Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Why Only The New Generation Can Save The World

When I saw the IPCC report warning that Planet Earth is in even worse shape than most humans thought it was, I was stunned.

So soon, so devastating. 

The world is failing in its effort to avert catastrophic climate change, a United Nations panel warned Monday, and the result will be more deaths and climate refugees due to extreme weather and rising seas, a greater rate of species extinction and reduced economic growth.

wondered how we were going to get out of this one, and where do we go from here?

And the only thing I could think of was the urgent need for generational change.

For as the environmental writer Andrew Nikiforuk wrote shortly after Donald Trump was elected President, some truths are self evident, and none more than this one. 

The Baby Boom generation, the most destructive and selfish generation in the history of the planet, has made its last political statement.

And if that was true then, it's even truer now. 

The world needs the new generation for only it can provide the leadership to transform how we live on this planet, and save us all from the place where the old have taken us. 

There is no better example than this transformational power than these two maps of Britain.

This one shows what Britain would look like after the next general election if only the over 65s were given the vote...

With most of the UK a solid Tory blue.

While this map shows what Britain would look like if only the 18-24s voted...

With most of the UK a solid Labour red, except for the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats in Scotland.

And its not just that the new generation is the most progressive generation in human history, it's also the generation that has been least compromised by our collective march towards oblivion.

And without the wealth or the vested interests of the old, it's the one that can best imagine and implement the radical changes needed to make life on this planet more sustainable.

And banish the dilapidated old Cons who offer up nothing but gloom...

But insist on trying to suck up all the oxygen in the room, even though their day is almost done, and the future does NOT belong to them.

As the Italian philosopher Antoni Gramsci once wrote before he died in a fascist prison:

"The old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum there arises a great diversity of morbid symptoms."

Well now the new is being born. It's the biggest voting bloc in Canada and the United States.

And the same ones who are fighting the dirty old men in defence of women's rights...

Are also the ones who will fight for that new and better world.

Once the boomers proclaimed that "you can't trust anybody over thirty." And while I wouldn't go that far. We are going to need people of all ages to heal the planet.

The new generation must be given the political power it needs to do what must be done.

For only they can save our only home from those who would destroy it...


  1. Jackie Blue1:41 PM

    I know the pipeline issue is going to stick in Trudeau's craw for awhile. Realpolitik being what it is, though, I think it's worth pointing out (as a number of people have on social media) that the Americans who won the Nobel Prize for putting the "eco" in economics said that the best way to nudge the planet in the direction of weaning off fossil fuels is... a carbon tax. Too bad neither Ford nor Kenney are interested in hearing from "eggheads," let alone the methane-producing orange elephant in the U$A who continues laying waste to the ecosystem, both to pad the wallets of his buddies with short-term profits and also to pander to the irrational religious base that wants to hasten the "end times." It seems nothing short of total catastrophe in the form of another world war or ecological disaster (or a combination of the two) will provide the inevitable corrective mechanism. The cynical pessimist in me almost believes this is nature's way of throwing fleas off her back. But the natural empath in me recognizes that what nature might consider fleas, the rest of us know as people, and don't want us all to die.

    Radical collective action is needed, but the word "collective" is too scary for a lot of people and calls to mind Red Scare propaganda about Soviet central planning and labor camps. There is a very profitable cottage industry targeting a susceptible public with simplistic messaging that "green is the new red." In the case of Trumpists, Ford Monster Truck Nation, and Jason the bigoted swamp creature, it's more like green is the new pink. Studies have shown that resistance to environmental initiatives is linked to toxic masculinity and a cultural perception of coal mining, oil wars, and diesel-powered monster trucks as "manly," versus the homophobic stereotype of California hipsters and "eco-feminists" driving Priuses (or riding bicycles), weeping over starving polar cubs, and generally feeling "emo" and depressed over the fate of mother Earth. An insulting and dangerous caricature to be certain, but unfortunately one that works. And what better way to dissuade insecure Trumpians or even fence-sitters from supporting climate-friendly programs than by associating them with Obama's "mom jeans" or a picture of crying "soy boy" Trudeau.

    "Green" in people's pockets from renewable energy initiatives can only go so far; what's needed as well is to put some of that money towards a messaging campaign aimed at changing hearts and minds -- and a willingness to touch the third rail of confronting the conspicuous consumption that powers the engines of capitalism. Young people more and more identify as social democrats or even socialists. They're also resistant to the restrictive gender norms that identify planetary destruction and peak-ape chest thumping as "manly." Unfortunately, they're not the ones pulling the levers of power. They need to get out the vote en masse and throw the right-wing out at all levels around the world, or we're all going to get "swamped."

