There’s too much blah, blah, blah instead of saving the environment

Tuesday October 26 2021
Greta Thunberg

Students hold placards and a banner showing 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg (right), who seeks to stop global warming and climate change, as they take part in a sit-in against global warming in central Rome on March 22, 2019. PHOTO | AFP


When I first listened to the little girl from Norway berating the world’s elders as people who were lost in their “blah, blah, blah” instead of taking resolute action to address climate change, I was rather amused.

It is not something that we in this part of the world are used to, to hear a young person — and a female at that — talking to elders in that tone. It denotes “lack of respect” and a deficit in “proper parenting”.

I could not help think what her father or mother would have done, say, a century ago (in the case of Europe) or (in the case of Africa), just the other day.

Unfortunately for us of a certain vintage, we have to deal with the new realities of a fast-changing world, left to reminisce, rather impotently, about the way things used to be when men were men, women stayed in their place and children were good.

Reality tells us that with every new generation, the new humans are called upon to be healthier, bigger, taller, stronger, faster, tougher, sharper, wealthier, and wiser. I don’t know about the last adjective, but (maybe) noisier?

But it is true that having provided the best education to our newest members of the human race, having eliminated most of the killer diseases and ailments that culled babies before they got to five years of age, the world has come to a place where children have become more precocious, more aware of their surroundings than their parents and grandparents ever were, and more assertive in saying what they would like their world to look like.


This being the case, these young fellows know that by the very nature of things they are likely to be around this earth long after their elders have gone west, and living with whatever destruction their elders have wrought on Planet Earth.

So, they have decided to speak out, and that spirit is spreading across the world, even if its intensity is not uniform.

It is true that the concerns inhabiting the youth of northern Europe will not be the same ones preoccupying their counterparts in Africa, Latin America or Asia. It is true that in our neck of the woods more existential issues, such as what shall we eat tonight? still hold a tight grip on our conscience.

Still, even though the acuity of climatic conditions and awareness around them will vary, they are not any less real anywhere than they are anywhere else.

We experience these challenges in varying forms in our diverse corners, but humanity is united in the immutable reality that tells us that we have only one world.

Reindeer populations are decimated in certain parts of the European north, but so are tropical trees and erstwhile perennial rivers and streams, certain medicinal vegetables and fauna.

We are all in this together, and if we are deceived into believing that we are safer than anyone else it must be because those who are in a position to show us the light are themselves blind.

As I write this, I have been peering out the window at the north Dar es Salaam sky to try and catch any signs of rain clouds, because this is about time when the short “vuli” showers are supposed to be upon us; it looks like they will take a rain check this time, and that could mean short food supply in the next few months.

As Greta says, there is so much blah, blah, blah from all the politicians on the most fundamental issues, including such simple but life-and-death matters as afforestation, damming for rainwater harvesting, curbing fossil-fuel energy appetites… but all these issues are heard about when our politicians have seen votes that need capturing, and then, nothing.

The depletion of our forests has gone on at a pace that suggests we are bent of committing suicide.

The use of charcoal, long the hallmark of our poorer members of the human family who do not have electric appliances of the rich world, has now become an arrangement of choice for the barbecue elites, and so on.

Now we are being told that the more we continue hankering after beef the more we will be contributing to global warming because of the very requirements for the production of beef cattle.

It is suggested we may have to start dampening our appetite for beef in the more carnivorous areas of the world even as we continue struggling to get adequate protein diets to the protein-deficient populations of the same world.

It is the same conundrum we seem to be coming up against perennially: one part of the world is suffering from want at the same time as another part is bedevilled by surfeit, and the two will never meet.

And yet it is evident that what we need is unrelenting efforts to keep these issues at the very centre of our preoccupations.

No one part of the world will meaningfully tackle any part of these challenges alone.

Yet the will to action is woefully missing that is what the youth are telling us: Blah, blah, blah. Think Greta Thunberg.

Jenerali Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via jeneralionline tv. E-mail: [email protected]