We've joked before here at The Pipeline about how COVID-19 came at the worst possible time for Greta Thunberg because, well, she's not getting any younger. She'll be 18 in a few months, and we're not too far away from the pigtails being kind of creepy, but the attention of the public is focused elsewhere these past few months. Her whole shtick is built off of being a kid who's sacrificing her education to call attention to the supposedly disastrous effects of climate change, but that's going to get old pretty quick once she stops being a kid.
So Greta's understandably desperate to get her name back into the headlines. In May we reported on one such attempt, when she signed on to a U.N. lawsuit against nations purportedly not doing enough to lower emissions. Now she's involved in an effort to get world leaders to -- what else? -- "transform [our] whole economic system" to combat the climate crisis. Her approach, as usual, is to convince them by saying the word "crisis" a lot:
We need to see it as, above all, an existential crisis. And as long as it’s not being treated as a crisis, we can have as many of these climate change negotiations and talks, conferences as possible. It won’t change a thing,” Thunberg said.... “Above all, we are demanding that we need to treat this crisis as a crisis, because if we don’t do that, then we won’t be able to do anything.
The letter demands governments immediately divest from fossil fuels and for the E.U. to impose a "carbon budget" specifying how much carbon they may emit per year. Same old, same old; gotta play the hits for the fans. But it did contain one thing I found interesting -- a call for lefties to rally 'round the red flag, you might say, specifying that the governments of the world adopt climate policies "designed to protect workers and the most vulnerable and reduce economic, racial and gender inequalities," as well as moves to “safeguard and protect democracy."
Leaving aside whether democracies should be protected in their right to reject heavy-handed climate policies, this too strikes me as a mark of desperation. Identity politics has recently moved beyond its first-among-equals status to become the dominant theme of leftist discourse, leaving very little oxygen for anything else. What's left is necessarily subsumed by economic questions -- you're hearing increasing calls for the imposition of Universal Basic Income -- because of our lockdown-related contractions.
The authors of this letter seem hopeful that environmentalism can piggyback on those causes, but I'm not sure that follows. I've said before that I believe environmentalism is increasingly becoming a luxury we can't afford, and it might be that the Left is beginning to realize that as well.
Notwithstanding the €1 million she was recently awarded for her activism, the same could increasingly be said for Greta herself.