Many Democrats in the U.S. heard Greta Thunberg’s speech at the United Nations on Monday, but few seem to have been listening.
The 16-year-old climate activist’s remarks offered a damning, unambiguous indictment of world leaders who continue to fail to act with appropriate urgency to address the climate crisis, which literally threatens to destroy the prospects for organized life on Earth in her lifetime.
“You are failing us. But young people are starting to understand your betrayal,” Thunberg said, her voice cracking with emotion. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”
For whatever reason, some politicians in the United States seem to believe that this threat does not apply to them, simply because they have a “D” next to their name.
Earlier this week, a short video of Thunberg staring down president Donald Trump – a look of clear disgust frozen on her face – went viral. U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar captioned the video on Twitter, writing “same.” The tweet was likely written by a staffer and meant to be amusing and harmless. But it’s worth pointing out that there’s nothing the “same” about the two at all.
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) September 23, 2019
Thunberg may or may not even know who Klobuchar is. But the Senator doubtlessly qualifies as one of the very people that she has consistently denounced for failing her generation and all future generations to come.
Klobuchar’s entire presidential candidacy is based on her reputation as a “moderate” – someone willing to “compromise” and “work with” with Republicans to “get things done.”
On the issue of climate change, “compromise” effectively means bargaining away the future of those who will inherit the planet, long after Klobuchar is gone and forgotten.
The Republican Party is a radical outlier on the climate issue. Three out of four Republicans do not even believe that humans are responsible for climate change, and the GOP is the only major party in the world that is committed to doing nothing about it. Meeting them halfway, as Klobuchar proposes, is nowhere near appropriate given the stakes.
Thunberg, as well as the world’s leading climate scientists, are crystal clear on this.
“How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual’ and some technical solutions?” Thunberg asked the heads of state at the U.N. this week. “How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight?”
"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) September 24, 2019
The latest comprehensive report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that, even by the most conservative models, governments have only a matter of years to fundamentally transform their nations’ energy systems if the world hopes to avert irreparable, catastrophic climate change.
In the United States, scientists, activists, economists, and progressive politicians have come together to produce a framework of how this could be achieved. The “Green New Deal” seeks to transition the U.S. economy to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 and is, according to some experts, not only feasible but the only viable path to meaningfully mitigating the climate crisis.
But Klobuchar, in the typically inept, weak-kneed style of the Democratic establishment, has rejected the proposal out of hand, calling it “aspirational.”
Instead, Klobuchar and the majority of Democrats have only “empty words” and “fairytales” to offer young people, as Thunberg put it Monday. Their rejection of major action on climate change is not based on any objective fiscal, technological, or even political restraints, but is rather a reflection of their own cowardice and unwillingness to confront the powerful interests who oppose it.
Shamefully, Thunberg has been subjected to endless right-wing smears and insults, including suggestions that she is being manipulated and used by liberal politicians. But these critics have it backward.
Adult politicians are not influencing Thunberg. Rather, she and other children are desperately trying to influence them to act. Because as Thunberg says, the adults are simply “not mature enough to tell it like it is.”
There is hardly a Democratic politician in America with half as much moral courage as Thunberg, and history will not absolve them for being the lesser of two evils.
So to Klobuchar and other Democrats who are seeking to opportunistically associate themselves with Thunberg, I have only this to say:
How dare you?
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