Dan Boyle: Wise Heads On Young Shoulders


From top: Schoolchildren at the climate strike in Dublin city last week; Dan Boyle

As I turned into Emmet Place it wasn’t as I expected it to be. The scale of the number of students there had surprised me. I ruefully thought of protests I had attended in the past, where a few dozen of us would march to highlight some political or environmental wrong.

Outside the Crawford Gallery I met an old friend. Over thirty years we had campaigned together on various causes. We played different roles. I chose the route of public meetings/gatherings, then trying to articulate wrongs through various media. He chose to be more anonymous. Doing research, producing reports, using science, law and logic to far better articulate what was wrong and why.

He was as pleased as I was at the strength of the gathering. He wondered out loud if we had failed over the previous generations.

Here I partly diverged from his thesis. We had failed to make progress, failed to reverse the damage, but we did to some extent stem the poisonous flow. A generational finger in the dyke exercise.

Years of seemingly futile flag waving exercises at least seemed to have kept the narrative alive. The indignity of being so long ignored, so long derided, before acceptance of the reality of environmental crisis has become mainstream.

The sight of so many young people embracing the challenge that preceding generations had failed, has warmed the cockles of an ageing man’s heart.

And they are doing so with an emotional maturity that I have yet to manage. They are earnest but without the air of preachy seriousness in which many of us had indulged. Indulgences that discouraged many climate change waverers from becoming convinced.

This generation is more inclined to use derision as a better method of displaying two fingers towards the ignorant and the inept.

It has been dawning on them that the ultimate responsibility for clearing up this mess lies with them. They are eschewing the ostrich head in the sand approach of their predecessors. They are recognising that life as we’ve known it isn’t worth living, unless we right these wrongs.

It wasn’t only the emotional maturity and environmental nous that impressed me. These young people are coming through life with none of the stereotypical hangups that blighted my generation.

How they related to each other was a source of wonderment to me. Most exuded a this is who I am, this is what I am attitude, deal with it defiance, that I wish I had during my adolescence.

I did not witness a docile and brain dead generation laid waste by video games and the internet. I saw young people able to interact with each other in an almost gender free way. The emotionally hamstrung me of thirty years ago cried out why couldn’t I be like that?

They will learn their own lessons. They will make as many mistakes as we have made, but they will be starting from a better place.

They will be deeper in the mire, though no longer indifferent to the challenges they face. They will fight in a way we didn’t, nor probably couldn’t.

Our generation may have removed some barriers, cleared some ignorance, but theirs remains the harder task.

Theirs is the shorter time span caused by our frittering of the time of knowing what was known.

I had bought into the myth of of a millennial generation that was spoilt, indulged and cosseted from the real world. Seeing what I’ve seen this week I realise how wrong and unfair that portrayal is.

A future is possible. It will be thanks to them.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. He is running in the local elections in Cork in May  for the Green Party.  His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle


Sponsored Link

68 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Wise Heads On Young Shoulders

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      I, although most definitely Gen X, like to refer to myself as a Millennial when in polite company. I ignore the guffaws.

    2. V for Frilly

      I only learnt this meself last night Star
      Gen Z
      An’ immediately thought

      With their Zombie this n’ that
      And conspiracies and virals

      And just to show how up with GenZ I am
      I’m totally guilty of Snow Ploughing

      So I am
      So there

    3. Amorphous Kerry Blob

      The guy who coined ‘Generation X’ back in the day had a bit of foresight, considering Gen Z might be the last Generation. Personally, I’m thinking we’ll last till Gen Z+1 before civilization starts to properly crumble.
      If we don’t get our sh*t together that is. And it’s looking doubtful. We’re pretty much locked in to 1.5 Degree increase already.
      I bought a lovely 2nd hand electric car yesterday. My next aim, getting my fat ass on a bicycle to lower my footprint further. The particular country roads I have to use to get to work look dangerous for cyclists, but if yee can manage up in Dublin…

      P.S. If you’re scared of going vegan or vegetarian or whatever, I recommend minimizing your Beef and Lamb intake (the animals who burp methane). It’s an easy step to take.
      P.P.S. Systemic change via political will is what we really need, but if you want to help normalise that change and if you want to live with yourself a bit better, you might consider doing something. Also personal change in relation to this subject helps you ‘actualise’, if you catch my drift.

  1. Spaghetti Hoop

    You may applaud, but the real scandal here is that scientists have been warning about climate change since the 1970s yet it has taken nearly five decades for this branch of science to reach today’s curriculum and students. Principally because of the negligence of governments, environment ministers and policy-makers who can barely think past an electoral five-year cycle let alone a generation of scholars. Ah, and Geography is now a non-compulsory subject. Ireland lags behind embarrassingly on climate change awareness.

