ‘events’, nor their underlying causes. And, again, what is inextricably linked is the exposure, vulnerability and susceptibility of the poor, either as individuals or countries, to the environment. And, exponentially, their children.

“The contribution of specific risk factors varies significantly by country. For most high-income countries, the dominant risk factors are those related to healthy diets, smoking and alcohol intake. Other risk factors such as clean water, sanitation, and child wasting or stunting are very low. In low-income countries the inverse is true: in Sierra Leone for example, the top risk factors include child wasting, household air pollution, unsafe water source, poor sanitation, and no access to handwashing facilities.”

It is that aspect that urges the social reforms that have been pursued for millennia as an imperative that is as urgent as is the action needed to be taken on the environment. The two issues cannot be separated, as addressing one is part of the solution to the other.

As reported in The Guardian in October, 2018, the window is closing:

“The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on Monday say urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris Agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.”

Urgent action is required and it stands to reason that the longer the action is delayed, the more severe the action will need to be. Thankfully, those disagreeing with the premise, whilst becoming more shrill, are increasingly being ignored.

After all the huffing and puffing, we are told by our leaders the impediment to change is the economy, that taking the requisite action would cause too much damage to our economy and it would, therefore, be economically unsustainable. Of all things, unsustainability is their argument! The breathtaking stupidity and hypocrisy of this argument is best addressed by asking ‘what economy works in a morgue, or a cemetery, or (more aptly) a crematorium?’

For the sake of the exercise, making reference to the relationship between our leaders and the corporations that benefit from the lack of action has been avoided, lest the suggestion that short term greed, corruption and naked ambition are the cause of their distraction, or wilful inaction. There are increasing calls for accountability and transparency, given the woeful inadequacy of ‘the system’. That is a conversation for another day, although it will have to be had.

That is a long winded explanation of just one of the dynamics in the declaration by our youth, asking for our support in their struggle. The intention was to show that this demonstration is not for the benefit of our governments, to goad them into action. They are so far beyond reasoning with that any appeal to them is simply a waste of valuable time and resources, as they increasingly, hysterically fixate on the irrelevant. These demonstrations, like Occupy, Black Lives Matter, MeToo, the previous global protests about our climate and our governments’ incessant wars, are doomed to failure if their intent is to encourage the incorrigible.

These demonstrations may have some sway with ‘opposition parties’ across the planet, giving them some encouragement, if not courage, to challenge the status quo before it’s too late. Even this scenario is overly optimistic, as there is no ‘political appetite’ to support ‘radical behaviour’ from opposition benches. The MSM complicity will likely see any such action through the prism of ‘politics’, portraying supporters and proponents alike as deranged lunatics, or economic vandals.

Where these demonstrations will have value is re-awakening the sleeping giant. Us. The adults who have spent centuries whingeing and bleating to those causing the abuses to stop the abuses. The need is demonstrably urgent. The means are within our grasp, however belated the resultant action is.

The Australian demonstrations will be a litmus test for change due to the coincidence of the federal election due in the next few months. How many candidates will join this protest and declare their commitment to fundamental change remains to be seen. What will be evident to any voter, a coterie that excludes the children who are demanding our attention, is that any candidate who isn’t participating is declaring they are as irrelevant as the imbeciles currently stalking our ‘hallowed halls’.

The other ‘dynamics’ involved in the challenge posed by our youth are well worth a look. But, for now, you are either ‘in’ or ‘out’. There is no fence to sit on.

Each and every one of us gets to decide this Friday whether our day will be yet another day of the same old same old, or the day we stand with our youth and let each other know that this is not only necessary, but urgent. There is much talk of globalisation, generally through the promotion of the concept when it benefits our governments and our corporations. This is a time to remind them, and each other, that the global village is characterised by people, not buildings or property. As the African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It is timely and appropriate that our children are thinking globally of their village, and acting locally to stop it being razed to the ground.

If you can’t be a part of the demonstration, you can show your support through one of the many petitions in circulation, such as the “Support the School Strike for Climate Action” on change.org.

So, on March 15, we’re walking out of school & you’re invited!

We’re striking to tell our politicians to take all of us seriously and treat climate change for what it is: a crisis and the biggest threat to our generation & generations to come.

We won’t be alone. Tens of thousands of students across Australia and around the world will join us. If you’re an adult, we hope you’ll take the day off in solidarity with us too. There has never been a more urgent time to demand the climate action we all deserve.”

