Our leaders are killing our kids

Oceans of ink have been spilled arguing that social media and smartphones are the reason young people around the world are not doing well.

While there may well be truth to that, to me the whole discussion seems like an evasion of the real issue: we are living in a world where our leaders are killing our kids, because they are unwilling to act on climate change even though it could bring about the end of our civilization. We live in a world where the people in charge are willing to condemn everyone who follows them to torment and destruction, all because they are unwilling to give up the conveniences of fossil fuels. The ‘leaders’ who are doing this are committing history’s most egregious crime against future generations and the natural world, yet our media and society keep treating them as the best of their kind: deserving of praise, wealth, and fancy state funerals when they reach the end.

The lesson that sends to young people is that the system does not value them in any way, and is happy to sacrifice their most vital interests for the sake of further enriching those who benefit from the fossil fuel status quo – which is not just billionaire fatcats, but billions of consumers in rich societies who take it for granted that big trucks and airplanes are the way to get around and who insist on political leaders who pretend to care about climate change, while being privately committed to keep supporting the fossil fuel industry.

Even the RCMP – an institution that sees itself as an ally (p. 41) of the fossil fuel industry – is warning about how our societal disregard for the interests of the young is fueling instability:

There is a notion of the social contract in which each generation is obligated to consider the interests of those who will come after. This covenant has been totally broken, with the almost inescapable consequence that intergenerational conflict will become more and more severe as the damage we have done to the Earth keeps destroying our ability to provide the well-off with what they feel entitled to.


6 thoughts on “Our leaders are killing our kids”

  1. The counterpoint perhaps is that earlier generations didn’t wreck the future for their own benefit not because they were morally better but because they simple didn’t have the technology and economic power to do it yet. Earlier generations didn’t live with this sort of responsibility.

  2. By the 2070s we will be living in a fundamentally different climate than the one our country was built for. Cities across the country will begin to reach “climate departure”: a symbolic rubicon, after which a climate falls completely outside historical norms. Even the coldest year, going forward, will be hotter than the hottest in the past. The concept was defined in 2013 by researchers at the University of Hawai’i, who crunched computer models of 39 different planetary futures to arrive at their predictions. In a scenario consistent with roughly two degrees warming by mid-century, Montreal is estimated to reach its departure point in 2072, Toronto in 2074 and Vancouver in 2083.


  3. ‘Grownup’ leaders are pushing us towards catastrophe, says former US climate chief | Climate crisis | The Guardian


    Political leaders who present themselves as “grownups” while slowing the pace of climate action are pushing the world towards deeper catastrophe, a former US climate chief has warned.

    “We are slowed down by those who think of themselves as grownups and believe decarbonisation at the speed the climate community calls for is unrealistic,” said Todd Stern, who served as a special envoy for climate change under Barack Obama, and helped negotiate the 2015 Paris agreement.

    “They say that we need to slow down, that what is being proposed [in cuts to greenhouse gas emissions] is unrealistic,” he told the Observer. “You see it a lot in the business world too. It’s really hard [to push for more urgency] because those ‘grownups’ have a lot of influence.”

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