She was in the news a lot lately, but I didn’t pay much attention until I saw her speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit this morning. It was an incredible speech, beautiful and emotional. It shows that she is an incredible girl. Greta Thunberg was raised in a strongly cultured environment (her grandfather is/was an actor, her father is an actor and writer and her mother is an opera singer!) so it is not a surprise that she is well awaken to the state of the world. She started protesting alone, but finally won many followers. She gaves many speeches (you can also watch her TED speech) and published a book about them. She crossed an ocean in a sail boat to come deliver that latest speech. And yet, she is just a teenager.
She also received lots of criticisms from morons: they complained about her looks (yes, she’s sixteen but looks like she’s ten), about her mental health (she suffers from Asperger’s syndrome), accused her of not writing her own speeches, of being manipulated. She responded that such personal attacks only show that her detractors have “no argument or nothing else to say”. Indeed. And, frankly, who cares? It is simply beautiful to see such idealism, courage and determination in a young person. People should just admire that and not try to ruin it merely because they are mean or jealous.
Some people also complained that such idealism won’t amount to anything. Yes, it’s cute to see a teenage girl do all those things, but it will not move the mountains that need to be moved to succeed in saving the planet. At best, they say, it is a distraction. After all, mass shootings like Sandy Hook or Stoneman Douglas H.S. (despite the short-lived activism of some of its students) failed to change anything in the U.S. gun law… Why should it be different with this wave of protestations and manifestations ? To that I answer: Why not? What do we have to lose as we realize more and more that our planet is indeed on fire? Certainly, it cannot do any harm. It will build up and eventually the back of the proverbial camel will break…
Greta actions are great. They are an inspiration to all, but mostly to her own generation. Yes, the young people tend to be apathetic and rarely vote or express opinion. But that seems to be changing now. The U.S. mid-term elections of 2018 is the proof as more young people, more women and more minorities voted. Also more women, more minorities and younger candidates (including the infamous “Squad”) were elected. It shows that the ground is finally moving and activism is changing. Hopefully, the ball will keep rolling and might bring real change this time. And Greta will be a great inspiration.
Our house is on fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis, by Malena Ernman with Greta, Beata and Svante Thunberg. (Penguin, 288 pg, £16.99, to be released on 2020/03/05; originally published in Swedish on 2018/08/23): A biography of Swedish opera singer Malena Ernman where, among other things, she recounts (with the collaboration of her husband Svante Thunberg and daughters Greta and Beata) how Greta came to be involved in climate activism. [ Goodreads • Penguin • Wikipedia ]
All this reminds me of Bill Nye The Science Guy’s speech about the planet being on fire on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2019/05/12). Here’s the short clip but you can find the whole video on Youtube:
Will the people in power finally listen? Nothing individuals like us can do will help much (of course we can do our part with the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle — and we can get involved in activism!). The only solution is political: we must pressure — by all means possible — the politicians so they enact the necessary changes to save the planet, to save ourselves. Changes like stopping being so darn dependant on fossil energy, like investing all we can in renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.), like passing laws to force everyone to do their part (like forbidding gas engines in car starting in five years from now for new cars, and ten years from now for ALL cars — switching to electric or fuel cell engines), or like really sticking to the Paris Agreement, like promoting sustainability at all levels, like changing society itself, like the Green New Deal, etc. This is our last chance. For the future generations.
Unfortunately, it probably won’t change anything. Humans are stupid and because of that we are most likely doomed. However, we are also driven, moved and inspired by hope…
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