    1. A lien too far

      Name one climate catastrophe prediction over the last 40 years that has actually come true.

      Just one.

      I’ll wait.

      Meanwhile Dan Boyle swells with prude because dozens of children filled with propaganda and lies march down a street in return for a day off school.

      When you’re proud of the lies you tell to children Dan, that’s when you really need to take a look at yourself.

      [Now, how long will the propaganda complicit BS leave this comment up? Lately they seem very scared of anything approaching truth]

        1. postmanpat

          ‘A lien too far’ . Only popped up in (two so far ) climate related articles . He’s a paid shill , not a real individual and had no history of broadsheet comments . Broadsheet, he wants to be kicked off so just oblige him and ban his pop up account already.

          1. gobbledy

            Love your stuff as well pat

            Your step by step account of how to extort money using threats and menaces yesterday was a high watermark

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        They are not referred to as ‘catastrophes’, but the evidence of accelerated climate change is not disputed in the science world. The melting of the ice-caps is actually happening faster than initially predicted in the 1980s and this is evident in both the sea-levels and fresh vs salt water, the shifting of the Gulf Stream and the …duh…lack of ice. The rise in sea temperatures has had various consequences – coral bleaching, fish-stock movements. Desertification is at its worst rate ever. There ARE a lot of hysterics when it comes to climate change awareness I agree – every campaign does that. Remember, the planet has undergone cyclical climate changes for eons – the orbital changes, sun-spot activities etc. What voters and campaign groups should be concentrating on is climate adaptation and mitigation policies so that we can manage the effects of a warmer planet. What part of all this do you doubt?

      2. Boules

        More frequent and more extreme weather events – check
        increased flooding – check
        increased desertification – check
        acidification of oceans – check
        melting ice caps and glaciers – check
        more droughts and heatwaves – check
        etc etc etc ……

        1. Nigel

          90% of a city in Mozambique just wiped out.
          US Midwest under water right now.
          Bering Sea free of ice at this time of the year for the second time since 1850. First time was last year.
          Shipping lanes opening in the Arctic for the first time ever.

          1. jusayinlike


            Mozambique is part of a flood plain. It floods quite often there, the floods are necessary for surrounding eco system. The water is also badly needed across the whole east coast. I was there late last year.

            There have been three different types of Spring melt in the sea ice cover in the eastern Bering Sea during the last thirty years.

        2. jusayinlike

          Flood plains flood, desertification is due to winds sweeping from mountains which are not man made, ice caps melt and reform seasonally, can you be more specific?

      3. Papi

        Coxrox and his “decades” of no climate change. If it wasn’t so sad it would be laughable.

    1. eoin

      Wonder does Dan have any view on this recent contribution from Dep Mick Wallace in the Dail, and would this be the kind of message Dan will be bringing to the doorsteps of his putative rural constituents in the upcoming local elections?

      “The meat and dairy herds are to Ireland what the coal industry is to Poland and the fracking gas industry is to the United States, namely, a short-sighted cash generator, the expansion of which is undermining the chances of survival of the planet and the people of the global south and in less than a generation the people of the global north. We are food insecure in Ireland. We have been a net importer of food since 2000. The climate is changing as a result of our agricultural policy. What is worse is that we are not preparing for the change. Why is the Minister not moving away from the monoculture that threatens agriculture?”

      1. Nigel

        My guess is it would depend on whether Dan wants to charge head on against the notoriously strong, entrenched and touchy farm sector by antagonising them, or would prefer to change Irish agriculture through more conciliatory approaches that emphasises long-term mutual interests and co-operation.

        1. jusayinlike

          In other words, do nothing to challenge the biggest contributor of co2 and the biggest guzzler of fresh water and take corporate handouts from the car and fossil fuel industry.


        2. SOQ

          Children would take any excuse to get a day off school. Creepy environmentalism has become a cult led by the An Taisce green-schools program which is a VERY comfortable stay at home number.

          You must put this is this bin and this in that bin but never ever that we will tax those who over package. We recycle but for what purpose, apart from separate trucks trundling around spewing diesel.?. Serious question.

          But look over there, at your affluent air miles and carbon footprint, when you get enough time and money to actually have a sun holiday. Bicycles, more bicycles, my left hip means I spend the rest of the day with what feels like blisters in my groin. Tut tut.

          Bad me.

          Ireland is a clean country with a very dirty industry.Tell us what we as a state should be doing to reduce rather than increase the hungry whores who have monetised farming.

