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This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.

Real Leadership vs Climate Grandstanding

If the crisis is real, why don’t prominent individuals act like it?

Climate activists frequently employ war analogies. Prince Charles has likened the climate threat “to Britain’s battle against Nazi Germany in World War II.” Al Gore has invoked the spirit of Churchill, lamenting that the public refuses to understand that the danger is “as urgent as that from Hitler.” Hollywood filmmaker James Cameron has called for “a mobilisation to tackle climate change, of a scale similar to that of World War II.”

But while prominent people say there’s a climate crisis, their behaviour says something else. Such individuals almost never walk the talk. They urge politicians to take action, to impose carbon taxes on ordinary people (these are intended to curb travel by making it too expensive), yet they themselves don’t hesitate to jump on a jet. Witness Prince Harry who, before and after delivering a speech about the environment recently, nevertheless traveled by private plane.

In the 2016 video at the top of this post, Leonardo DiCaprio compares the fight against climate change to another historical struggle, the one against slavery. He declares himself “absolutely terrified. “He says there’s “a runaway freight train bringing with it an impending disaster for all living things.” He talks about honour and dishonour, and says there should be “no more excuses.”

Yet there’s no indication whatsoever that this man has abandoned his gas-guzzling private jets, his mega yachts, his multiple mansions, or his private island off the coast of Central America’s Belize. I assure you, people don’t arrive on that island by canoe.

Words are cheap. Deeds are what matter.

What does real leadership look like? Let us turn to the iconic video series, Band of Brothers, about US paratroopers during WW2. Here’s how Richard Winters, the commander of Easy Company, talks about leadership on page 287 of his own memoirs:

The Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, has defined leadership in just two words via its motto: “Follow Me!” Never ask your team to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. When I hit the ground [on D-Day] armed only with a trench knife…I grabbed the first trooper I could find, and said, “Follow me!”

[bold added]

Real leaders don’t invent excuses as to why they themselves are exempt. When politicians, members of royal families, and Hollywood celebrities start behaving, en masse, like there’s a climate crisis, that will be an important turning point.

 

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Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters
Richard Winters
Band of Brothers
HBO Home Video

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2019 by in ethical & philosophical.
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