Go Greta go!
I don’t know about you but sometimes when I read about the future impact of climate change I genuinely feel I don’t know where to start. But thanks to the indefatigable efforts of a Swedish teenager, I try now to focus on the present and what I can actually do, however small.
And the person I really have to thank for that is Greta Thunberg. Now it’s not as if I hadn’t heard of or wasn’t worried about climate change before Greta started to feature on my radar. Ten years ago I read Mark Lynas’s Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, which in six chapters sets out the impact of each extra degree of global warming. It makes for very chilling reading, despite the topic.
I have written reports on alternative energy such as concentrated solar power and on the market in carbon credits, studied the expansion of the nuclear industry in the US, followed Greenpeace and been meat-free all my adult life. Admittedly with this last brownie point I freely confess that when I was 17 and became a vegetarian, I had no idea I would be making an infinitesimal reduction in the amount of methane gas in the atmosphere.
Yet it has taken Ms Thunberg’s campaigning to jolt me into carrying out a bit of a lifestyle audit in terms of my green credentials. And of course my lifestyle is far from low carbon; I drive a car and fly to holiday destinations. But this is where Greta’s example is so potent; she is a living demonstration of how effective one person’s actions can be in this area.
She is taking a year out of school to ratchet up her campaigning; it started by her walking out of school a year ago in August 2018 and sitting outside the Swedish Parliament. She had a sign that said: ‘Skolstrejk for klimatet’ which means ‘School strike for the climate’. Her message is simple: we know there is a problem, so why is nothing being done? If the grown-ups don’t learn their lessons, why should we bother going to ours?
In an age when the average 16-year-old is more concerned by her image on Instagram than the future of the planet, Greta is extraordinary. I remember myself at that age, and I didn’t give a toss about the problems then facing the world. But this young woman is different, and one of the factors that contributes to this is that she has Asperger’s Syndrome. As a result her interpersonal relationships are different to those of the typical teenager, and she may be less bothered about other people’s opinions of her.
This of course is extremely useful when you remind yourself of the ‘threat’ posed by her activism. She has been vilified in certain sections of the media, which has a vested interest in denying the proven facts of climate change. Just this week, a writer in a leading Australian newspaper has described her as ‘deeply disturbed’. She riposted with the following tweet:
‘I am indeed ”deeply disturbed” about the fact that these hate and conspiracy campaigns are allowed to go on and on and on just because we children communicate and act on the science. Where are the adults?’
A collection of her speeches has now been published by Penguin, called ‘No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference’. And no one is too big either.