STANDING on the Old Course, watching the magnificent firework display at St Andrews, I wondered if Greta Thunberg would be able to appreciate an event like this, to find joy in the celebration, or if this would be seen as just more carbon, more fire that is burning down our house, as Greta put it.

Environmentalism has often been the concern of the opulent aristocracy, most recently witnessed with Prince Harry preaching about limiting the number of children he (read we) should have. Here we find that even the joy of a new-born child is consumed by our misanthropic culture that has created the cult surrounding Greta.

This cult masquerades as being enlightened and scientific, but it is neither. It sees itself as radical, not appearing to notice that the doors of power are being flung open at the feet of a 16-year-old with a message of fear and limits.

More religious than scientific, the moralistic knee is bent to the innocent child-prophet whose black and white (read childlike) vision of doom, portrays a fallen industrial world that needs to be reined in. Self-proclaimed liberal and radical believers, the same people who scream austerity at politicians, appear unaware that Greta’s Malthusian message, their message, is austerity forever: produce less, consume less, stop your greed.

One wonders what the 16-year-olds who make up part of the three billion of the world living in abject poverty make of the demand from the Western middle classes that we limit growth and development.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this movement is the suffocating atmosphere it creates. It’s one-eyed negativity about humanity not only limits our ability to see the great advances we have made but will limit our capacity to think big, to think imaginatively, to boldly go, with the help of science, technology and human ingenuity, to places we cannot yet imagine.

Environmental problems will not be solved by undermining our sense of possibilities or by training the next generation to have a profound sense of fear and loathing. Nor will it be solved by spending our time recycling and worrying about how next to limit ourselves.

Big problems are solved when we can think big, when we think on an industrial scale - when we think imaginatively and act rationally.

Today, we carry in our pockets, in our mobile phones, computational power that the men and women of the Apollo missions could only dream of. What we are losing, however, is the capacity to dream in the first place. To dare to know.