          1. Nigel

            I mean the whole protest is literally aimed st politicians and policy level actions? I don’t really know how most of what you’re saying relates to anything except 6o illustrate how cynicism is second nature to us.

  2. Dr.Fart MD

    the comments section on every broadsheet article is like the transcript of a conversation in a hospice. everyones off subject, always complaining, giving out about youths. You’re all huge losers.

    1. millie st murderlark

      And you clearly didn’t mean me.*

      *You better not or I will go full Liam Neeson on you.

      1. Papi

        8000 nerve endings can mean an awful lot of pain, Liam.

        Too far, I went too far, didn’t I? dang.

        1. johnny

          In India,the Dalits used throw themselves on the ground face down, if a Brahmin or Kshatriya approached to to prevent even their unclean shadows from touching the higher caste…..

          1. johnny

            (try have some self respect and get up off the ground there daddy)
            for someone with no game, you like throw a lot shade.

  3. Zaccone

    Protesting is all well and good but unless people under 25 actually start turning out to vote in high numbers it’ll make no difference. Politicians don’t care about non-voters.

    1. McVitty

      It’s not really an environmental policy proposal – it’s a wider social(ist) framework that pedals as an environmental document. It’s more like an 8th graders assignment than anything that can be implemented. For example, it said something to the effect of “by replacing all petrol cars with electric cars, there will be no more war in the middle east” – this shows a very poor understanding of the way foreign policy works in America.

      The lady herself flies to DC instead of taking the train “to save time for her constituents” – the train is 2hr15, the plane is 1hr15 and when you add the trimmings involved in, her justification for flying falls down.

      1. johnny

        Not sure what train your talking about,I take the Acela Express and the fastest is 3 hours,more like 3 1/2 most times !
        -big AOC fan I think she’s great,a breath of fresh air,instead all those pale, male and stale reps.

        1. McVitty

          Honestly, while it’s nice to see new blood, it’s the same old thing when you look a bit closer….look up the “Justice Democrats” and their recruitment drive before the mid-terms. It’s not talked about a lot but it’s pretty interesting. This is where the Bernie 2016 people went and they are savvy. It looks to me like they have the potential to rise fast, strategically using identity-centered candidates (i.e. untouchable) who pedal the ideological line with limited objectivity…and it shows. While the tactics are somewhat similar, it’s a far cry from Obama….sadly.

          The business-as-usual wing of the Democratic party are going to have to decide what to do with them.

          There are videos of AOC that show that she may know less about politics than the average person who takes a casual interest…which this makes her easy to manipulate.

          Better if the tea-party guys moved into the libertarian or reform party – and Sanders, AOC and the cohort moved into the green party…less constraints, greater ability to live up to promises etc. The fact this hasn’t happened tells me it’s the same old politics with a new hat.

          I think Tulsi Gabbard is where it’s at – a proper Democrat candidate that some think would be better in the Republican party…she hasn’t the profile so the media might blur her out the way they did with Ron Paul in 2012.

          1. johnny

            JD-oh im a supporter, and a Bernie Bro :)
            I know her district, where she’s coming from and she’s been absolutely brilliant so far, owned Wilbur Ross recently at a hearing.She has energized vast numbers of young people,from different backgrounds-AOC is just so NY right now !

            Agree on Tulsi,Rashida Tlaib and also IIhan Omar are exciting additions to congress.

            Completely off topic-what’s happening with Trudeau(hanging in or resigning)and has Vancouver adjusted to legal weed,NJ is about legislate for rec but NY pushed it back another year,LA you can now consume on site.
            How’s it been in Vancouver ?

            PS-for some reason i think your in Vancouver,which i have visted many times enroute to Whistler, usually when the lonnie has a favorable exchange rate.I may be mixing you up, if so just ignore me:)

          2. jusayinlike

            I rate Tulsi ahead of AOC, agree with everything else.

            Trudeau is being outed for the horrible vile person he is, just like his vile daddy Pierre.

  4. McVitty

    So they got up at a pre-instructed time and walked out of their classrooms and were likely very happy to have any reason to skip a boring lesson….if anything, they learned how easy it is to assume power….so, well done on managing the expectations of the youth. It went so well with the Millenials, the Gen-Z crowd will be an enlightened bunch.

    Do the schools have active zero waste policies or promote recycling programs? Do they incentivise cycling to school? Or buying used books or uniforms? …wouldn’t assume so.

    As always, change starts at home…

    1. millie st murderlark

      You’ll find that a lot of primary schools are doing this nowadays.

      It seems to be the norm in most of the local schools in my area anyways, which does not make it the rule of course. But as you say, change starts at home.

Comments are closed.