Answer the children

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

Science and technology can help, and the decision is left with the politician.

Legendary physicist Albert Einstein. (Photo: AFP)

Nothing happened, twice. That was how a critic summarised Waiting for Godot, Samuel Becket’s two-act drama that symbolised the theatre of the absurd. The elderly may be willing to play along with the absurd, and will wait, even twice, even if nothing happened.

Sorry, the young would have nothing of it.  Four million students walked out of their classrooms to the streets in cities across the world on Friday demanding that the politicians listen to scientists on climate change, and act. The trigger came from schoolgirl Greta Thunberg who sat outside Swedish parliament asking a simple question: why should I go to school, when facts don’t matter to you, lawmakers? The very idea of being in school when the future was at stake sounded absurd to her. Now, to millions like her. They are not willing to hedge themselves on promises on climate that have come too many times, and been broken too many times. Hence the urgency. Environment is admittedly a complex system and changes to it, too, are complex. Much of the changes that damaged environment also helped millions of people out of poverty and afforded them basics in life, like food, clothing and shelter first, and then  electricity and transport. The process created new jobs, too, and entered a self-sustaining mode. And the realisation now dawns: the process is unsustainable. So, the issue on hand is complex: make the earth and the lives on it sustainable. There is no either or. Where do you seek emancipation?

Science and technology can help, and the decision is left with the politician. Albert Einstein proposed his theories on photo-electric effect and the mass-energy relation the same year: 1905. The politician picked up the latter to make atom bomb for whatever reasons; the friendly solar energy which based on the former had to wait for decades for emancipation.

The politician has had his game. Now, answer the children.