Published in the Delaware County Daily Times Wednesday, October 2, 2019
By Joseph Batory, Times Columnist
As an educator who in the past has encouraged and supported the idealism and convictions and dreams of many thousands of young people, I find it incredible that the President of the United States and his political talking heads have mocked a passionate 16 year old who had the courage to address the United Nations and the world re the realities of climate change.
In her presentation to the United Nations, Greta Thunberg, a Swedish activist who founded the school strike campaign to raise awareness about the climate change emergency, recently stressed the urgent need for all governments (including the USA) to take comprehensive action on climate change.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean,” Greta passionately and heroically told the United Nations assembly “… You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying and ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction …”
Sadly, the political pushback on Greta’s speech has been predictably nasty. Trump’s sarcastic dismissal of Greta Thunberg tweet was the beginning. Then, on Fox News, Greta was outrageously called “a mentally ill Swedish child.” Other attackers characterized her as a “puppet” and “manipulated.” And one climate denier viciously joined in the chorus of critics: “She’s ignorant, maniacal and is being mercilessly manipulated by adult climate bedwetters funded by Putin.”
Added to this, The National Review offered this pathetic generalization: “With rare exceptions…kids have nothing interesting to say to us.”
So, according to this political wisdom, it is not possible that any 16-year-old could think, analyze, research and then form an objective opinion. And, according to these attackers, Greta Thunberg has to be empty-headed because her arguments have no scientific validity. Well, here is the reality check:
- The latest scientific report from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration documents that last year was the fourth-hottest year ever recorded, which means that the past five years have been the five warmest years in the modern record.
- In addition, the US Global Change Research Program, a team of 13 federal agencies, recently released the 4th National Climate Change Assessment with the help of 1,000 people, including 300 world-class scientists. This report clearly notes that global average temperature is much higher and rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has experienced due to human activity and especially emissions of greenhouse gases. Essentially, the earth has been and is continuing to warm because of the continued human-created fossil fuel emissions which lead to climate-related disasters that include high-intensity hurricanes, floods, droughts, extreme precipitation, forest fires, and heat waves which will threaten life and property.
- This latest federal report also cites a dire warning about climate change and its devastating financial impacts, noting that the agriculture economy will gradually lose hundreds of millions of dollars in the years ahead. Farmers will face extremely tough times because of extreme heat and excessively wet conditions. The quality and quantity of their crops as well dairy production will decline across the country due to higher temperatures, drought and flooding.
Just a few days ago, a report released Wednesday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summed up existing research on global warming to provide a technical baseline for governments taking action to fight climate change.
This scientific panel under the auspices of the United Nations has concluded after reviewing thousands of research studies that oceans are warming, and ice sheets are shrinking because of heat-trapping greenhouse gas-emissions.
In the report, the panel said the oceans have absorbed enough excess carbon dioxide in recent decades to make seawater more acidic and hold less oxygen, which affects sea life, while freshwater from melting ice sheets has become a significant cause of rising sea levels.
The result, the panel said, is disrupting global fisheries and threatening 680 million people who live in low-lying coastal communities with higher tides, flooding and storm surges.
Clearly, there is an environmental disaster in the making, a clear and present danger.
Greta Thunberg is a true hero for keeping this issue on the front burner. And cowardly and politically motivated adults, slandering and demeaning a conscientious teenager is despicable, devoid of principle, and betrays any semblance of decency.
Joseph Batory has been widely published on politics and education.