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What’s the matter with kids today?

Other than in the headline I have managed not to use the word “kids”. I tried not to do so because it would insult the adult behaviour shown by them during the Climate Strike. Frankly, I don’t give a flying pig if they stayed away from school to give their protest its full weight.

I conducted a focus group three years ago as part of research I was doing for an article about teaching politics in school. The group of year 11 and 12 girls and boys at our local Catholic college showed average knowledge of the workings of politics (exactly what I expected) but their knowledge of issues was excellent.

“What do we want? Climate action. When do we want it? Now.”

I watched the Minister for Social Services, Dan Tehan on ABC News 24 last Friday morning. In typical LNP “we know best” fashion he was telling young adults to attend school and let people like him decide what is best for their future.

The thought that we should teach our children how to think and not what to popped into my head as l contemplated the sheer intellectual inadequacy of MPs like Tehan.

An enlightened democratic society should applaud its system of education if that system produces young adults so thoughtful as to the future of their global home and wanting to protest about it.

Further, given that politicians on Tehan‘s side of the political divide have so coldly admitted using the subject purely for political gain it’s difficult to take them seriously.

Of course, I’m referring to Tony Abbott and others who over the past decade has treated climate change as some sort of political plaything.

These young people are to be commended for conveying their thoughts for the survival of the planet so effectively

Given how flippantly Tehran’s right-wing government has treated this world problem, my view is that they just should shut their collective traps and listen to the wisdom of the young.

The television coverage showed these young folk of various ages exercising their democratic right to peacefully and lawfully protest.

A protest they thought important enough to take time away from their education.

“What do we want? Climate action. When do we want it? Now.”

They shouted their slogans with the typical robustness of youth as they marched to the home of the Victorian state parliament.

Some were accompanied by their parents, shouting the message in unison with their offspring.

For those of us who understand the implications of climate change and those who don’t but defer their knowledge to science, which guides them, it was a wonder to see.

Adults would be gullible to think that their offspring don’t give climate change any thought, how it happens and who is responsible. They discuss it in class; watch its worldwide effects on television; and talk about it with their friends.

Those who are just starting life’s journey are more apt to worry about it than those who are coming to its end.

Some parents had a flush of moisture around their eyes so moving seemed the protest. These young adults were very much aware of the consequences of doing nothing and just who is responsible.

300,000 registered to vote when it was a requirement to participate in the marriage equality survey. Who does the prime minister think they will vote for in the coming election?

They know that the current generation has utterly failed the next and they are not afraid to say so.

The message of the last protest was the same as the last and will be again if one is held before the next election.

“What do we want? Climate action. When do we want it? Now.”

They know that truth has failed them and the science they are taught and told to respect is the very same science our leaders call “crap”.

They know that if action isn’t taken now then we will have bequeathed our offspring an impossible mess to clean up. They are anything but dumb when they witness the denials and the stupidity; when the facts are placed before them they wonder why their parents – in some cases – are so stupid.

They know that mum and dad incur a cost for the upkeep of their family’s health and they ask why then should they not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.

In terms of the environment they wonder what price the people of tomorrow (meaning them) will pay for the stupidity of today

Tim Flannery was in the march and was quoted as saying:

The amount of despair that young people feel today with this crisis can be immobilising. So to see people out getting angry and demonstrating is bloody fantastic.

It’s a sign of disgust with politics, the fact that people can lie openly and there’s no redress; the fact that inaction is so deeply embedded and that lobbyists seem to rule the roost rather than the voices of the people.

It may be a terrible thing to say, but at least the elderly climate deniers – those who so ardently oppose change and vote according to their own pockets – are disappearing and hopefully will be replaced by young school leavers who have had a good education, respect science and what their logic tells them.

As for me, well, I’m looking for special dispensation.

PS: Next post I will reply to all those questions about what can be done to fix our democracy.

My thought for the day

If we’re not raising new generations to be better stewards of the environment, then what’s the point?

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  1. Bronte ALLAN

    Great article Mr Lord! All these idiotic flat earth, lying, climate-change denying, deluded, so-called “liberal/country party” politicians (sic), are obviously living in a different era, & probably on a different planet also. NONE of them will admit there is a climate-change crisis, which is only going to get worse if they do not do something constructive about it now. Full marks & full credit to all the school children who marched–in cities across Australia–peacefully & with little disruption to the cities, & showed they ALL care about what is happening to our Planet. Well done, I say & to hell with all the naysayers & idiots who tried to downgrade what these children were doing. I think the future of the planet is in good hands if the rallies in Australia are any indication of what the young people of today think about their future.

  2. Christophe

    See how many would turn up on a weekend or school holiday.
    Volunteering to help with the elderly for instance, on the weekends
    of course.
    By the way no television cameras or media may dim the enthusiasm.

  3. Pingback: What’s the matter with kids today? – » The Australian Independent Media Network #Auspol #Qldpol #NSWpol #ClimateStrike #StopAdani #ExtinctionRebellion #Insiders #TheDrum #QandA #ClimateEmergency | jpratt27

  4. Ken

    Your thought for the day is a very good point

  5. helvityni

    Sorry John, but Tehan is actually the Education Minister, not that it matters which portfolio he has, he’s pretty hopeless in any…..

