An epic battle between the forces of good & evil (apparently)

Thousands of children hold placards and chant slogans after they walked out of school in protest against government inaction on climate change in Sydney in Australia on November 30, 2018. Photo: Reuters

By Temporal Tui

While most agree students have a right to be heard and have a genuine interest in the issue, many question the need for the protest to be during school hours.  The response from the student organisers of the strikes has been to claim that climate change is more important than their education and skipping school will demonstrate the seriousness of the situation. And of course it will be a “learning experience”.

Teachers and principals seem to be divided on the case with some supporting the student organised movement as it is “doing good” and others perhaps realising that condoning absenteeism might lead to more reasons for, and cases of, absenteeism.

 Predictably the political reaction has been divided along party lines with National in mild opposition: quote.

I think the reality is yeah its a serious issue but I certainly wouldn’t want to say anything that would encourage students to be taking time out of their schooling.

Simon Bridges

We support them to have their say, ideally it would be out side school and obviously concerned we have got the Ministers of change out their encouraging people to not go to school.

Nationals Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye end quote.

Judith Collins went perhaps a little further saying

Their little protest is not going to help the world one bit. end quote.

The Greens in contrast gave loud and enthusiast support. quote.

What is education for, if not to engage citizens and young people in saving our planet and demanding action from Politicians we’re proud to support their own initiatives and calling us to account.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson end quote.

James Shaw as Climate Change Minister wrote a frankly nauseating opinion piece in Stuff comparing the students to those who opposed apartheid and protested for gay rights. He described them as fighting for the future, the planet and their lives and he finished with quote.

That’s why I, as your Green Party minister in this Government, will make sure we bring the Zero Carbon Bill into law. end quote.

No political or ideological bias there then.

The Media have been overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed strike publishing opinion piece after opinion piece praising the kids for recognising the seriousness of climate change. David Slack likened it to the biblical flood and fire and plague. The opinion pieces roundly denounced schools and ‘the system’ for not supporting their efforts and made the subtle and not so subtle implications that anyone who did not support them must be a climate change “denier”.

The idea that attention needs to be drawn to the issue of climate change is itself rather ludicrous. It has been one of the most investigated, discussed and covered issues of the last 30+ years. Currently climate change stories feature prominently on all major news networks. Stuff has a section devoted to the topic. Our government has set dealing with climate change as one of its main priorities and seems quite happy to throw money at any likely program or organisation that will help. If you don’t know any of this I can only assume you have been living under a rock somewhere.

To children at the ripe old age of 12 to 18, it may seem like a new and crucial issue that is being ignored, but this is not really true. For example, the damage done to the earth’s ozone layer is slowly reversing with the banning of chlorofluorocarbons, and need I mention the main-streaming of electric vehicles? Now I’ll happily admit that I’m not an expert on climate change or the science behind it. I doubt that any of these striking students are either. It’s a complicated and difficult problem arising out of a chaotic system that defies easy predictions. The solutions to it will probably be equally complicated and messily practical and they will take time.

There seems to be no good reason why the issue of climate change is so ideologically charged when disagreements are less about denial and mostly about the costs and benefits of various solutions. But currently, every issue is ideologically charged. Presented by activists, media or politicians as an epic battle between the forces of good and evil to save the world.

I exaggerate, but not by much. So it is hardly surprising that our children have learnt to view issues in this way. It is also not surprising (but rather quite depressing), that they believe the best way to deal with issues is to protest loudly, declare their moral righteousness and demand that the government fix the problem.

I wonder how many of these student leaders are planning on a career in environmentalism or climate science or just plan old biology or agriculture? Will they be inventing ways to improve recycling techniques or reduce methane emissions? Somehow I doubt it.

The demands of SchoolStrike4ClimateNZ come across as just a little bit ideological, somewhat entitled and very idealistic. I have just as much interest in the state of the world in 15 years as a teenager does thank you very much. I do plan on still being here!

It reads in other words as though it was written by … well… children……..