New Zealand journalist, Aimee O’Neill, couldn’t contain her laughter when the teenager climate activist she was interviewing said she had recently visited the exact place she recommended others avoid because of climate change. Now the activist’s mother says that she was bullied.
Izzy Cook, a 16-year-old from New Zealand involved with the School Strike 4 Climate movement in her country, joined radio host Heather du Plessis-Allan on NewstalkZB to discuss her activism. “Am I allowed to go to Fiji? Is that necessary?” the radio host asked. “In the current climate crisis, I don’t think that’s necessary travel,” Cook responded.
Du Plessis-Allan asked, “When was your last time on a plane?”
“I don’t know,” Cook hesitated and replied, “Maybe a few months back.”
“Where’d it take you?” du Plessis-Allan again asked.
Cook said, “Fiji” after a brief moment.
Uncontrollable laughter erupted as the host exclaimed “Izzy!” “Izzy! “Izzy!
Cook answered the question, “My parents took me on vacation to the South Pacific islands paradise.”
Du Plessis-Allan asked, “Are your parents embarrassed that you did that to the world and then forced you to do it?”
Cook responded, “Of course, I am not embarrassed.”
“Did it get terrible?” du Plessis-Allan asked.
Cook replied, “Not really,” before Cook cut off the host with more laughter.
Rose Cook, the mother of Izzy Cook, wrote an opinion piece for The Spinoff in New Zealand, despite the fact that du Plessis-Allan was wrong. She claimed that her daughter was bullied.
“Commentators such as du Plessis-Allan don’t care about climate change,” said the mother. She also admitted that her daughter and she flew to Fiji in July. They don’t care about the fact that Arctic ice melts at four times the rate expected, or that extreme weather events are killing and dislocating more people around the world. These commentators resort to ad hominem arguments for point-scoring and discrediting opponents.
Rose Cook also expressed appreciation for her daughter’s responsible lifestyle. Rose Cook said that her daughter is a vegetarian and uses public transport. She also buys second-hand. The discussion needs to focus on radically changing the way we live, creating sustainable communities, and producing and eating locally. Not just about getting away with it.
Fiji is approximately 1,600 miles from Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. This distance is about the same as New York City to Austin Texas. According to BlueSkyModel, an airplane emits 53 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile.
This interview took place as the European Union, whose official policy is to become “a climate neutral society” by 2050 struggles to secure reliable oil supplies in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Many European countries resort to burning wood chips. Greta Thunberg, a teenage climate activist from Sweden, sharply refutes this move.
The Guardian article, written by a 19-year-old, stated that forest biomass burns in minutes. However, it can take decades or centuries for climate change and environmentally hazardous tree plantations to sequester carbon emitted. This amounts to decades of carbon debts, which we don’t have the time for.
Izzy Cook is not the only climate activist to be accused of flying unnecessarily. John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s climate czar, was widely criticized last year after a report revealed that his private jet had been used for at most 20 trips in the first half of 2021. Each trip emitted 30 times more carbon than a typical passenger car.