MICHAEL WOLSEY: Out of the mouths of babes and crackpots
WHEN I was 16 I knew just what was wrong with the world and how to fix it.
Fortunately, the world wasn’t listening and so was spared the creation of an international Marxist super-state that paid surgeons the same as window cleaners and printed money for anyone who needed it.
Looking back, I don’t think I was too bothered by the lack of attention. I didn’t have much sense at 16 but I had enough to realise that my ideas might be better in theory than in practice and that the foolish old duffers, who had been through World War Two and the Great Depression, might not be wrong all the time.
Does Greta Thunberg ever have such doubts? If so, she hides them well. But why should this 16-year-old have doubts when the great and the good of the adult world hang on her every word and worship her as the new messiah?
She is in America at the moment where she is to address the United Nations on climate change and where she is trying to oraganise protests in favour of radical climate action.
She travelled from Europe on a yacht, thus sparing the world the emissions a journey by plane would have generated.
But, of course, the world wasn’t spared, because the scheduled flight she could have taken made the voyage anyway – and several people flew to New York to bring the yacht back to Europe.
Greta’s journey took 15 days. If everyone followed her example, international travel would virtually cease along with a lot of international trade. Rich countries would become poor and the poor countries, for whom Greta expresses much concern, would be destitute.
Obviously, I am not one of Greta’s disciples. But my issue is not really with the Swedish teenager. She is a remarkable, articulate, young woman who holds her views passionately and sincerely.
My issue is with adult society that gives credence to the half-formed opinions of a 16-year-old and is prepared to let her shape important policies and influence crucial decisions.
She is one face of a trend which rejects leadership that is rational and conventional in favour of conspiracy theories and emotional hogwash. Another is Mike Pence. Our recent visitor is an evangelistic Christian who does not believe in evolution and holds the Biblical story of creation to be the literal truth.
Ms Thunberg warns that the end is nigh if we don’t repent our climate polluting ways. Mr Pence, on the other hand, has declared that “global warming is a myth” and the Earth “is actually cooler today than it was about 50 years ago”.
This man is Vice President of the United States of America. And here’s the really alarming thing – he is probably more rational than the man who is President.
In the 1930s, the German people put their faith in a despot who believed the world’s problems could be blamed on Jews. Japan and Italy trusted their fates to equally misguided crackpots. The result was World War Two.
Since then the western world, at least, has been led by experienced politicians who believe in compromise and the value of slow and steady progress. In the second half of the twentieth century they gave us a society that was a very great improvement on that of the previous fifty years.
We seem willing to put all that at risk by entrusting the future of the world to charlatans, carpetbaggers, 16-year-old girls and Boris Johnson.
Greta Thunberg and Donald Trump are both scheduled to address the United Nations this month. Be afraid. Be very afraid.