“We need to focus every inch of our being on climate change. Because if we fail to do so, then all of our achievements and progress have been for nothing.” Greta Thunberg, speech to the EU leaders, February 2019
If you haven’t yet heard Greta Thunberg speak, now would be a good time to do it. She has suddenly gained the world’s attention as a mighty and fearless warrior for our planet Earth. And she is just getting started.
Greta is sixteen and tiny, with long mahogany braids, clear blue eyes, and a determined set to her jaw. She is Swedish, and for the past school year she’s been striking in front of the Swedish parliament house every Friday. Her demands are so very simple, and extremely clear: that the adults who run her country actually DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO REVERSE CLIMATE CHANGE AND HOLD TO THE PARIS AGREEMENT. Now she’s on tour, if you will, and has appeared at COP 24, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and most recently spoke before members of the EU on Thursday, February 21st. Whether alone or with schoolmates, Greta takes command of the room. Her message is utterly on point and without any sort of artifice. Her words cut through all the static and egoism present, and like an extraordinarily sharp blade, cut to the heart of our human-created, global situation. She is asking for the people who have the power to take responsibility for their decisions and to begin making better choices, now.
In her speech before a crowd at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Greta stated,
We know that most politicians don’t want to talk to us. Good, we don’t want to talk to them either. We want them to talk to the scientists instead. Listen to them because we are just repeating what they are saying and have been saying for decades– just unite behind the science–that is our demand.
I’m sorry but saying everything will be alright while continue doing nothing at all it’s just not hopeful to us. In fact, it’s the opposite of hope and yet this is exactly what you keep doing. You can’t just sit around waiting for hope to come, then you’re acting like spoiled, irresponsible children. You don’t seem to understand that hope is something you have to earn and if you still say that we are wasting valuable lesson time then let me remind you that our political leaders have wasted decades through denial and inaction, and since our time is running out we have decided to take action. We have started to clean up your mess and we will not stop until we are done. Watch her speech via The Guardian here
This young, fearless teenager has become, whether she intended to or not, the poster child for the climate crisis that is now in full swing on our home world. Most people will either continue to deny or else to cringe at these words, yet Greta, with her clear blue eyes and calm, measured demeanor, is calling it out for the rest of us. And she is absolutely right—the world’s leaders and CEOs ARE acting like spoiled, irresponsible children, as they continue to unabashedly allow the destruction of Earth in the name of profits. This is, as Greta pointedly states, destroying her generation’s chances at any kind of a healthy future life for all those being born and all those yet to come. She’s right again by stating that the Power Elite have known for decades that their decisions and actions (and inactions) would create the situation we are in now. And yet, they only cared about their bottom line, which grew increasingly engorged from oil profits as time passed.
Greta Thunberg is absolutely correct in her summation and demands of the adults in the world’s highest level meetings: Listen to the climate scientists. Stop pretending.
And above all, TAKE URGENT ACTION, NOW.
What she knows, and the scientists know, and what anyone who is not living in denial surely knows by now, is that human beings have already done irretrievable damage to Earth. We have instigated the Sixth Mass Extinction; our fossil fuel appetite has started the cycle of global warming that cannot be undone. The UN’s IPCC report states that we have roughly a decade to urgently change the way we’re using energy, or…. Let’s just say the world will soon be uninhabitable for many. Greta urged the world’s leaders to see our situation for what it is: a crisis. She wants them to panic, to realize that humanity MUST CHANGE THE WAY WE ARE LIVING EVERY DAY, AND CHANGE RIGHT NOW. Not next year, or by 2030, or any of that nonsense. NOW. Right now.
What is, in my opinion, so remarkable about Greta Thunberg and her simple activism, is that she has completely empowered the youngest members of our societies to spring into action. Last week there were school children protesting all around the UK. There have been student protests in Germany, Switzerland, Australia and it is spreading. In March, organizers are planning a global school strike day for climate change. It’s no longer something that only some progressive adults are doing. Now that youth and children are getting involved and taking to the streets, the climate movement is gaining the kind of momentum that must lead to real change. Why? Because Greta is right: The world’s youth are inheriting the horrible mess that we adults have created over the past fifty years. They are the ones who must live in the future world. The Millennials and Generation Z (those born around the turn of the 21st century) comprise a large percentage of the world’s population. And more are coming every day. This is an unprecedented, world-wide crisis that has no national boundaries, nor specially preserved places that won’t be affected. Species are going extinct in all parts of the globe. The ice caps are melting on both poles. The coastlines will be inundated along all continents. Climate change is the great equalizer. It doesn’t care about race, gender or religion, material wealth or poverty, or any of the distinctions we humans are so fond of keeping in place.
The world’s children are waking up, standing up, and shouting. To ignore them any longer is not only foolish, but will soon be impossible. They will not be stopped. I, and many, many others like me, are standing behind them and cheering. The world’s leaders and their oil-soaked backers have done everything possible to ignore their citizens’ collective outcry. But they will not be allowed to ignore the children any longer.
Greta Thunberg and all those who will come after her will make sure of it.
To find out more about Greta Thunberg, read this article in Earth Island Journal here.