People are angry.
That is the only universal takeaway I have gleaned from this week.
From the universality of the internet, right down to the three people in my house, everyone just seems to be revelling in getting riled up. And all of it is centered on a 16-year-old girl from Sweden…
It doesn’t matter what you think of her, what matters is that you are thinking about her.
When it comes to Greta you either share her rage at the looming climate disaster, or you’re irate at her role as a pawn for peddling a grand hoax. There may be a few people that sit somewhere in the middle, but I suspect they are few and far between.
Now, none of this should come as much of a surprise. After all, the climate change debate has never been what I’d call civil.
It is a matter that has plenty of passionate opinions on both sides. Anger just happens to be the easy way to express that passion.
However, this week it seems to me that the heat has been dialed up a notch. Greta arrived at the UN like gasoline on a bonfire. And it’s all people could talk about (apart from the footy) all week.
In fact it even managed to divide the Port Phillip Publishing office…
Divided we sit
Like any workspace, the PPP office is at its best when it’s lively. That’s my takeaway as an editor and an analyst anyway.
Word of mouth is a great way to learn or discuss trends and ideas. Insights that can often help spark new trains of thought that could turn into a great investment thesis.
But I digress. I can’t reveal all my secrets.
Anyway, my point is, earlier this week Greta became the subject of conversation. Quite a contentious conversation at that.
Some people can see her point of view, others not so much…
My colleagues Greg Canavan and Vern Gowdie are two very outspoken critics of climate change. Both of whom shared their very frank opinion on the matter in the Rum Rebellion this week.
Safe to say they are not fans of Greta.
In contrast, some of my other colleagues erred on the side of the 16-year-old. They could see the merit and need to address climate change.
For all intents and purposes we have a spread of opinions in our office when it comes to climate change. Not that it really has much impact on how we interact. We make sure politics never get in the way of our work.
What did surprise me though is how little love everyone had for Greta. Even if they agree with what she stands for, they don’t really agree with how she composes herself.
If you have seen her UN speech then you will know what I’m talking about. The way Greta talks and presents is certainly passionate, but it can also come across as exaggerated.
Let me be clear, I’m not trying to demean or belittle Greta. Rather I just want to point out the observations that I am seeing.
Remember, to some people that exaggeration is exactly what they like about her. An injustice requires calling out, and that is exactly what she is doing.
Anger is her weapon and anger is her critic’s response.
So, everyone is angry — on both sides — but I fail to see what it achieves. I’m left scratching my head as to what end these means lead to.
As far as I can tell, they don’t lead anywhere.
Anger is a fantastic tool to inspire or rally others, we’re seeing that play out right now, but without an objective it’s just aimless rage.
Greta has certainly inspired and captivated an audience, but I have yet to see her channel it toward any solution or goal. Strip back the politics and she is merely being angry for the sake of being angry.
Her critics aren’t any better though. They continue to verbally attack and belittle this 16-year-old personally.
Challenge her words, her opinions all you want, but resorting to name-calling is simply petty. Everyone should be above that.
And if you think ‘children’ can’t be a voice for change, then I urge you to look up the Newsboys’ strike from 1899. Fighting for what’s right isn’t restricted by age.
As I said though, this week hasn’t been about right and wrong. It is simply about getting angry and enjoying it. But I ask these irate people, why?
What good does this anger do? There is no call to action, no direction. It is contrived angst.
As an in-depth article on American Anger from The Atlantic noted earlier this year:
‘Corporatized outrage can be remarkably effective, but it’s fundamentally manipulative, and tends to further the interests of the already rich and powerful, often at the expense of the little guy. Rarely is it a force for social good. Nowhere has that been more evident than in the media industry.’
Divisiveness is what keeps us tuned in. It ensures the news cycle keeps chugging along, and more importantly that you keep watching.
My advice, and my aim today, is to help you see through this. Stay informed, but don’t buy into the anger — on either side. Because if you do, it will almost certainly blind you.
I’m not saying this to make me sound like some holier than thou preacher. It’s not easy reigning in our emotions. But, if you can do it, I promise you will be better off.
As for the climate change debate, well I can’t tell you how it will end. No one can.
But, you can bet your bottom dollar it won’t be going away anytime soon. And whatever direction it leads to, I guarantee that there will be money to be made from it.
Keep a cool head and you just might be able to see it coming before everyone else.
Editor, Money Weekend
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