My son says I’m a hypocrite. He’s right

My son says I’m a hypocrite. He’s right

How far would you go to make your next trip carbon neutral? 

Probably not as far as Greta Thunberg, the Joan of Arc of climate crisis, who will soon be crossing the Atlantic from Britain to North America in an 18m solar powered racing yacht. 

September, when she is travelling, is hurricane season, and Greta has never sailed before, but she needs to be in New York for the UN climate summit. Greta didn’t want to fly, for obvious reasons, or take a cruise ship.

She says that finding an appropriate vessel to take her across the ocean — one that would not leave a trail of emissions — had been “impossible”, until she was offered a lift by the captain of a yacht. Not the kind of yacht we associate with paunchy oligarchs in Monaco, those bloated floating hotels covered in waxed celebrities quaffing champers, waited on by staff with gold braid; no, Greta’s chosen boat, the Malizia II, doesn’t even have a loo.

It has a bucket, says its skipper Boris Herrmann. He told the BBC that it doesn’t have hot water either, or showers, or a fridge, or any kind of entertainment systems to keep a teenager engaged for two weeks, or longer, if the weather is bad and they have to take the scenic route. 

All the boat’s solar energy goes into keeping the boat moving in the right direction — there’s nothing left over for fripperies like hot showers or flushing loos or cold drinks or watching Love Island online from a comfy sofa. If Greta is seasick, there’s always that bucket.

Greta is 16, and for so many of us, represents a glimmer of hope for the future of humankind. We all need to be more Greta; her clear-eyed fearlessness and relentless articulation of climate reality in the face of adult deniers makes her a heroine of our times. She’s a beacon.

My son, who is also 16, thinks she’s a muppet. He thinks school climate striking is a waste of time, other than as an excuse to bunk off school and miss double science; he thinks that Extinction Rebellion are idiots who disrupt people going about their daily life by causing traffic jams; and that vegans are mentally ill and don’t know what they’re missing from the fried chicken shop.

It’s fair to say that unlike Greta, my son is not woke. That he is very much rebelling against the Extinction Rebellion flyers stuck to our fridge, and the vegan dinners inside it. He thinks not flying is a ridiculous idea, and remains impervious to the plight of polar bears. They’d eat you if they met you, he says, tearing into another chunk of fried chicken.

I tell him about Greta and her forthcoming trip to New York in the boat with no loo. He looks at me sideways, eyes narrowed — because his sister, himself and I are hoping to visit the Big Apple together, later in the year. In a plane. You massive hypocrite, he says. He’s right, of course.

More on this topic

Emissions of harmful refrigerant gas down by 69%Emissions of harmful refrigerant gas down by 69%

Ocean plastic vacuum launched at HowthOcean plastic vacuum launched at Howth

Denis Naughten hopeful that Longford Bord na Móna plant will reopen next monthDenis Naughten hopeful that Longford Bord na Móna plant will reopen next month

San Francisco shows the way - It’s time to ban plastic bottlesSan Francisco shows the way - It’s time to ban plastic bottles

More in this Section

The intolerant are a minority... for nowThe intolerant are a minority... for now

Serious questions for Siri on contracts, workSerious questions for Siri on contracts, work

Alcohol really is no excuse for bad behaviour – research reveals you're still the same person after a drinkAlcohol really is no excuse for bad behaviour – research reveals you're still the same person after a drink

Why we care more about a cathedral than a rainforestWhy we care more about a cathedral than a rainforest

More by this author

We holidayed in a white zone. No internet, no calls, no messages. Nothing.We holidayed in a white zone. No internet, no calls, no messages. Nothing.

Booking a summer holiday is one thing...Booking a summer holiday is one thing...

Are we living in The Truman Show?Are we living in The Truman Show?

My effort to save a bee has a sting in the tailMy effort to save a bee has a sting in the tail


Lifestyle

IF you are the parent of a child who is about to venture forth into the hallowed halls of Primary education, or ‘Big School’ as every Irish mammy refers to it since the dawn of time; well, chances are you’ve probably been very active in your Google searches looking for tips and advice on how to ease your child, and yourself, into this next chapter.Out of curiosity, I searched online for ‘Back to school advice’

More From The Irish Examiner