    I was shocked when Scomo promoted him to Education, the most important one of all them….

  6. Baby Jewels

    I attended our local strike which was organised by local high school students. The students behind the mic were eloquent and factual, describing their deep concern for their own future. I attended because I wanted to encourage kids to think for themselves and stand up to injustice. This country needs more activists, not fewer. I needn’t have worried. They had bags of self confidence and were very determined to see justice for our planet.

  7. Stephen Tardrew

    I was in Brisbane John it was a truly inspiring event the kids respectful full of joy and happiness. A movement without a core of love and kindness will fail. These kids made me thoroughly proud. Love the article mate. In Art and Love.

  8. wam

    Not sure that the ‘strike’ is our involvement? But as for the point, that is survival of the species. and too many men breed and leave.

    The comment ‘in 4 years I can vote’ is the great future for my mind.

    Helvityni There are 9 education ministers and 9 departments. All 9 FoSaF SN

  9. Keith

    Arguably in the hours students missed school they learnt more than had they been at school.
    The student leaders certainly gained much in learning to organise major events, many of the placards were extremely creative.
    There was networking across Australia amongst the student leaders.
    The speeches were excellent at the strike I attended.

  10. John Ayes

    John, keen to get a democracy back on track? Then try the work of Marianne Williamson who will be running for the US Presidency in 2020. Get the peanuts ready.

    From her website – Why I’m Running:
    Just as it’s been said that war is far too serious a topic to be left in the hands of generals, the future of our country is far too serious to be left in the hands of traditional politicians. I have great respect for political experts, but the idea that only experienced politicians can lead us at this point in our history is preposterous. Experienced politicians led us into the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. Experienced politicians have led us to the largest income inequality since 1929. Experienced politicians have led us to the brink of environmental disaster. Experienced politicians have led us to where we are today. There are many other kinds of experiences needed in order to prepare the leader of tomorrow.

    What we most need now is a political visionary — someone with a deep understanding of where we have been and where we need to be going. While car mechanics are important, they aren’t necessarily the ones who know how to drive you to where you want to go. It is unreasonable to expect the mindset that drove us into the ditch, to be able to pull us out of it. It’s not enough now to just know what’s happening inside Washington; we need someone who also knows what’s happening inside us.

    My campaign provides the American people with the option of choosing another way — not just a better version of same old, same old politics, but a genuine pattern disruption that allows for breakthroughs and possibilities that will not otherwise occur. It is for those who want the person sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office to be someone with an expanded sense of what is necessary, as well as what’s possible, in the 21st Century.

    From what is essentially a sociopathic economic system, to a government that has become little more than a handmaiden to that system, to the dark influence of money on our politics, to the systematic neglect of millions of chronically traumatized children, to our need to fundamentally address issues of racial injustice, to our need to wage peace as well as to be prepared for war, to the sacrifice of America’s moral values within the public sphere — we need to do more than water the leaves of our democracy. We need to water the roots. We need to address the deep emotional and psychological dynamics within the average citizen that have led to the erosion of our political system. In order to have a moral and spiritual awakening in America, we need a leader who is a moral and spiritual awakener.”

  11. Matters Not

    John re:

    if that system produces young adults

    While it’s fairly common to use the production metaphor to describe the education process, the evidence suggests that students are not mere (produced) objects and good schools are not production lines. (Not bricks from a kiln.) Schools, at their very best, encourage/permit/allow students to create (and recreate) themselves as independent beings

    In the final analysis, who they become is down to themselves (in large part) – and not a system. Just sayin …

  12. John lord

    Thanks Matters Not. You are of course correct and I should have given it more thought however I think you get the point of my writing.

  13. John Hermann

    Intellectual and social dinosaurs like the minister referred to do not understand that real education is about drawing out, not ramming in. Their mindset is all about power and control, and inflicting punishment on those who do not accept or conform to their beliefs.

  14. guest

    A Murdoch scribbler recently was lamenting the presence of so many sources of social and independent media. He saw it as too much competition for the MSM. He hates competition, whereas once upon a time competition was a mantra for driving progress. So also for decades the Right-wing ideologues criticised multi-culturalism as being too diverse.

    What the Right-wing want is a grey oneness of conformity based on a fixed view of an unchanging Western Tradition.

    So also they want a blandness of media outlets all conforming. But that is not the case and they moan and groan and criticise everyone outside the Surrey Hills echo-chamber.

    To be criticised by children in return is anathema. So they blame teachers and universities as if they are infested with Marxist ideologues. And it is easier to attack single institutions such as Education and the ABC than to pinpoint the diversity of news outlets and individual commenters.

    Besides, all this public criticism makes their daily publishing of denier nonsense look especially dimwitted, along with the politicians who espouse the same ignorant rantings and fondling of a lump of coal in Parliament.

  15. Kronomex

    How…how dare these jumped up illerate and innumerate little children have free thought when they should be learning about the wonders of coal and how their born to rule betters KNOW what’s best for them. It’s the top of the slippery slope to the end of civilisation as 10% know it and then, gasp, the next thing you know is that they will want to vote.

