The Class of ‘39
Friday, 27 September 2019
Albert Park, Melbourne
By Vern Gowdie
My father was born on 6 November 1929.
His birthplace, the Central Queensland town of Rockhampton, was a world away from New York…the world’s financial hub.
Little did he realise how the events on Wall Street, in the week prior to his birth, would influence his life.
In the 1930s, Australia’s economy shrank by 10%. Unemployment rose to 30%.
Times were tough.
In search of employment, my grandfather left his wife and two young sons in Rockhampton, and travelled to Mount Isa (1400 kms away). Back then, there was no regular, fly-in-fly out, commute. Once you were there, you stayed there.
The children of that era knew no different, that was just how it was. You made do with what you had. There was no hysteria about a doomed future.
My father’s childhood was one of waste not, want not. Nothing was thrown out. Socks darned. Pants patched. Sparse wardrobes consisted of hand-me-downs and your ‘Sunday best’. Wanton consumerism — as we know it — did not exist.
With Dad’s 90th birthday approaching, we’ve been going through old photo albums (ones stored in the cupboard and not in the cloud).
Putting together a record of his life has been a somewhat nostalgic trip.
Considering these kids had lived through one of the toughest decades in modern history and were on the brink of another world war, they looked reasonably happy.
If ever a generation had the right to be anxious about the future, this one did.
On the domestic front, Australia was two years in to a severe drought.
According to the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) (emphasis is mine)…
‘Drought conditions prevailed over eastern Australia from 1937 to 1945. They first emerged at serious levels in 1937, with New South Wales, Victoria, much of Queensland and parts of Western Australia affected. Isolated parts of New South Wales, notably in the central west, suffered record low rainfall...
‘In Victoria, a very dry six month period provided the right conditions for the disastrous Black Friday bushfires in January 1939.
‘…dry weather occurred again and 1940 was one of the driest years of the century over most of the southern parts of the country. Dams were empty in New South Wales and Brisbane had water restrictions.
‘By April 1945 most Victorian water storage facilities were empty, the Murray river ceased flowing at Echuca and Adelaide faced water shortages.’
Did the Class of ‘39 organise a climate strike demanding the government do something to change unchangeable weather patterns?
Did the government invite a distressed child to scold them over their actions or inactions?
Don’t be silly. This generation had genuine issues to contend with. How to make a living.
Ration stamps. Living with the threat of invasion.
There were even some boys as young as 15, who, with false papers, enlisted to fight for their country. That’s real commitment to the cause.
Besides what could they do about the supposed threat of climate change? Drive less? Turn off the lights? Buy less stuff? Consume less meat? Cut back on plane travel?
They were already doing all of this and more. Not out of personal sacrifice, but out of necessity.
In my father’s youth, every hour of every day was ‘Earth hour’. There were no token displays of look at me and my virtuous BS ways.
And yet, in spite of this generation’s low carbon footprint, the weather remained unpredictable.
Serious drought. Disastrous bushfires. Empty dams. Record low rainfall.
The FC Holden station wagon was the SUV of its day…minus air conditioning, electric windows, power steering, airbags and seatbelts.
There were no designer clothes (or by the looks of it, casual shoes) in our youth. That’s how it was for the working class family.
Compared to my parents, our childhood was one of abundance.
There were still hand-me-downs. Pants were patched. And a ‘make do’ attitude was instilled into us.
However, the post-Second World War era was one of relative prosperity. The world was steadily re-building.
Manufacturing bases expanded to meet the growing demand for automobiles, TVs and electrical appliances.
Our frugal parents used credit to buy a home and car.
However, the mod cons of the day were gradually purchased from savings and/or on lay-by.
If you couldn’t afford it, then you went without. The lessons of the 1930s were seared into the consciousness of our parents.
Household thrift meant our carbon footprint (not that we knew we had one of those back then) was fairly small.
No heating. No air conditioning. No backyard pool. Recycled clothing and shoes. One car.
One TV. One bathroom (in a house of seven people). One phone.
Unbeknown to us, we were doing our bit to minimise our CO2 emissions.
Yet, in my youth we also experienced the effects of ‘climate change’ (emphasis is mine)…
‘From 1965–68, eastern Australia was again greatly affected by drought. Conditions had been dry over the centre of the continent since 1957 but spread elsewhere during the summer of 1964/1965. This drought contributed to the 1967 Tasmanian fires in which 62 people died in one day and 1,400 homes were lost.’
Did we organise a ‘climate strike’? Oh how it pains me to say it, but no, we didn’t.
A wasted opportunity to miss a day at school.
Besides I can imagine what my dad’s response would’ve been at the mere suggestion of participating in such nonsense…a swift Size 9 delivered to the backside.
Thankfully we didn’t make a dill of ourselves and stage a ‘climate strike’ against the warming conditions in the late 1960s.
Because in 1970, the Washington Post warned us about the ‘dawn of a new ice age’.
Source: Washington Post
[Click to open in a new window]
Hot. Dry. Cold. Wet.
Come on Mother Nature, make up your mind.
Who would have thought the weather could be so interchangeable and seasonal?
