In a speech to the United Nations, Prime Minister Scott Morrison blasted those using the climate change “anxiety” of children to further their political ends:
“We must respect and harness the passion and aspiration of our younger generations, we must guard against others who would seek to compound or, worse, facelessly exploit their anxiety for their own agendas. We must similarly not allow their concerns to be dismissed or diminished as this can also increase their anxiety.”
Scott insisted that children should be allowed to be just that:
“Above all, we should let our children be children, let our kids be kids, let our teenagers be teenagers, while we work positively together to deliver the practical solutions for them and their future.”
I believe he’s right.
As I tweeted Thursday:
In my opinion, using children to push politics is as crass as it gets. Children don't deserve the weight of the world. It's our job to watch over it while they play.
— Alex Parker (@alexparker1984) September 26, 2019
It appears to be an increasing maneuver.
In my view, this new era began on Valentine’s Day, 2018. The use of Parkland kids as pawns was extremely hard to watch. Those youngsters were made to think they were saving the world, as if this was their anointed purpose on earth — they were the empowered heroes the planet would one day thank. It seems to me they were pumped full of messianic promise; then the news cycle reset, and they were unceremoniously dumped.
For a moment in time, inexperienced teens believed their names would go down in history. Then the media got wind of a new story, and it was, “Parkland who?”
As for Scott’s comments, they come, of course, after a controversial emotional speech by Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old who came across earlier this week as terribly beset by frantic despair due to an around-the-corner Armageddon.
"This is all wrong, I shouldn't be up here (…) yet, you all come to us young people for hope, how dare you," said teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg in a speech to the UN.
— Globalnews.ca (@globalnews) September 23, 2019
But Greta wasn’t the first child to take the stage and proclaim impending extinction.
This was 27 years ago:
Sound familiar? This speech from a 1992 UN environmental conference has striking parallels with @GretaThunberg's viral UN speech delivered this week.
Severn Cullis-Suzuki was 12 years then and still is an environmental activist now. pic.twitter.com/QrxxKSmhmS
— DW News (@dwnews) September 25, 2019
Here are Scott’s comments in full:
Like many leaders here, I get many letters from children in Australia concerned about their future.
I take them very seriously and I deeply respect their concerns and indeed I welcome their passion, especially when it comes to the environment.
My impulse is always to seek to respond positively and to encourage them. To provide context, perspective and particularly to generate hope.
To focus their minds and direct their energies to practical solutions and positive behaviour that will deliver enduring results for them.
To encourage them to learn more about science, technology, engineering and maths – because it’s through research, innovation and enterprise that the practical work of successfully managing our very real environmental challenges is achieved.
We must respect and harness the passion and aspiration of our younger generations, we must guard against others who would seek to compound or, worse, facelessly exploit their anxiety for their own agendas. We must similarly not allow their concerns to be dismissed or diminished as this can also increase their anxiety. What parent could do otherwise?
Our children have a right not just to their future but to their optimism.
Above all, we should let our children be children, let our kids be kids, let our teenagers be teenagers – while we work positively together to deliver the practical solutions for them and their future.
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