    Three paraphrased lines (with apologies to Pink Floyd) from a song spring to mind:

    “You don’t need no education.
    You just need our thought control.
    Hey freedom, leave those kids alone.”

  16. Kronomex

    Crap! It’s “illiterate”, I really should spell check what I type more carefully before hitting post comment. Looxs lyk mye geting lernt ingliish annd spehling fayled thiss thyme.

  17. David Stakes

    And as for the comments of Christophe, there we have the whole conservative mindset in 3 sentences.

  18. Andreas Bimba

    The next ten years are critical in regard to global warming. The minimalist approach of the Conservatives or ‘Corporatists’ of this world means we would certainly overshoot the IPCC 1.5 deg C and 2 deg C warming limits and the earth would then stabilise at a much higher global average temperature when positive feedbacks such as methane releases from the Arctic begin to kick in.

    According to the recent PNAS report “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene” even just meeting the IPCC emission reduction targets for the 2 deg C limit runs a significant risk of triggering positive feedbacks that would lead eventually to a hothouse earth with 4 to 5 deg C average global warming and sea level rises of 10 to 60m. Accordingly we must aim to stay under 1.5 deg C without overshoot to avoid such a catastrophe. {ref 2 & 3 below}.

    If the fossil fuel industry had its way and all current fossil fuel reserves were to be utilised without CO2 sequestration, which is too expensive anyway, then many positive feedback mechanisms would further increase warming and we would eventually transition to an even more extreme hothouse earth with global average temperature increases according to some sources estimated at up to a 9.5 deg C and in the Arctic temperatures increasing by an average of 15 to 20 deg C. {ref 4 below}

    A ‘hothouse’ earth with 9.5 deg C warming would result in the complete eventual melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, sea level rises of about 70m and the death of most life on earth including nearly all of humanity. Some microbes, weeds and pests may evolve to cope in such a world but all of the world’s complex marine and land based ecosystems would disappear over the next few centuries – for what? A few dollars for a few corporations that could just as easily participate in tackling the problem and implementing a global Green New Deal or something similar?

    Many major fossil fuel companies are still searching for more fossil fuel reserves especially for oil and gas but even for highly damaging coal, tar sands and oil shale reserves.

    Just think through these temperatures and also bear in mind that even if the world stays just under the 1.5 deg C global warming above pre-industrial levels limit – it is predicted that 90% of the world’s remaining reef building corals and most of their associated complex eco systems will die. Global surface temperatures have warmed about 1.1deg C since 1850 – with 0.8 deg C of that warming occurring since the 1970s {ref 5}. We all really should have acted decisively two to three decades ago when key atmospheric scientists like James Hansen warned the world with highly credible evidence back then {ref 6}.

    “According to the [IPCC Summary for Policymakers] SPM, in order to limit warming to 1.5C with “no or limited overshoot”, net global CO2 emissions need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net zero” by around 2050.” {ref 1}

    The fact that most of the electorate still do not adequately appreciate the urgency or gravity of our predicament shows our mass media on the whole is not doing its job and is clearly corrupt and sick. The fact that so many of our political representatives actively fight for even more investment in doomed fossil fuel infrastructure shows that our democracy is far short of where it should be and corporate money is still pulling the strings.

    Below are some highly credible articles or web pages on global warming that I think we should all read and understand:

    Ref 1.

    In-depth Q&A: The IPCC’s special report on climate change at 1.5C

    Ref 2.


    Ref 3.


    Ref 4.


    Ref 5.


    Ref 6.


  19. LOVO

    “We are facing the greatest existential crisis humanity has ever faced. And yet it has been ignored. You who have ignored it know who you are.”

    ” For way too long, the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything to fight the climate crisis, but we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer. We are striking because we have done our homework and they have not.”
    Greta Thunberg

  20. John L

    Andreas – there is no way in a pink fit the temp will hold at or below 1.5C – that bird flew long ago. Most scientists I talk to, are looking at holding it to 2.5 – 3C with current emissions and the lack of progress – that’s if all countries bite the bullet NOW.

  21. DrakeN

    David Stakes, the faboulous Christophe actually needs to get his head out of the rarified atmosphere which emanates from his nether regions and actually see the good work which many young people are actually involved in.
    But: “There are none so blind as those that will not see.”

  22. Andreas Bimba

    John L, the roadblock remains political and based on current progress I share your fears.

    My understanding is technically it is still possible to stay under 1.5C warming without overshoot which assumes about 100ppm atmospheric CO2 reduction through massive reforestation and carbon uptake through modified agricultural practices for example to stabilise at 350ppm atmospheric CO2.

    James Hansen and Bill McKibbon have detailed a possible path to 350ppm but much time has been squandered necessitating faster and faster cuts the longer the delay.

    Reference 3 in my post concludes 2C warming can turn into 4 or 5C due to positive feedbacks so is no longer an option.

    The chances of staying under 1.5C are not looking good I regret to conclude but we must keep plugging away.

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