Wednesday 18 September 2019

Ian O'Doherty: A lack of humour from eco-activists? Well, it's not the end of the world

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

For every action, there's a reaction. As we all know, Greta Thunberg has become this year's Malala Yousafzai, and the 16-year-old is now considered one of the most influential people in the world.

That, of course, says more about the world than it does about Thunberg. After all, she's hardly the first morose teenager to fret about the future of the world. Back in the day, sensitive adolescents wrote bad poetry and scowled at the oldies. In the current climate (as it were), she's become an icon for kids who know no better - and for politicians, who do.

It's hard not to feel a deep sympathy for the kid - she is being exploited for photo ops by cynical politicians in a form of eco-child labour. In the event that she eventually crashes, which is inevitable, it will be interesting to see if the people who flocked around her will be present for any aftercare she may need.

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But it seems that one person has Thunberg in her sights.

Matilda Olofsson is, like Thunberg, a Swedish teenager. Unlike Thunberg, she doesn't care about the planet.

In fact, she considers herself to be "Thunberg's nemesis" and she unveiled her latest devilish scheme this week.

Thunberg is sailing to New York in a carbon-neutral boat, and her nemesis has announced that: "I intend to shadow Greta's yacht with an oil tanker I won using my mom's credit card on eBay."

Along the way, she plans to "drop five oil barrels an hour into the sea while uncle Jorgen shoots them with his rifle... I've calculated that for every tonne of fuel that Greta saves, I shall be using at least 126 tonnes".

The reaction was, to say the least, negative.

Thunberg's supporters have risen to her defence. She is to be thanked for, amongst other things, "exposing the capitalist investment in climate denial which is being used to keep Africa poor".

Olofsson is, obviously, a satirical figure. 'She' appears in the American edition of the Spectator and sounds a lot like that other satirical creation, Godfrey Elfwick.

In fact, even when it was pointed out that this was obviously a joke, the doomsayers were gloomy, muttering that "it wasn't funny".

It was.

But I guess for some people, saving the planet is more important than having a sense of humour. It's not.

Gaia save us from these dour, sullen people with a humour bypass -they're capable of anything.

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