I see that virtue signalling has now spread to our school children. Thousands are apparently so moved by the state of the planet that they have taken to striking from school on occasional Fridays. I wonder how many would turn up for a 9am climate strike on a Sunday morning instead of going to football?
Surely this is organised truancy? Does it somehow not matter if it is with support from ‘informed’ parents who are already bought-in to treating climate change as a new religion? What has happened to our society when it is acceptable, if not encouraged, for kids to take time out of school to ‘protest’?
Politicians have been falling over themselves to congratulate these ‘courageous’ children for ‘taking a stand’. Eh? Courageous? Environment Secretary Michael Gove backed the protesting children, saying in a video: “Dear school climate strikers, we agree. Collective action of the kind you’re championing can make a difference, and a profound one.” The only profound difference I can think of is a reduction in educational ‘outcomes’ among those who are protesting.
Last night on our Leeds-based BBC evening news, we had a mother proudly explaining how she had asked her little perisher if he wanted to take part in the ‘protest’.
‘He wasn’t forced, he chose to come along himself,’ she opined, sipping her chia juice from a trendy Keeper Cup. ‘There was no pressure put on him at all’. Ok, I was joking about the cup and the juice – but it was probably there, just out of shot.
No, I’m sure he had to force himself to have a Friday off school and be on the news. Jumping up and down in front of a TV camera, waving a witless placard about ‘My Future Is At Stake’ is far more fun than a bit of double maths, isn’t it? Some of yesterday’s little geniuses complained, when interviewed by equally clueless journalists, that ‘the council’ hadn’t done enough to prevent climate change. Right. Give us some detail, please? No?
I wonder how many of those present will have been driven home later by Mummy or Daddy in a 4×4? And how many actually walk to school? What about their mobile phone use? (Apparently around 85% of their emission rates come from the production phase). What about giving up some international, carbon-heavy holidays in summer? A boycott of skiing holidays in order to minimise the destruction of mountainside trees for ski runs? Will they abandon throwaway clothing, with all those toxic chemicals in the fabrics? Stop eating meat? Give up fast food? It would be a start if they managed to get the wrappers into the nearest litter bin during lunch hour around my area.
Time was when being virtuous involved doing something that required effort, or even sacrifice of some sort. Now you just have to say the ‘right’ words, express shock and horror at the thing you profess to be against and ignore the detail in favour of generalisation. The more angry you profess to be about something, the better person you are. It’s easy to stand around complaining about climate change and saying all the right words, isn’t it? Doing something, however, is a bit less attractive. It may cause some er, inconvenience. The sad thing is that many of these junior protesters will be convinced that what they are doing is virtuous.
One wonders about the intelligence of our next generation of politicians when they think that protesting about climate change on the town hall steps with their mothers is actually going to achieve something. ‘My Future Is At Stake’ – well it may be less at stake if you were in school instead of imagining yourself to be a ‘catalyst for change’.