Calm and clever 16 year old Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg is shining a light on the world’s inaction on climate change and the catastrophe the world potentially faces should governments, companies, citizens and travellers decide not to rise to our climate challenges.
The solution is simple, she writes in a recent post on Facebook in which she has defended her actions: ‘Yes, the climate crisis is the most complex issue that we have ever faced and it’s going to take everything from our part to “stop it.” But the solution is black and white; we need to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases’.
Greta, who has Asperger’s, was conscious of the world’s silence on the climate crisis way back when she was 8 years old, when (she remembers) all she was asked to do was turn off lights and recycle paper. She grew into a climate activist during the course of her childhood, and inspired her sister and her parents to make huge changes to their own lives before taking on the world.
Continually bemused at the world’s inaction on climate change and annoyed by the empty speeches of politicians, Greta decided to take brave action in August 2018 with her solo School Strike for Climate outside the Swedish Parliament. It was recognised internationally, and her confrontation with Swedish politicians has inspired young people from Sweden, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK to stage climate action protests of their own under the hashtag #ClimateStrike.
Only last week in the UK, the union of head teachers in the UK backed plans by pupils from schools in 27 towns and cities across the UK including Cardiff, Brighton, Exeter and Glasgow to walk of their lessons in a “strike” to protest climate change (read more here).
Greta has also given an inspirational call to arms in a Ted Talk, and went on to give clear, outspoken presentations to the global climate conference in Katowice, Poland and the World Economic Conference at Davos, Switzerland, in which she says, ‘I want you to panic’.
Indeed, all her words are wise and to the point. ‘The media need to put the climate crisis on every headline, on every front page,’ she says. ‘We have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again. We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge. And since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.’
Shockingly – or perhaps not so shockingly – Greta’s action has caused plenty of hate-filled messages on social media as well as devoted followers and fellow activists. So much so that she has written a post on Facebook to state her case once again (which I quote from in the first paragraph, and which you can read in Common Dreams).
In her post, Greta also says that people who say we shouldn’t be listening to children is ‘easily fixed’. ‘Just start to listen to the rock solid science instead’, she says. ‘Because if everyone listened to the scientists and the facts that I constantly refer to—then no one would have to listen to me or any of the other hundreds of thousands of school children on strike for the climate across the world. Then we could all go back to school’.
That Greta has had to defend herself in this manner is unsurprising but also deeply worrying. As Steve Hanely writes on Clean Technica, climate deniers have become master manipulators of the digital universe solely to prop up the obscene profits of the fossil fuel companies. ‘If the world fails to respond to the challenge of climate change in time’, he says, ‘it may be that Google and Facebook and Instagram are as much to blame as feckless politicians’.
School Strike for Climate, also known as Justice 4 Climate, Fridays for Future or Kid’s Strike 4 Climate, a growing international movement of students leaving their school to take part in demonstrations for climate action calls for a global strike on Friday, March 15.
We at NOW urge each person to treat this as a crisis, just like Greta is doing. To take real and bold action on climate change, and to speak out clearly on the issue, no matter how uncomfortable or unprofitable that may be. We need to use the power of our votes and wallets to push all our governments and the businesses we support to be accountable and transparent, and to do whatever it takes for the planet to stay below 1.5C. The bigger your carbon footprint is, the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform is, the bigger your responsibility. It must be NOW!