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Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Opinion | Trump vs Thunberg

The summit’s schedulers did well to have the US president speak before Thunberg

If Davos awaited a face off between US President Donald Trump and climate activist Greta Thunberg, they got one. On Tuesday, the World Economic Forum’s ski resort huddle had Trump in full form. He assailed environment “alarmists", scoffing at them as “the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers". Mass starvation had once been their forecast, he said, clubbing Malthusians with ecologists. Speaking shortly after him, Thunberg hit back. The world did not need leaders to offer “empty words and promises" instead of action, said the Swedish teenager. “Our house is still on fire," she declared, adding that nothing was being done against climate change, and that her generation would “not give up without a fight".

The summit’s schedulers did well to have the US president speak before Thunberg. His cavalier dismissal of green activists as a group was bad enough. Had his sneers been aimed directly at Thunberg, he would have come off a lot worse. By now, it is amply clear that global warming is not just a reality, it is a threat like no other. It simply cannot be ignored. And, if it takes teenage anger to shake us up, so be it.

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