    1. Hi Jackie...I agree that we really need better messaging. I pretty sure many of those rejecting a carbon tax have no idea how it's supposed to work. So people like the ape Doug Ford are able to get away with declaring a carbon tax to be the "worst tax ever." What the government needs to do is produce 30 second online and TV ads that explain the idea in such a simple way that even a dumb Con can understand. There is nothing Canadiand like more than to feel they are doing the right thing, and getting paid for it...

  2. Anonymous2:24 PM

    We may not agree on many things, Simon, but I have long championed generational justice. We need to free society from rule by old white men.

    It's a critical challenge but we've left it much too late to make any difference. This government continues to pursue perpetual, exponential growth - just like every government that preceded it. What would a younger generation need to do to get us out of such a deeply ingrained pursuit? Do you imagine it could be done democratically?

    We have a biosphere that is now sufficiently degraded that its human carrying capacity is estimated to have declined from 3 billion at its zenith to just 2 billion today. We're already past 7.5 billion, heading for 9 billion, so who dies, how, when?

    Do you intend to grouse over this obvious injustice or will you do something to make generational transition a reality, sooner rather than later? It's a tall order. You'll have to be prepared to drive the neoliberal money-changers out of the temple, be they Conservative, Liberal or New Democrat.

    1. Hi anon...what I object to is the way a government is being scapegoated for the actions of a greedy generation that refuses to accept its collective responsibility. It's absurd and counterproductive because it allows people to blame others and avoid making the sacrifices that all need to make. The hypocrisy in that regard is nauseating. For example I love driving, but have given up that pleasure so as not to contribute to the car mania of Canadians, 25 million and counting. How many of those would be eco champions are riding around in gas guzzling SUVs? Quite a few I imagine. As I tried to point out in my post, fighting climate change seriously will mean transforming our lives in a way many can't even imagine. For without that, throwing the money-changers out of the temple won't mean much...

  3. For me I agree, but the big problem is the left is Hillary or what other fossil the world has created to be a force for good. We need a global JT.

    1. Hi Steve...We need new and young leaders to get the message out: YOUR flashy lifestyle is threatening OUR future, so stop it or else. And you're right, that message has to be global. It seems at this point to be an impossible challenge, but the effects of climate change will make it easier, and reveal the climate change deniers to be the criminals they are...l

  4. Anonymous4:31 PM

    There will be no generational justice in this country. The pigs stuffed themselves and then burned down the barn. And did you notice that in your beloved Quebec the new government has decided that you will have to wait until you are 21 before you can smoke dope legally? We don't need generational justice, we need a generational war.

    1. Hi anon...No, the last thing we need is a generational war. I don't mind embarrassing the older generation, but there are many good older people who have inspired me since I was a young boy, so we need to include them in our crusade to save the world. And yes, I have noticed that the new Leggo government of Quebec is planning to discriminate against young people for the most absurd reasons. But anyone who offends the millenial generation will live to regret it, for they are a large voting bloc, and time is on their side...

  5. Anonymous7:41 PM

    Those two maps of Britain are something, and show how reactionary so many older people are. Shame on them, just because they're old shouldn't mean they're above criticism.

    1. Hi anon...the reason I showed those two maps was to show the gulf that separates the young and the old, and how if the young were given more political clout they could transform a society. But yes, the old are allowed to get away with murder and those who would vote for the Cons should be challenged to explain themselves...

  6. Anonymous8:53 PM

    Hope I am wrong but the projection that the next generation is going to save the world seems somewhat delusional and only serves to partition like minded people into smaller groups based on age. A 1970's survey would have yielded the same political profile and look how that turned out. The Nazis and Chinese also demonstrated that given the right dose of propaganda the youth can be programmed to do their bidding.
    We are fighting a global propaganda war facilitated by evolving technology that is becoming more psychologically targeted and sophisticated. Although the psychological propaganda that triggers the desired response is different lets not shoot ourselves in the foot by visualizing it through age, gender, or race specific glasses.

    1. Hi RT....if the new generation can't save the world who will? Certainly not the older generations who have got us to where we are now. I'm not suggesting that millennials are some kind of super generation that can keep the tide from rising or make deserts bloom. But what I am saying is that they are a blank slate, upon which a new way of living can be more easily imagined. Many of them will never have a house to call their own, so can imagine more collective ways to live, and don't have the same love affair with the car that other generations had. In short, because society has made them poorer and condemned them many of them to jobs with no security and no future, they are ideally suited to lead the revolution that we need so badly. And if the older generation keeps putting them down, or mocking them, they will pay a heavy price...

