How dare you… not give kids a vote

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“Climate change isn’t about politics; it’s about survival. It is those 16-year-olds who will be carried away by the cyclones and floodwaters, the fires and the droughts. So of course they should be given the vote. It’s their only chance,” writes The Gadfly columnist ROBERT MACKLIN. 

IF ever there was a time – and a reason – to lower the voting age to 16-year-olds, it’s right now as Nature prepares to avenge the vandalism of their forebears. 

It might already be too late to save humanity from the ever-rising death toll of hurricanes, floods and forest fires, but unless there’s a radical changing of the guard, those 16-year-olds will be overwhelmed by the chaos soon to be unleashed.

And if you doubt it, consider the images from the US last week. On the one hand was Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Summit fighting back tears as she cried: “This is all wrong…I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope! 

“How dare you!

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

On the other hand, our own PM Scott Morrison was in blushing bonhomie with the old man who, more than any other, is driving the planet into the flames of tomorrow. In fact, Donald J Trump is so much a part of that fiery future his skin has actually turned a reflective shade of orange. 

He is not only refusing to take action against climate change, he’s reversing the mitigating measures of his presidential predecessor. And Morrison, aged 51 and a proud believer in “miracles” dances and capers to Trump’s tune like an organ grinder’s accompanist. 

Trump showed his contempt for the UN Summit by calling by for less than 15 minutes and ostentatiously walking out. Morrison ignored it completely. Indeed “Titanium Man” publicly abhors the Greta Thunbergs of the world who dare call upon her fellow 16-year-olds to leave their classrooms on Fridays to demonstrate in the streets. “They should stay in school,” he told the Parliament before leaving for the US, “and leave politics to those outside of school”.

But that’s the very point: Climate change isn’t about politics; it’s about survival. And those of us in the afternoon of our lives will depart the scene before the real horror descends. It is those very 16-year-olds who will be carried away by the cyclones and floodwaters, the fires and the droughts, and trampled by the waves of thirst-wracked human refugees.

So of course they should be given the vote. It’s their only chance. 

The real issue is at the other end-of-the-age spectrum. Since those over 70 will escape the cataclysm by virtue of their return to dust or the air or the bosom of the deep, why should they hold sway over the fate of young combatants in the war they wished upon them? 

As for the middle generation – the sons and daughters of the ’60s revolutionaries – who hid inside their McMansions and let the deniers have their way – well, there’s not much to be done to save them. 

Apathy, alas, has its own reward… and it’s never pleasant. At least the 16-year-olds are prepared to sign up for the fight.

robert@robertmacklin.com

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Robert Macklin
Journalist and author. Contact robert@robertmacklin.com

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