And even more mind-blowing is who would have thought you could create such nonsensical hysteria (and billions of dollars) over something that’s been occurring since the beginning of time.
But someone did…
A climate of fear
Hans Rosling (a professor of global health at Sweden's Karolinska Institute) is the co-author of a fantastic book titled Factfulness.
And it’s not just me who holds Rosling in high esteem. You can see Bill Gates’s endorsement of Factfulness here.
Hans Rosling was also a TED talk sensation…and a believer in climate change. Sadly, he passed away in 2017.
This is an edited extract from page 229 of Factfulness (emphasis is mine):
‘“We need to create fear!” That’s what Al Gore said to me at the start of our first conversation about how to teach climate change. It was 2009 and we were backstage at a TED conference in Los Angeles. Al Gore asked me to help him and use Gapminder’s bubble graphs to show a worst-case future impact of a continued increase in CO2 emissions.
‘I agreed with him completely that swift action on climate change was needed, and I was excited at the thought of collaborating with him.
‘But I couldn’t agree to what he had asked.”
‘I don’t like fear….Fear plus urgency make for stupid, drastic decisions with unpredictable side effects.’
That last sentence has been so prophetic.
Stupid. Drastic decisions. Unpredictable side effects.
The adult climate change zealots are creating the fear their cult leader so desperately wanted to cultivate.
Last week we saw one of those unpredictable side effects.
The climate strike.
The brainwashing of our youth — scaring them witless about the future — is beyond stupid, its reckless and irresponsible.
The parents and teachers who endorse this baseless hysteria should be hanging their heads in shame.
But they won’t be.
Instead they’ll be basking in the warm inner glow of the sanctimonious righteousness that comes from group think.
‘Our little Johnny or Mary was there’.
‘Oh well done you’.
What is it the kids want?
‘"I hope the politicians hear us. They don't really seem to be doing anything," said Albe Gils, 18, who skipped high school and came with two friends to the protest. "It's important that we talk about it now."’
‘"I am here because we want adults to act," said Caroline Muller, 13, who has protested in the past. "It is time to do something."’
There are a lot of demands about ‘adults to act’ and ‘politicians to do something’.
But what about the kids being taught personal responsibility?
Perhaps the education system could remind the students of this extract from President John F Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech…
‘Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country,’
If you’re passionate about making a contribution to a better world, then there is only one course of action…
‘Manufacturing the average smartphone is estimated to create around 16kg of CO2 equivalent emissions. If you then add the amount of power the phone consumes over two years of average use then that figure rises to 22kg, but there’s also much more to consider.
‘All smartphones contain hazardous materials like bromine, chlorine, lead and mercury, while more than 1,000 components are made of metals like gold, tin, lithium and tantalum, which, although not poisonous, cause huge damage through land degradation and mining.
‘There are also other ethical considerations to take into account, such as whether the minerals required to build a smartphone have been sourced from countries where workers are not paid properly, treated fairly or where there are human rights abuses or conflicts.’
Ditch the phone and you can tick off a few of the big social issues. CO2 emissions. Land degradation. Worker exploitation.
Go on, do it.
Back your words with actions.
Toss the phone in the bin. This would be a tangible display of your commitment to the cause.
What do you reckon, will these wagging school kids and their virtuous parents and teachers do it?
Far easier to preach than it is to practice. These do nothings are all show and no go.
In the interviews I’ve seen with the ‘striking’ school kids, not one journalists asked them: Would you like to make a contribution to reducing CO2 emissions by ditching your mobile phone?
Instead, they were given an armchair ride. No hard questions allowed. Airing their grievances. Demanding action. But taking no personal responsibility.
What a pathetic media we have. Fawning over these kids does them no favours.
Failing to teach these kids how to exercise balanced judgement and to take personal responsibility is setting them up for failure in the real world.
The parents and teachers who endorse this mindless stuff need to take a serious look at themselves.
The actions of the dim witted pawns in Al Gore’s grand wealth creation plan have produced an unpredictable side effect on the Depression-era generation (emphasis is mine):
‘The number of elderly people dying in their homes or being rushed to hospital due to the cold is on the rise. A new study from Monash University in Melbourne has revealed a rise in elderly Australians dying because they can't afford to run heating. More than 130 patients were admitted to hospital across New South Wales last winter, suffering complications relating to the cold. The alarming trend follows warnings Australia is suffering through its worst flu season on record, with more than 220 deaths reported already this year.’
Sky News, 1 July 2019
The generation that went without in their childhood — the ones, who through their frugal lifestyles, have produced the smallest carbon footprint — are being forced to go full circle.
Back to rationing their power needs.
Well done Al Gore and your sycophant followers for the ‘success’ of your fear campaign. With an elderly parent, I personally find your over-the-top actions to drive up energy prices repugnant.
The contrast between the Class of 1939 and the Class of 2019 could not be starker.
It’s taken more than 80 years for the pendulum to swing from thrift and self-reliance to spendthrift and self-indulgence.
It feels like we’re approaching that time in the economic cycle when society is about to be given a lesson in what real sacrifice is.
Compared to the crassness of today, the Class of ‘39 really did have class. Happy Birthday Dad.
Editor, The Rum Rebellion
Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is really a friend. - Plautus