Greta Thunberg’s trip to New York will emit just as much carbon as anyone else’s – report

Credit to The Sun on this one:

 “Reports in Germany have now revealed two people will have to jet out to America to return the ship to Europe.

Some news sources claimed a further two will also fly out to meet up with Greta, however those reports have yet to be confirmed.

The non-stop journey eco warrior Greta is making is – in theory –  the lowest-carbon option to cross the Atlantic.

However, Team Malizia spokeswoman Holly Cova said of the flights: “We only have one boat, so they cannot easily sail over to meet them.”

Cova said the team recognises it’s “an imperfect solution” but believes offsetting the emissions by funding carbon-reducing projects elsewhere “is better than doing nothing.”

You know, Ms Thunberg’s fans will naturally say this is a savage attack on a sixteen year old girl who’s only trying to make the world a better place, and all that stuff, but that’s not really the point here.

Fame, and public speaking, and media criticism, and all those things – none of them come easy to a young person of Ms Thunberg’s age. Whether you agree with her or not, there is no doubt that she is, genuinely, very brave, and that she is, genuinely, raising the profile of her cause.

The thing about this story, I think, is that it shows the impossibility of what she is asking. With the very best will in the world, and even with a huge personal sacrifice, Greta Thunberg isn’t able to get to New York without causing as many or more carbon emissions as anyone else.

And yet, go she must. It is, from her point of view, a necessary journey, no matter the cost to the environment.

Her sacrifice in sailing there in relatively spartan conditions (I note that some on the Irish right have disputed how spartan those conditions are, but let’s face it, two weeks in a yacht in the northern atlantic ain’t exactly my idea of a holiday) is commendable, but, in the end, pointless. Greta will emit just as much carbon as any other person crossing the Atlantic this year.

In all of the furore around Thunberg, the impossibility of what she is asking of the public is often forgotten. To halt global warming, according to the science which we are always told to listen to, and never to question, emissions must not just stop rising. They must fall, by more than half. Planting trees and switching to hybrid or electric cars is just not going to do it. And flying, put simply, will have to go.

I credit Thunberg for trying to set an example, but what, exactly, is that example? Sailing across the Atlantic went out of fashion in the early 1800’s, with the advent of the steam engine. The example that she’s setting, whether she likes it or not, is an example of just how much progress and convenience humans will have to give up to reverse climate change. And sure, lots of Irish people will applaud her for having the consistency to set that example.

But, and let’s face the truth here: Not a single one of them is going to set sail to the Canary Islands on their holiday.

How’s Greta getting back to Europe, by the way? I haven’t heard much coverage of that one.


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