Opinion: If these kids really care about the climate, why are they still breathing?

By Duncan Garner

By Duncan Garner

Before you jump down my throat, nobody cares about the environment more than me.

I have a garden, and since my wife and I broke up, I’ve let it grow wildly out of control, so please don’t tell me I’m not doing enough for plants. They’re ten times bigger than they used to be, and I haven’t cut them once.

The weeds also suffocated my cat, so that’s one less thing for our native birds to worry about.

I’ve always had an open mind about climate change, too. If Earth really is getting warmer, and the science is out on that, by the way: the United Nations and NASA say one thing, but our own Metservice says another. Earlier today, it was 15 degrees. Now it’s 10. All I’m saying is, where’s the consistency?

But if it really is getting warmer, then I’m not opposed to doing something about it. You don’t have to be a pot-smoking greenie to know how ugly it gets when you toss and turn all night in a pool of your own sweat. I know some people just stick their feet out the bottom of the sheets for some relief, but when you’re like me and you’re just a giant torso, that’s not an option.

So I’m all in favour of action, but there has to be balance, and the last thing we want to do is get carried away.

Saving the planet is important, but we can’t let it interfere with the whole reason we’re here in the first place: the morning commute, paperwork, afternoon sudoku, buying meat from the supermarket without being reminded it was alive, and the right to watch the 6pm news without being introspective.

And for our kids? It’s the schoolday.

When we teach kids that they can take one of 200-odd school days off, and that it’s fine because they’re raising awareness of a global crisis that could result in catastrophe for the human race, then we might as well be teaching them it’s okay to take one day off work to raise awareness of a global crisis that could result in catastrophe for the human race. And can you imagine if people did that?

There are only two reasons to take a day off work: if you’re sick, or if you’re pretending to be sick.

Ask yourself, and ask your children to ask themselves: Is climate change more important than going to school and learning about A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Is climate change more important than learning how to make a soda volcano? Is climate change more important than that one video the teacher puts on because they got bored and have just had enough? I doubt it. When else are children going to see James and the Giant Peach?

So I know a lot of left wingers get upset when they hear people on the right saying these kids should still be in school, but understand they’re not being flippant about it; it’s just a sincere expression of one of the things the right cares about most: public school.

Besides, protest is about sacrifice. When workers go on strike, they have to sacrifice time and money. What are these kids sacrificing? They’re sacrificing one day of public school, and that’s nothing.

Wait, hold on.

My point is, what are these children actually doing to help the environment? If you’re telling me we produce too many emissions, but you’re still getting dropped off to school by your parents in a car, why should I listen to you? If you’re telling me we need to be better to the planet, but you still fly in planes and see the world, why should I listen to you? If you’re telling me carbon dioxide is warming our planet, why are you still accepting air through your alveoli into your capillaries and engaging in the cellular level exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide? Why do you then exhale it?

What I’m saying is I don’t listen to hypocrites. That’s why if my doctor is fat, or drinks, or smoked once, or tells me he has cancer, then I say “Sorry, no, I’d rather go to someone who knows what they’re talking about.” This is simple due diligence.

So maybe you didn’t use a car, or a plane. Maybe you built a $30 million zero-carbon yacht and sailed for two weeks across the Atlantic at age 16. Okay, good start. But when you got to New York, did your lunch come in a plastic wrap? Sorry, hard to take you seriously.

And that’s the point, isn’t it? Practice what you preach, or don’t preach at all.

I’m open to taking these kids seriously, when they stop talking all this talk, and start walking the walk. I’ll take them seriously when they start walking everywhere they go, refuse rides in cars and buses and trains, when they plant enough trees to offset the power used in the hospitals where they were born, when they stop flying or taking the Interislander, when they refuse to eat any food that contains meat, dairy or was transported with an engine, when they stop using cell phones powered with lithium batteries, and when they stop breathing.

Anything less is hypocrisy.