Opinion Comment

Saturday 23 March 2019

Frank Coughlan: 'Millennials and a climate of hypocrisy'

Climate change protesters from the Extinction Rebellion activist group stop traffic in central London as they demonstrate outside the main hub venue of London Fashion Week. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Climate change protesters from the Extinction Rebellion activist group stop traffic in central London as they demonstrate outside the main hub venue of London Fashion Week. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Frank Coughlan

Frank Coughlan

I know everything is our fault. Baby-boomers have sucked the world dry, raped and pillaged its resources and are about to leave its children a dying, dried-out prune of a planet.

We know that because our off-spring keep telling us.

They have a point, I suppose. In my time I've burned fossil fuels to keep myself warm. If you bought a house in the 1980s with a deadbeat back-boiler that was the alternative to freezing.

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My first few cars back-fired, belched and bellowed as if oil was going out of fashion (it was, but there was no alternative) and, for what it's worth, bangers were all we could afford.

I'd admit too that I have eaten more than my share of beef in whatever condition it has landed on my plate and I would be lying if I said there wasn't a nice piece of rib-eye in the fridge with my name on it.

Against that, I have always been a champion of public transport, only drive when I really have to and fly on those rare occasions when I need to get away for the sake of my sanity.

Selflessly, I deliberately choose old world wines because I know getting the bottles from the vineyard to me requires fewer air miles.

Overall, I would reckon, if the Climate Police arrested and interrogated me today they'd have to admit my carbon footprint was dainty and if the world stopped turning it wouldn't be down to me.

That won't, of course, spare me the recriminations of the young students who are taking to the streets demanding climate revolution. When do they want it? Now.

This is indeed laudable, except for some unfortunate but self-evident home truths.

I have closely observed three personally bred millennials through their formative years and would be telling porkies if I claimed I ever saw the faintest hint that their generation, which is so censorious of mine, is any more committed to climate justice.

They're the ones, after all, that leave enough lights on in the house to guide a lost 747 safely home, regard the garden clothes-line as an art installation while running the tumble dryer on a loop and indulge in marathon power-showers.

And later, while moving seamlessly into adulthood, they serially purchase disposable fashion and exotic fruits that have to be flown three-quarters of the way across the planet.

These same champions of sustainable living will bin any food that is within a calendar month of its 'best by' and consider their education incomplete if they haven't jetted to the four corners of the globe by the time they graduate.

A noble gesture from these young eco-idealists, but let's hope it's not the usual recycled hot air.

This kitchen sink drama has its complications

We're getting a new kitchen. The current one, I'm regularly reminded, owes us nothing.

I'll concede that in the past few years it has gone from looking merely jaded to plain shabby without the chic.

Drawers tilt, the whiff of dead foods linger in the cupboards and the tiles are the very sort that Hyacinth Bucket might have considered posh in her 1995 heyday.

This will cost, of course. Realistically, about 20pc more than we both emphatically agree is our absolute limit.

Worse is the realisation that at some point I'll have to trek all the way to some industrial estate on the distant horizon of civilisation to choose door knobs.

It could be so simple.

Just design it around the fridge, George Foreman and wine rack. The rest will follow.

This concept was dismissed with a withering glare.

Life has to be complicated, it seems. That's the deal.

Irish Independent

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