Editorial: In whom should we trust our future?

A couple of weeks ago at the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, 17-year-old Swedish environmental scold Greta Thunberg for the second year in a row ranted about eminent climate catastrophe and urged the attendees to do something to prevent it immediately if not yesterday.

“In the days running up to the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum, I joined a group of climate activists demanding that you, the world’s most powerful and influential business and political leaders, begin to take the action needed,” Thunberg said.

She continued, “We demand at this year’s World Economic Forum, participants from all companies, banks, institutions and governments: Immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction. Immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies. And immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels. We don’t want these things done by 2050, 2030 or even 2021. We want this done now.”

She ended with her customary inflammatory exhortation, “Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. And we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else.”

Fortunately, a couple of hours later an adult addressed the forum attendees with a different message.

President Donald Trump, 73, opened with a statistical litany, exclaiming, “Today, I’m proud to declare that the United States is in the midst of an economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before. We’ve regained our stride, we discovered our spirit and reawakened the powerful machinery of American enterprise. America is thriving, America is flourishing, and yes, America is winning again like never before.”

Since his election Trump recounted that America has gained 7 million jobs, unemployment is the lowest in more than 50 years and earnings growth for the bottom 10 percent is outpacing the top 10 percent. He said the American energy revolution is saving American families $2,500 a year.

“At the same time, I’m proud to report the United States has among the cleanest air and drinking water on Earth — and we’re going to keep it that way,” Trump continued. “And we just came out with a report that, at this moment, it’s the cleanest it’s been in the last 40 years. We’re committed to conserving the majesty of God’s creation and the natural beauty of our world.”

As if in answer to a previous speaker, Trump went on to say, “This is not a time for pessimism; this is a time for optimism. Fear and doubt is not a good thought process because this is a time for tremendous hope and joy and optimism and action. But to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune-tellers — and I have them and you have them, and we all have them, and they want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen. They predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the ’70s, and an end of oil in the 1990s. These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform, and control every aspect of our lives.”

He declared that we will not allow radical socialists to wreck our economy and liberties — a transparent shot at the advocates of the Democrats’ Green New Deal, which relies on massive government control of all aspects of our lives and livelihoods.

“We continue to embrace technology, not to shun it,” the president declared. “When people are free to innovate, millions will live longer, happier, healthier lives.”

Now, who should we be listening to and heeding? A doomsaying child? Or a man who has managed through cutting taxes and regulations to work an economic turnaround while still keeping the environment clean and healthy?

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Branco cartoon