What do kids want? Climate action. When do they want it? During double maths

  • Date: 17/02/19
  • Rod Liddle, The Sunday Times

Those kids on the march had no idea of the issues surrounding global warming. If they did, they’d have been demonstrating outside the Chinese embassy or told Mummy not to pick them up in the 4×4 once the march had ended.

Such a hectic life these kids lead. On Friday, my lovely 13-year-old daughter was out on the streets of Canterbury with her schoolmates demanding something be done, right now, about climate change, because adults are letting us down and it’s our future and it isn’t fair that horrid right-wing old white men are deliberately destroying the planet.

The next day she was at Gatwick with her mum, off for a half-term ski trip to Norway. I hope she got the irony: all those emissions, just so she could have a chance to snap her femur in half. Still, at least she wasn’t going to the Alps, where the wilderness has been murdered by skiers, the mountains stripped of forest and festooned with lifts and blue runs created by snow machines. Is there a more environmentally ruinous pastime than skiing?

Perhaps she did get the irony. Her placard for the march read, rather cryptically: “There are no narwhals on Mars. Save the planet with narwhals!” I think she was taking the piss — a habitual disposition — and very grateful for a chance to miss double maths.

Which is why I was kindly when she returned home and didn’t confiscate her mobile phone, cancel her ski trip, turn the central heating off, ban fast food and tell her that henceforth she’d be walking to school. “Drat! You pesky kids! You’ve made me see the light. From now on we’ll be a carbon-neutral family.”

The annoyance for me was largely at the partisan nature of the teachers who allowed this “strike” (it isn’t a strike. They are kids. They have no labour to withhold) to go ahead. It is because they agreed entirely with its aims; they were politically on board. All the children had to do was write a letter explaining why they wished to go on the march and they would be permitted to do so. Fine.

So next week, when my daughter wants to go on a pro-Brexit march, or a demo protesting about uncontrolled immigration, that should be OK too, Sir, no? In my dreams. If she wrote a letter expressing her views on either matter, we’d have social services and the Old Bill round our house before you could say Tommy Robinson. She’d probably be in care by the end of the week and fostered out to a Malian transgendered family,

The Brexit march is a good case in point, actually. She really believes in that. On the issue of leaving the EU, she makes me look like Nick Clegg. But then she’s, you know, 13. When I was 13 I had a soft spot for the Baader-Meinhof gang, especially Ulrike.

The other political point being made by teachers is the “it’s their future!” garbage, part of a concerted attempt to portray young people — despite their palpable, desperate pig-ignorance and lack of experience — as the Holders of the Truth, while castigating the older generation as being cynical, corrupt and nearly dead, so they don’t matter. In general, the young are left wing, the old right wing, so teachers and leftie politicians want the voting age lowered. […]

Those kids on the march had no idea of the issues surrounding global warming. If they did, they’d have been demonstrating outside the Chinese embassy at that country’s relentlessly growing emissions, or campaigning for more nuclear plants. Better still, they’d have told Mummy not to pick them up in the 4×4 once the march had ended and they’d enjoyed a cheeky Nando’s: we’ll walk home, or take the bus.

But in their schools there is no real questioning on the subtext of climate change, on the important issues. Just an endless teenage whine of “Stop it now!”.

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