  7. Anonymous10:24 PM

    There's a reason Tessa May doesn't lose any sleep over your red British map. It's the same reason we now have a Doug Ford majority in Ontario.

    This excellent American PSA explains it all - it's called Don't Vote. I urge you and your young friends to watch it, if you can fit a 1-minute break into your gaming and Netflix viewing.

    1. Hi anon...it's funny, but I actually thought of running that YouTube video at the end of this post. But I thought it might muddy the waters, and while the intention is a noble one, I thought it was a little condescending to both young and old. Just like your comment about gaming and Netflix viewing. For the record, I don't play video games, and haven't played them for years. And neither do I swoon over Netflix like many older people I know. So kindly keep your stereotypes to yourself...

  8. Anonymous8:33 AM

    I've been more or less despairing for years over the lack of interest among young people in voting. It's the other side of the coin...the elderly who will crawl over broken glass to elect politicians to continue failed policies...and the young who bear the brunt of their failed policies refusing to take the time to vote. So very sad, crazy, maddening... you find the word!

    1. Hi anon...people said that young people wouldn't vote in the last election, and the Cons did everything they could to suppress their vote. But they still turned out in droves, and were largely responsible for handing Justin Trudeau his majority. But I agree we do have a double challenge: encourage young people to keep on voting, and encourage older people to stop voting for Cons who can only lead them to a bad place....

  9. As a person over 60 who is much farther left than anyone mentioned or alluded to here (except Corbyn) I'm rather annoyed by concepts of generational war. There are unfortunately reasons many people become more conservative with age, and the first caricature in this post nails it - petroleum, car and suburban life addiction. The kind of toxic, ecocidal development that is both supported by Ford and Legault and shores up their reign.

    1. Hi lagatta...as I have made clear many times, I don't support the idea of a generational war. But for the first time in my life I feel that one may be inevitable unless the young can feel that they have the power to determine their future. Right now many feel that their concerns are not being taken seriously, and that they are being treated as mere slaves. And that's got to stop or there will be trouble. As Jackie mentioned, toxic masculinity is also to blame for saddling us with Neanderthals like Trump, Ford, and Legault. And hopefully the new generation can also put and end to that, so that every time I hear Ford speak, I don't feel like throwing a brick at the TV...

    2. Well, I hope they exempt non trust-fund women who often spend our last full-time working decade in penury and who have only the pension and income supplement to live on. I know so many women in that category - and not to stereotype, many gay men - who did not enjoy the old boys' club.

  10. All Baby Boomers are Not Selfish........or materialistic.....or Greedy! Just to make it Clear that I hate being "boxed into" a certain type!

  11. Yes, while the macro view is important it is also important to explain it and not stereotype. After all, Sanders and Corbyn certainly aren't young. And there is no guarantee that the current generation of radical youth will remain so; many of those conservative boomers are people I actually took part in demos and other actions with, 40 years ago. Alain Dubuc of La Presse is a case in point.

    Living conditions have a huge influence on ideology; http://carfree.fr/index.php/2008/02/02/lideologie-sociale-de-la-bagnole-1973/

    https://twitter.com/unevenearth/status/1028393592157556736 Social ideology of the car - André Gorz 1973

    Carcentric society doesn't only mean being "boxed in" within one's private vehicle, but also being boxed into postwar suburban developments that continue to expand malignantly. And which drive more and more consumption, first at shopping centres, and now "online", though the actual merchandise is delivered in trucks and very often returned because it wasn't the right size (as opposed to real shops where people tried clothing on) or some other reason. It is hugely wasteful.

    Once a significant layer of young people are able to find steady employment (even though many never will) they will be subjected to the same consumerist pressures and selfishness as many of my former comrades in arms.

    I also would like to point out that there were more than a few seniors taking part in the 2012 student movement here in Québec - which lasted well into the autumn and was largely successful. I knew quite a few of them including a neighbour two streets over, who had worked organising unions or community groups. They were a few years older than me and some had even been swept up by the War Measures Act in 1970 (no, none had belonged to the FLQ).

    Another aspect of carcentric society is that we associate adventure and travel, a human longing that goes back to prehistory, with private car ownership. In some countries railway and tram systems are efficent, clean and widespread. Alas we remember how Thatcher's contempt for people who took public transport only boosted her support of privatising what has been railways, the underground, tram and bus lines... And New Labour never undid the damage.