Who’s to blame for climate change? Ask the more militant members of Generation Z – i.e., those born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s – and you’ll be left in little doubt.
It’s the old.
That’s right: those selfish, entitled, ignorant, gas-guzzling Baby Boomers. It’s all their fault. Or so Gen Z has long believed. In January 2020, for example, Greta Thunberg and a group of other leading “youth climate activists” co-wrote a scathing public statement in which they declared that, when it comes to the climate, “Young people are being let down by older generations and those in power.” (“Those in power”, of course, are almost invariably members of “older generations” themselves. So in effect the old were being blamed twice over.)
Greta and friends were far from alone in this view. Around the same time, Billie Eilish, one of the world’s most successful young pop stars, told the NME that “old people” must “start listening to us so that we don’t all die”. The old, she fumed, “don’t really care if we die, but we don’t wanna die yet”.
Of course, both Greta and Billie were mere teenagers when they made these comments. Now that they’re older and wiser – Greta is 20, Billie 21 – perhaps they’ll be mature enough to admit that they got it wrong. Because, according to a fascinating new poll by YouGov, the old actually seem to be doing more to tackle climate change than the young.
In the poll, those aged 18-24 claimed to be the most worried about climate change. When it came to doing something other than moan, however, it was a different story. Almost 90 per cent of the over-65s said they recycled “as much as possible”, compared with only half of the young. The old were also more likely to save water, turn down the heating, wash their clothes at low temperatures, buy locally produced food, avoid excessive packaging, buy energy-efficient appliances, switch off the lights when leaving a room, and repair things rather than throw them away. On top of that, more of them had cut down on the number of flights they took.
Greta’s generation were more likely to have given up meat. But otherwise, it seemed to be the old doing most of the work.
What are we to make of this mysterious discrepancy? Perhaps Greta’s generation is in such deep despair about the future of the planet that some of them have simply given up trying to save it. There is, however, an alternative possibility – which is that they care more about being seen to have the “right” opinion on climate change than they do about tackling it. A type of behaviour that older people like to call “virtue-signalling”.
Which could it be? We can only speculate. Either way, the results of the poll shouldn’t come as a surprise. Anyone who has been held up by a Just Stop Oil protest will have noted that an extraordinary number of the protesters are pensioners.
This, I suspect, is the real reason why the Government is so anxious to get older people back into work. It’s got nothing to do with boosting the economy. It’s purely to stop them glueing their bottoms to roads.
Why Tories should look on the bright side of defeat
The near certainty of a Labour election win has left many Tory members sunk in gloom. For the life of me, though, I can’t think why. If anything, they should be overjoyed.
Winning elections may be nice. But running the country isn’t. It’s unrelieved misery. Soon enough, everyone in the land despises you, and blames you for everything that goes wrong in the world, whether it’s your fault or not.
Being in Opposition is much more fun. Now you get the pleasure of watching everyone blame your political enemies for everything, instead. Meanwhile, you can smugly lecture your enemies on where they’re going wrong, and ridicule them for their hilarious ineptitude.
This is a treat that Tories can already look forward to. A new report by the Institute for Government concludes that, since the Tories took office in 2010, public services have deteriorated dramatically. But it also says that if Sir Keir Starmer sticks to current spending plans – as he has pledged to do – public services under Labour would likely not improve.
Tories, therefore, will soon be able to enjoy seeing Labour get roundly savaged over the hopeless state of the NHS, schools etc. After all these years of Labour grandstanding and finger-wagging, what a nice change it will make.
There’s only one downside. In due course, voters will hate Labour so much that they forget how much they hate the Tories. In fact, they may even decide that the Tories weren’t so bad, after all.
As a result, the poor old Tories will find themselves being forced to run the country again.
Way of the World is a twice-weekly satirical look at the headlines aiming to mock the absurdities of the modern world. It is published at 7am every Tuesday and Saturday