The root cause of climate change, say many activist leaders, is economic growth. “How dare you!” Greta Thunberg told the United Nations last September “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth!”
And yet it was economic growth that lifted Thunberg’s ancestors out of agrarian poverty, raised life expectancy from 40 to 70 years, and liberated women and girls from feudal patriarchy. Without Sweden’s economic growth, and the fossil fuels upon which it depended, the person who is Greta Thunberg would not exist.
Some climate activists acknowledge the need for poor nations to burn more fossil fuels if they are to achieve decent standards of living. Thunberg herself suggested as much in her January 2019 TED talk.