The above column title sounds as if it might announce a professional wrestling match in a sweaty, crowded arena in Baltimore.
Instead it’s a news headline that leaped from my computer this morning. The rock musician Meat Loaf has expressed the opinion that the young Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg has succumbed to a mistaken belief. To wit, she and a battery of scientists fear that most of the human race will die within 200 years or so because of continued global warming, air pollution, and extinction of plant and animal species.
Until now, a major reaction to these arguments has been “‘Who cares?’ Even if Greta and her apocalyptic scientists are right about the dangers of global warming, we still have time to change our ways, don’t we?”
Greta and her supporters say, “No, we don’t. Time is almost up. Another 10 years or so and we’re screwed.” Or words to that effect.
It’s hard to disagree with that view, when ocean waters keep rising, glaciers melt, forests burn and 100-degree-plus heat waves and drought are followed by torrential rains and flooding.
A major issue is this: How shall the argument be settled? On the one hand, how can we end the head-in-the-sand complacency, avoidance and outright denial that today grips humans and nations around the world? What will finally get their attention?
But the doubters reply: Throughout history the earth has been assaulted by waves of famine, disease, warfare, earthquakes, rising tides and other threats from nature and humankind. Despite all that, here we are — not only surviving but multiplying like oversexed rabbits. And we shall do it again, without destroying or overhauling the economic and scientific structures that have brought us this far.
One possible approach: The Meat Loaf and Greta Show! This would be a round-the-world TV debate, held in a new setting each week. Its headliners would be Meat Loaf, a 72-year-old Texas-born rock star, vs. a 17-year-old idealistic Swedish girl who, with one Twitter message (among other things), can cause hordes of high school students around the world to go on strike in the name of saving the planet.
What a production this could be! Each side could invite high-profile experts as supporting guests. Funding for the project could come from the conservative side, such as the oil, coal and transportation industries, and from the liberal wing, which today includes hundreds of protest-and-education groups around the world, existing on contributions from fellow true-believers.
Years ago, people paid attention to messages broadcast by diplomats and high-ranking public officials. Today the best way to sell a product or a warning gospel is via Facebook, Twitter and other intellectual outlets, using glamorous up-front figures from the world of film, sports and music. Such as Meat Loaf, who millions may remember from the 1975 movie “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
At age 17, Greta Thunberg brings her own claim to headlines via several routes. She triggered protest strikes by millions of students worldwide; she has given brief but stirring speeches to the U.S. Congress, the British Parliament, international economic forums and other groups. Her yards-long awards list includes Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year. In her new book, “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference,” Ms. Thunberg reads the riot act to anyone who doubts that our global climate is a-changin’, and not for the better. I wish her book could reach the hands and minds of every high school student in America.
My Meat Loaf & Greta worldwide tour idea probably won’t fly. But at least I spoke out on what may be the most important issue in world history. I plan to speak out again. It’s show time, folks. It’s been show time for years. And the clock is ticking.