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16 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    Kyran, that is the most long winded example of saying the deliciously simple: “If you want a healthy future get out and support your kids at the School Strike for Climate Action demonstration on 15 March 2019”.

  2. Michael Taylor

    Until I read this post I wasn’t aware that we could march with these kids.

    Carol and I will be there.

  3. Phil.

    My children and grandchildren are Greens. Green behind the ears a little but Greens none the less.

  4. Christina Heath

    Michael Taylor. The schoolstrike4climate.com petition and facebook page has been promoting their student activities and inviting adults to join them for weeks. Political parties, particularly Labor and the Greens have been supporting and promoting them, encouraging people to march, as well as Climate action groups.

  5. Michael Taylor

    Christina, if you knew what sort of fortnight I’ve had then you’d understand why I knew nought of it.

  6. Florence Howarth

    I believe the future belongs to the children. We have had our time. I like seeing the children speaking up telling us to get our act together.

    They will be stuck with the mess we leave. Much of it when it comes to hard done by carbon emissions can’t be reversed.

  7. Phil.

    ‘I believe the future belongs to the children. We have had our time. I like seeing the children speaking up telling us to get our act together. ‘

    Amen to that.

  8. Jon Chesterson

    So very well spoken Kyran – Words of wisdom and already I think our children are wiser than their parents. All in I am!

    The ultimate truism of course, or truth depending on your mood or perspective – there is no future without our children, just as there no jobs or lives on a dead planet.

  9. Alcibiades

    From the mouths of babes …

    Childrens voices one would gladly listen to on any subject of policy.

    They are innocents, uncorrupted, and speak from the heart, with often open honesty, wisdom, compassion and insight far beyond their years.

    Further, they have not yet learnt the dark arts, with exceptions, of being able to spin complex lies & bullshit & verbal diarrhea ad nauseum.

    The future is theirs, to inherent, for better or worse. Who has more right to speak to it than they ?

    Our supposed ‘leaders’, self-serving, corrupt, unethical, unprincipled, compromised & beholden, I hold in collective utter contempt.

    PS New England Cocky, yup.

  10. paul walter

    A good article but my computer has been playing up, so I’ll just say I enjoyed the article.

  11. wam

    Spot on christina
    if today doesn’t listen to the young
    tomorrow they will be us.

  12. Kronomex

    Go for it Gladys, you show those students that they aren’t allowed anything that resembles democracy. Jumped up little upstarts! The next thing you know is that they might start protesting about other matters that are important to them and causing all sorts of problems. You put them in their place Gladys, teach them who knows what’s best for them.

    https://www.smh.com.au/nsw-election-2019/appalling-berejikilan-slams-labor-s-support-of-striking-students-20190313-p513yh.html

  13. John Lord

    If I were well enough I would be on the train to Melbourne early tomorrow morning.

    “Thank goodness my children in the early stage of their development acquired independent minds. This rendered any attempt by me at indoctrination of any sort futile. Teach you children how to think. Not what to think”

    Get out of school and protest. Put our politicians to shame.

  14. DrakeN

    Thank you, Kyran for this article.
    You speak for me, too.
    If we are unble to listen to fresh viewpoints and evaluate them on their merits, then there is no hope for the future.

    “The Price of Progress is the Pain of Change”.

  15. Kronomex

    And now we have this vile and horrible object…

    “”A lot of these students are barely literate or numerate. “I think it’s absurd.””
    “”It’s all very well to be politically correct, but there’s no rationality or reason behind it that stands up,” he said, adding that students should protest on the weekend so they didn’t miss school.”

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-14/politically-correct-teaching-to-blame-for-climate-change-strike/10897682

    ..who is a “education expert” spouting off. Wanker!

  16. Aortic

    Just read it Kronomex and my mouth is still agape. Which is a shame as I am trying to finish my third gin and tonic. This old fart, an ” education expert” apparently ( Jesus I cringe when I see or hear the word expert) does not appreciate these kids are going to inherit the world us oldies have left them. How will they judge us if they look back on the greed and avarice of our western so called civilisation leaving them to deal with a devastated potentially unliveable world. Still being a Catholic Dr Donnelly no doubt will put his faith in future Popes to rescue them all or as President Reagans environment adviser said not to worry about the environment as Jesus would be returning before it became a problem. As Bill Maher said, ” what’s he waitin for? “

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