TAKE THAT: Greta Thunberg has pushed the buttons of those in power but we're all just as bad when it comes to really taking her, and science's, message seriously.
TAKE THAT: Greta Thunberg has pushed the buttons of those in power but we're all just as bad when it comes to really taking her, and science's, message seriously. Jason DeCrow

How Greta is holding us all to account

THE outrage being hurled at 16-year-old Greta Thunberg in response to her recent UN address is understandable.

She is holding the rich and powerful to account on climate change, unapologetically, with warnings of dire consequences if they don't do anything about it.

She is pretty angry about having her future shafted by adult greed at the expense of the planet's health but being blackmailed by a kid they deem to be a mouthy, mentally deranged teenager never sits well with people used to getting their own way.

So they're sticking it to her, that demon child from Sweden.

This, of course, distracts from the most confronting question Greta's demands pose - is our way of life going to be the death of us?

Sure, it's Armageddon territory but the backlash over her gall for pointing out such a terrifying prospect is too much to bear for the ostriches in charge and their supporters.

So here we are, hating on a Swedish lass who dared to say enough is enough. Whose exceptional timing of such an ultimatum meant harnessing a groundswell of support that has rattled the establishment and caused a tribe of old white men to respond the only way they know how - by belittling and dismissing the irritant because that's what they've always done and, up until now, enjoyed great success from doing so.

For these dissenters, they only thing they have to lose is their bank balance and God-given right to capitalism, so it makes sense to throw a blanket on this unfriendly business model of climate change nonsense.

By the time the planet is on fire and water is the most valuable thing since Google shares, these geezers will ironically be composting the ground with their rotting carcasses while their children's children work out what to do with a worthless inheritance before the world ends.

But who cares about that when we can brag about all the lifestyle advances we've made and how lucky and spoilt (thanks to parents presumably) the younger generation are because of that.

The inconvenient truth is that adults love all that stuff too but it comes at an unacknowledged environmental cost. It took how much water to make that $4 t-shirt?

This seemingly limitless approach to making new stuff and buying new stuff while a few make a motza is being challenged by this climate change stuff.

It suits those the system favours to view this climate change thing as a distant, manageable threat, so the heel-dragging, science-ignoring, denying-the-whole-damn-thing brigade can keep grandma in porridge (a brilliant term once overheard during a family argument about inheritance and their entitlement to it).

But it's not just those holding the biggest bowls of porridge who need a kneecapping from Greta and her junior ilk.

It's the inheritance we all take for granted. That the planet will always be here so we can continue to do what we want, when we want, however we want and where we want, without acknowledgement of the environmental consequences of doing so. Everyone's to blame for the predicament we find our planet in.

We can't even discuss banning balloons without exploding with outrage because our fun is more important than the consideration of choking sea life. And were kicking and screaming in the supermarket aisles when forced to give up free single use plastic bags.

A dead turtle entangled in fishing equipment.
A dead turtle entangled in fishing equipment. Contributed

We seem nonplussed about exposing living creatures to a slow, painful death so long as we can keep our party going and our shopping easy. Then we double down because we're too lazy and thoughtless to dispose of these questionable items appropriately.

So how's the planet going to fare against that kind of attitude? A place where our fun and personal convenience surpasses animal torture? Sounds rather psychopathic when put like that.

So you can see a pattern forming. Towns and industries whose livelihoods hinge on processes that are environmentally disastrous, places that need to rip water from elsewhere to survive, diverting river systems, wanting more irrigation rights, farms that needs huge amounts of propping up to survive during times of drought, a term that should now just be referred to as the weather. The passage of self-destruction lost in economical priorities.

An empty dam in Queensland.
An empty dam in Queensland. Max Fleet

That we have the right to keep moving ahead unchallenged, growing the coffers, doing the same things, the same way we always have while we pray for rain, lower temperatures and stable sea levels. That we find it more traumatic to leave a dying town than an actual dying planet.

Our track record of actually doing anything to reverse looming environmental threats and disasters makes an Edgar Allan Poe novel look positively upbeat.

Extinction of entire species, illegal and legal land clearing, unsustainable animal and crop production, toxic chemicals spewing out of industrial orifices, chucking litter all over the place, consuming blindly without a thought about how, where and why?

The mountain pygmy possum is one of the species identified at being at serious risk of extinction.
The mountain pygmy possum is one of the species identified at being at serious risk of extinction. Jay Town

That's just the tip of of the melting iceberg. God forbid we give up something we know isn't good for the planet because it will impact on our lifestyle, our entitlement or way of life.

Our way of life does have an expiry date because it is colliding with a changing climate (I'm going with the long-suffering scientists, not Alan Jones) and despite best efforts in ignoring it "business as usual” style, paying it forward for another generation to deal with, or battening down the hatches at your place to try to stave it off, Mother Nature is no pushover and she can't be wooed by a cash payment.

Contrary to current thinking, an iPhone will only get you so far when there's no water left.

So while Greta flipping the bird at white men in suits holding bags of burning money as the planet fries is one image that springs to mind, the other more palatable one is a generation of young people who took this stuff seriously enough to salvage what was left so they can make some semblance of a life for themselves.

Despite the shouting down from the right and those with environmentally-unfriendly interests, I have to hold out hope that the scientists and a 16-year-old have got this... for all our sakes.