EDITORIAL – Only the young can save the planet, and it might be too late

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE GENERATION GAP is surely no more obvious than on the issue of climate change.

The only ones getting serious about it are young people, while the adults in power fiddle. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist picked as Time magazine’s Person of the Year, must be feeling more disgusted than ever right now.

Time’s choice is being berated by rightwing adults including Donald Trump.

The U.S. president, who feels the honour should have gone to him, ridiculed the choice as “so ridiculous.”

What is so ridiculous is the inability and unwillingness of world leaders to make any progress on climate change. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ended Sunday in Spain on a bitter note as nations pointed the finger at each other over their failure to reach an agreement on targets.

The 200 nations at the table accomplished only some minor tinkering.

The biggest polluters refuse to be engaged in keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Irrefutable science predicts a rise of more than three degrees Celsius by the end of the century unless something is done very soon to turn things around.

To Canada’s credit, it was one of the very few countries who went to the meeting with a plan — albeit an imperfect one — to ramp up action on climate change, but failed to convince the rest.

The U.S., Australia and Brazil — all suffering badly from the effects of unstoppable wildfires this year — are inexplicably among those resisting change.

Meanwhile, our youth march, protest, strike and demand action. They’re the ones with the vision, they’re the ones who can see clearly the disastrous consequences of doing nothing.

Sadly, by the time they’re old enough to take power, it might be too late.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8041 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

14 Comments on EDITORIAL – Only the young can save the planet, and it might be too late

  1. The rich like to make a problem so they can solve the problem painting themselves as hero!

  2. Not to worry folks. Old mother nature is going to take care of it .It is inevitable.Again I quote John A McDonald,at one time a well known author. ” The problems of Man are unsolvable”

  3. We are actually in a carbon dearth. Fake scientists are clamoring to get grants from the narrative makers as humanity witnesses a warming streak that has been on going for the last 10,000 years. Most of Alberta was covered in a mile high ice sheet.

    I find it ironic that the major oil companies are preaching this climate change narrative as they sell more and more oil. What hypocrites. They call for the end of “fossil fuel” (which is a natural renewable resource) and yet they’re still making billions.

    I prefer the middle of the road. Weighing facts to find the truth. I find that any time the governments are moving to make me scared someone is moving to bilk me of my retirement and send me back on the streets begging for minimum wage.

  4. Don Drysdale // December 17, 2019 at 8:47 AM // Reply

    Just wait until the youth of this country see the bills they are going to get for the massive increase in National debt by the Liberals. $100 billion to be added in the next 4 years and that will make debt payments rise from $23 billion a year to over $31 billion. Money spent with no return and no mention of ever balancing the debt. Now would be the time to address that issue too but it just is not mentioned by the environmentalists or the economists even in the last election so carry on with your GHG carbon tax fiasco and next year in Scotland they can come up with another useless target. I am sure Greta will be there “how dare you”

  5. Sean McGuinness // December 17, 2019 at 8:34 AM // Reply

    Yes, well, the young will have to deal with our mess because we couldn’t manage to do the smallest things. What we could have done? We could have voted for proportional representation which would have given some power to parties who actually want to fight climate change. We could drive small, fuel-efficient vehicles, instead of driving our big, gas-guzzling 4×4 trucks. We could make the city bike-friendly. We could cease building or expanding oil pipelines. We could prohibit/limit the production of dirty oil. We could invest heavily in green technology. We could ban fracking.

    The generation which is supposed to care about their children and grandchildren is currently doing none of the above. Greenland is melting and we’re watching golf on tv.

  6. If our global warming crisis is based upon our overuse of fossil fuels, maybe that’s the place to start. (If the world is warming regardless, then that’s another story.)
    Using the term “World leaders” puts things out of reach for most of us. “Mayor and council” makes for ears that are closer.
    Our city needs the funds from the twinning of the pipeline which will carry crude oil from Alberta, to the west coast and eventually to Asia where it will be refined and burned. The carbon emissions will happen in Asia instead of in Canada. But, we live in a fishbowl on this blue planet.
    Jobs and improved infrastructure/rail lines will be realized by having CN rail cars loaded with coal pass through our city. The coal will be sent by rail (already being sent by CP presumably) to the west coast of our country and from there, will be loaded onto cargo ships which will take it to Asia to be burned there. The carbon emissions will happen in Asia instead of in Canada. But, we live in a fishbowl on this blue planet.

    So, are the “grey hairs” willing to go to 7 Victoria Street West and stand before the horseshoe table pleading with Ken Christian to look at the bigger picture? Will Arjun listen and act like the old Arjun who had some fight in his spirit? Will the young women listen and make believe they on board with the ‘grey hairs’ because they might want to be mothers some day and prefer their kids to grow up in a world that won’t burn up in wildfires?
    Until things happen on a local level and meaningful things are done on a local level, we can look at all the magazines and poster youth on the front pages then sit back realizing that there will never be any change unless it starts with the individual.
    Mayor Ken, what about the tax dollars from that pipeline? Do you have a big 4 X 4 American-made pickup truck that needs to be traded for a smaller more fuel efficient unit?
    Greta, will you dare go to China or India or Indonesia to speak angrily in person? You might be arrested and go to jail if you do. Why preach to the converted when the major players aren’t listening?

  7. Ian M MacKenzie // December 17, 2019 at 7:58 AM // Reply

    After that disastrous COP 25, despair is an easy emotion for folks my age. But hope is the last emotion to go. So I hope that Greta and her young company keep it alive with their mature reactions and inject the immature and short-sighted adults in government and corporations with panic.

  8. So, we need to march, protest, vote for climate action and make the personal changes that we can afford. It is a ridiculous abdication of responsibility to expect the youth to shoulder the burden of correcting and advocating for change when we have been the generations responsible for the problems!

    • Just Plant a tree and care for it. Non-violent, carbon sink, heat sink, soil maker. Anyone can do this…

    • Tony Brumell // December 17, 2019 at 3:13 PM // Reply

      Maybe it is to late for some and the actions of the young are to slow to get the attention of the powers that be, Solution ??? All children ten and older leave school now and permanently.The repercussions would be staggering and immediate.This would have to be world wide and I’m sure that people would die .Some governments would react harshly. But without a future the children have nothing to look forward to.If planed and executed properly they can take our future away as well. Is this to raddicle ? or is it time to be raddicle ?? What other choice is there ? I wish I was going to be here at the end of the century so I could say “WE told you so ” Lets not forget that the young people are not the ones who started the protest movements.

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