Letter to Greta Thunberg about why I didn’t vote for a greener candidate

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Editor’s Note: Greta Thunberg is a young climate change activist from Sweden recently touring Canada.

Dear Greta,

As someone who wrestled with my vote in the recent Canadian election, I know my choice wasn’t the one you or millions of other climate activists would forgive me for.

Bruce Valpy, Publisher, NNSL Media, Northern News Services Ltd.I am guessing that in your case. The way you are portrayed by your own communications team and your strident stance on climate change in national and international newspapers, social media and on television, you are convinced the planet is facing immediate disaster. No compromises can be made based on your assessment of the science.

I have no problem accepting the science. Climate change is happening. We see it every winter in the North – warmer temperatures (-35 rather than -45 in 30 years) and melting permafrost. Have humans caused climate change? When I think of all the millions of people in the cities driving cars and trucks on congested freeways, living and working in mountainous buildings, suburbs sprawling endlessly to horizons, all burning energy every second, minute, hour, day, we are surely hurting the planet. Cleaner energy, less waste, there’s no argument, the time to begin is past, the time to do it is now.

By European Parliament from EU - Greta Thunberg at the Parliament, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81699733
By European Parliament from EU – Greta Thunberg.

But the people who sat at your feet to learn and support your message in our Canadian cities drove there in something, or they viewed you on one of the handheld devices that represent the pinnacle of our energy-based technology. They will go back to homes heated with oil or gas. They will eat food that sucked up energy from conception/germination on farms to slaughter/harvest in processing plants to plastic packaging and trucked delivery to the refrigerated counters of our stores.

This truth of who we are is causing damage to the Earth. We are encouraged at every turn to buy, to consume, even to feel need where there is none. The people who hold you up as a prophet embody this rampant consumerism every time they go on their phone to support your climate change creed. This apparent hypocrisy in no way diminishes the truth of your climate change crusade. Instead, you and your army of activists should understand your family, friends and neighbours, your country, have all bought into this crippling consumerism whether they like it or not, just to survive.

Scolding may garner headlines. Pitting the young against the old also works to fuel the cause. But real change requires role modelling and compromise. Attacking the Canadian oil industry without regard to to the families of the workers it supports and the far greater number of middle and lower income families who you want to pay for combating climate change, well, that could lead to extreme civil unrest and an outcome of the survival of the wealthiest – generally those who benefit most from rampant consumerism.

No compromises leads to oil tankers coming into Eastern Canadian ports imported from overseas and and oil laden train cars across the country (remember Lac-Mégantic?). So as much as I wanted to vote the way you and my children wanted me to, the duty to acknowledge reality weighs heavier. Pipelines are not the enemy, consumerism is. Help us fight that plague by encouraging us to feel good about living more efficiently, cleaner, having less and making do with what we need. Health is happiness, for the Earth, for our country, for ourselves. That is a message we can all get behind.

Thanks for listening and please write back. Perhaps sometime in the future, there will be a way you can come visit the North without using carbon producing vehicles. You can do that now with either dog teams or canoes but you might be off the grid for longer than your disciples would like.

 

5 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a multi faceted situation that must be dealt with facet by facet. Greta has a favorite facet and she flogs it, almost to death. The ‘How dare you?’ routine is totally dependent on her being a kid chastising adults. The answer is in money. The redistribution of wealth from energy is an uphill battle against the status quo. However, it is working-glass half full perspective. When her parents where her age solar and wind were not viable alternatives. Today they are and soon they will be far less expensive than fossil fuels. What will make this happen will be the profits that drive the transition from investment in fossil fuels to investment in alternative energy. The benefits will not only be less pollution but more industry and higher paying jobs. Denmark exports 40% of the world’s heavy wind turbines at over $10mil a pop. This is the message that will make change come about far more realistically and quickly than ‘How dare you?’ from a kid.

  2. Jacky,
    Absolute rubbish. Is the climate changing? Absolutely. Will it continue to change? Absolutely. Is this new? Absolutely not. Will this change be good or bad for humanity? Well, we’re not really sure.

    Your buying into this alarmism underscores your low level thought process and immaturity.

    Instead of spending enormous amounts of energy, brainpower and money trying to fix something that we don’t even understand, we should be expending those same resources on fixing all those things that we do understand and know irrefutably that we have caused and that will damage our planet.

  3. Bruce, this is absolutely terrible as an opinion piece. You seem purposely misunderstand her point repeatedly in favor of leaning on the same old rhetoric, guaranteed to foster outrage and bring in readers, right? So unbelievably weak.

    This idea that a person participating in society is not allowed to criticize aspects of it – get off your boomer high horse. Was the person who invented electricity a hypocrite for using candles while he worked? Should only those who live totally off-grid and free of petro-products be allowed to criticize? I don’t get how you old fogies don’t realize what a poor arguing point that is; YES, petro chemicals are involved in damn near everything – that’s the alarm bell we are trying to ring! Good job on purposely missing the point.

    There is no way to cleanly produce and use fossil fuels. There won’t be such a way developed in time to save things. So yes, excuse us as we make use of what resources are left as we try to fight this battle, against a petro-consumerist way of life, and against your outdated viewpoints.

    You sound like a condescending old man who refuses to address the actual issue of climate change, in favor of sarcastically writing a letter to a young woman who is only trying to spread the word so many of us have already heard – but you won’t listen. Maybe you’ll feel differently when your grandchildren are facing a world lost of biodiversity, swathed in desertification, and subject to extreme weather changes -but hey, you’ll probably be dead by then, right? Not your problem anymore – typical boomer.

  4. Sorry, I like the understated tone of this editor’s note, but the message is the same old boring boomer rhetoric…

    “… as much as I wanted to vote the way you and my children wanted me to, the duty to acknowledge reality weighs heavier. Pipelines are not the enemy, consumerism is. Help us fight that plague by encouraging us to feel good about living more efficiently, cleaner, having less and making do with what we need. Health is happiness, for the Earth, for our country, for ourselves. That is a message we can all get behind.”

    Problem is, “having less and and being more efficient” doesn’t “feel good” and encouraging folks to swallow this bitter pill has been applied for decades… spoiler alert: it hasn’t worked on any level. Now time’s up, 60% of biodiversity is now MIA and we’re all on the precipice – especially you northerners and your permafrost situation… aren’t you afraid? What ancient bacteria lies under your feet? When it’s thawed, what adaption do you expect your body to have?

    But that’s likely too conceptual for you.

    I don’t buy for a second you really want to be encouraged to accept a massive, uncomfortable change in your lifestyle and consumer experience… you just want the growing guilt you feel inside to go away as the findings become more damning and the science hardens. An inefficient and destructive way of living being critiqued by youths with their future at stake is painful reality… but for you to understand the gravity of this, you (and others like you) will need to directly feel the chaos of the destabilized environment… breaking your community down with no remorse, negotiation or cease fire… I’m guessing then you’ll change. But not before.

    Think of Fort McMurray when it burned to the ground…
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-wildfires-climate-change-1.5168355

    I doubt Greta will be writing you back with any offer of “trying better to be more optimistic.”
    Still, you can keep dreaming.
    Tough love.

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