My parents said similar things about me and their parents said similar things about them but, nevertheless, I am going to say this about the kids of today.
Here’s a story of a young girl from New Jersey who joined Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Youth” Advisory Group because:
“I was in Canada in July near Halifax/St. John’s and saw the ship building factories with smoke billowing in the background.”
I know this source isn’t the New York Times but St. John’s is about 900 kilometres from Halifax so it would be hard to be near either one at the same time. Second, I am not sure what ship building factories are but the Halifax Shipyard doesn’t have smoke stacks.
Of course she could have just stayed in New Jersey where there are 10 times the smoke stacks.
My point is not to question a young teen’s knowledge of geography (nor the editor/journalist in New Jersey).
We seem to be raising a cohort of visceral 140 character, black & white thinkers. Instead of thinking all industrial activity is ‘bad’ while driving cars, watching TVs, running electricity from coal in houses, burning carbon to fly to Africa, the younger generation needs to have a conversation about what they want to give up. Outsourcing smoke stacks to India and China should be as upsetting to Al Gore’s youth advisory group as phantom smoke stacks in Halifax/St. John’s.
They (we) should have a serious conversation about what they want to give up. They (we) are consuming more products and stuff than every before. We are eating more.
I’ve said it here and in my column that I am very happy to have a conversation about ratcheting down consumption and moving back to more local production. My son has one video game player (Wii) while most of his friends have at least two of the systems. There are multiple TVs in every house. Most teenagers have cell phones, laptops, 20 pairs of shoes.
What I am not for is outsourcing all of our pollution to India and then patting ourselves on the back for being eco-friendly. If we are going to produce natural gas and use it – I think we should do it here – responsibly – but we should reap the economic benefit here.
Lowering our carbon footprint has to be about lowering our consumption over time. I heard a podcast ysterday where a guy was adamant that for the U.S. to dig out of its huge fiscal hole, it will have to grow its GDP by 4-5% per year for the next 20 years. The U.S. is already the most over consuming nation in the world and we are going to more than double the size of the economy again over the next 15 years or so?
If we shift away from consumption and back a little more to local production, if we massively ratchet down our expections (one car, smaller houses, one TV, 2 Webkinz instead of 20, etc.) I believe we could have an orderly transition to a less consumptive world without breaking the economy and our way of life.
That’s the discussion I want kids to have – and a little basic geography for journalists.