By FRANK CARINI
The recent campaign by global youth to address the manmade disaster that is climate change is both inspiring and tragic.
Margaret Cavanaugh, a sophomore at Classical High School in Providence, told some 250 of her peers who had “skipped” school in mid-March and gathered at the Statehouse to protest lax responses to climate change that, “We must make our voices heard. We should be screaming to the people in power to make changes.”
Sadly, however, when it comes to climate change, environmental protections, and social injustices far too many of the people holding power in this country stick their fingers in their ears and make the lala sound whenever any of these interconnected subjects are mentioned. Screaming at them, while it will momentarily make you feel better, ultimately won’t accomplish much.
So please allow this 51-year-old who skipped school for no good reason and learned nothing from the experience except how to break into a 1971 Chevy Chevelle when he mistakenly left the keys in the car, offer one bit of less-than-sage advice to our future leaders: hit them, figuratively, not say, with an egg to the back of the head, in their pocketbooks and wallets. Make them see red and turn red.
Mitigating climate change goes well beyond reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. It’s also about shrinking consumption and elevating the marginalized and the desperate.
Our inspirational population of engaged youth must play the lead role in overcoming the death and destruction Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and the Greatest Generation have wrought on this planet, the environment, and each other. We have spectacularly proven we are not capable of such leadership. You, Gen Z, have identified there are problems and are demanding solutions. Don’t wait for us to provide the latter.
Your most important work will be to break up the incestuous relationships we birthed between corporations, the shareholders they kowtow to, the politicians they buy, and the products they sell, most of which are wasteful and needless.
It’s not an easy task. As corporations merge and monopolize, thanks to the undemocratic — even criminal — efforts of many elected officials, power and wealth are being consolidated, severe weather is worsening, and pressures are mounting.
We Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and Greatest Generationers are too busy being distracted by D.C.’s hodgepodge of carnival barkers and punchinellos to detect the problems that really matter. We’re too busy being entertained, outraged, and disgusted by cable TV’s endless supply of talking heads to understand what is really happening to us and the world.
You need to starve the beast we continue to feed — by buying the products and services advertised on cable TV’s hate programs; by letting social media control the information and narrative; by making corporations people; by allowing children to be put in cages; by making it harder for people to vote; by supporting endless war; by making people wealthy even as they spew bigotry, pollute the air, water and land, damage ecosystems, endanger plants and animals, degrade public health, and put the future in peril.
Please keep up your inspiring work. There’s a chance it will motivate more of us Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and Greatest Generationers to help you build bridges, spread tolerance, embrace peace, protect the environment, and give a voice to the voiceless.
Frank Carini is the ecoRI News editor.