It’s hard to scare the youth out of economic policies that will jeopardize the 401(k)s of their parents or even the prospects for their own employment. The main reason is that they’re even more afraid that they might not have an inhabitable planet to live on. Survival has a way of cutting through the bullshit.
Here’s Eric Peters:
“You know it’s time for change when children act like leaders and leaders act like children,” read the hand-painted placards in Bangladesh and Berlin. “There is no Planet B,” read signs in Sydney and Santiago. “We are skipping our lessons to teach you one,” chanted millions of children, skipping school, in every major nation except for China, which banned the Sept 20th Climate Strike protests. “This is just the beginning. Change is coming – like it or not,” tweeted Greta Thunberg, the 16yr old Swedish climate activist, an emerging environmental icon. And of course, she’s right. Change is our only constant. Earth’s infinitely complex systems are always in flux and connected in ways we are only now beginning to measure, let alone understand. We’ve entered earth’s sixth mass extinction. Insect biomass collapsed by upwards of 75% during the past few decades and is falling 2.5% annually. Some 80% of wild plants rely on insects for pollination; 60% of birds rely on insects for food. 25% of the North American bird population disappeared since 1970. The ocean’s fish population is 50% lower in that time, many commercial species are down 75% or more. Marine mammals, birds and reptile populations are 50% smaller.
These statistics are often lost amidst the intense focus on greenhouse emissions which are rising 2.5% per year. Amongst the many unpredictable consequences of such rapid change is the rise of youth activism across the planet. They’re connected and coordinating in ways humanity has never experienced. While our aging central bankers gradually come to terms with the fact they do not understand the complexity of the system that they themselves created, our global youth are forming a new vision of their future. And while it’s notoriously difficult to predict the behavior of such complex systems, it seems a fair bet to expect a global green new deal, funded by bonds, bought by bankers.
Josh here – I’m with Eric. I think it’s a matter of time before the environment becomes the biggest issue for voters in the United States. There are reasonable debates to be had over how much of the change in the climate is for anthropogenic reasons and how much is out of our control – but those debates will not become the main thing. The main thing is that we’ve got a generation of 73 million millennials in the United States and then Gen Z right behind them, and they are going to care about not just their future, but their present. And in the present, the effects of climate change are being felt around the world and here at home.
There will be fortunes lost and fortunes made as the next generation turns rolling back climate change into the centerpiece of our time. It’s good to be aware that this is coming one way or another, soon enough.