Greta Thunberg, the new face of the Climate Change Movement worldwide, has a lot to say about environmental issues. Speaking before the UN’s Climate Action Summit, she accused the leaders of all countries of stealing her childhood and her future, and of talking about fairy-tales and bedtime stories, instead of taking any real type of action. Many world leaders were understandably miffed, because in their opinion, they have done many things to help stave off climate change.
However, is this really true? Are there really limits and caps on fossil fuel emissions from factories, cars, and other polluters? We can all agree that there are a lot of caps on the emissions that cars can put out, hence the bothersome inspections that people in most states are forced to undergo on a biannual basis. But when it comes to factories and their emissions, the standards are either not there in the first place, are ignored with no repercussions, or are continually changed every time that a new administration comes into office. In Linden, New Jersey or Staten Island, New York, for example, anyone can see the factories letting out pollution day and night.
Focusing only on Climate Change, and limiting emissions, ignores all of the other environmental problems that are not as political. For example, she mentions in passing the Sixth Mass Extinction that we are presently in the throes of, with over 200 species going extinct every single day. This is nearly 1,000 times the background, or normal, extinction rate, and according to scientists is actually the largest extinction that has ever taken place, comparable only to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Whereas, Climate Change is something that becomes intensely political, with some politicians even insisting that it isn’t real, other issues are also political but don’t require entirely political solutions. For example, she mentions the Paris Climate Agreement multiple times, and in her telling of it, it would seem that the Paris Agreement allows newer economies that are undeveloped, such as India, to pollute with impunity, so that they can build the infrastructure that we have already built, while the richer nations, such as the US and Sweden, must immediately cap and limit their emissions. Not only is this unfair to the richer nations, whose residents would like to continue to live in their current state of industrialization, it simply shifts the polluting responsibility onto the poorer nations. This means that there will continue to be Greenhouse gas emissions, continue to be pollution, until every nation has the same standard of living and development as the richer nations.
Some would state, though, that real change happens at the grassroots level. If small groups of humans are able, through environmental activism and local changes, to stop clear-cutting of forests, building of new roads and buildings where wetlands once were, eliminating crucial habitats, and polluting the oceans, it is possible to reverse and prevent this mass extinction from continuing. However, if all of the humans allow themselves to become mired in activism for Climate Change, which is nebulous at best, and the science is not as clear as some would have us believe, then nothing will change, and the Earth will continue inexorably on this path to destruction. Unfortunately, not all scientists are in agreement, which is a reality that is continually pointed to by politicians that are in power, who use this as an excuse to do nothing, to continue polluting, emitting toxic fumes, and dumping into the oceans. When an issue is so centered in politics, it serves to help no one.