Climate change has sparked a lot of inter-generational controversy. Millennials, in particular, are fond of blaming it all on the Boomer generation, disingenuously distancing themselves from the problem. In a word, that's rubbish.
You don't see millennials disproportionately going to jail to stop the Justin Trudeau Memorial Pipeline to tidewater. That's mainly First Nations and life-long, law-abiding greyhairs defying the government to defend the environment and our grandchildren's future.
It's not millennials standing up to fight this. No, the fight has mainly skipped their generation. It's these kids who are fighting for the future.
They're inspiring George Monbiot to sing their praises.
My generation and the generations that went before have failed you. We failed to grasp the basic premise of intergenerational justice: that you cannot apply discount rates to human life. In other words, the life of someone who has not been born will be of no less value than the life of someone who already exists. We have lived as if your lives had no importance, as if any resource we encountered was ours and ours alone to use as we wished, regardless of the impact on future generations. In doing so, we created a cannibal economy: we ate your future to satisfy our greed.
It is true that the people of my generation are not equally to blame. Broadly speaking, ours is a society of altruists governed by psychopaths. We have allowed a tiny number of phenomenally rich people, and the destructive politicians they fund, to trash our life-support systems. While some carry more blame than others, our failure to challenge the oligarchs who are sacking the Earth and to overthrow their illegitimate power, is a collective failure. Together, we have bequeathed you a world that – without drastic and decisive action – may soon become uninhabitable.
Every day at home, we tell you that if you make a mess you should clear it up. We tell you that you should take responsibility for your own lives. But we have failed to apply these principles to ourselves. We walk away from the mess we have made, in the hope that you might clear it up.Oh, I know, I know. Millennials are at that stage in life where they're building their careers, buying their homes, having their babies. Not much time left over for anything but whinging. Wait a second. Did I say having babies? Yes they are, plenty of them. That's not an excuse for sitting this one out. That's all the more reason to take a stand, dig in, protect those precious little babies, carve out the best possible future for them that you can. It's no excuse that it might (if you do it right, probably will) land you in jail even if that means a criminal record and no more winter getaways in Florida, California, Vegas or Hawaii, no more cross-border shopping.
You freely blame an older generation for something they didn't understand, not in time, but your kids, that's a different story entirely. You did that with your eyes wide open. Now act like it.