No One is Too Small to Make a Difference
In 2018 Greta,* aged 15, made headlines with her solo school strike over the climate crisis, since which she has received plaudits and vilification in almost equal amounts. “She should not be skipping school,” declare the nay-sayers, “She’s being paid or used, she’s spouting speeches written for her,” shout others without a shred of evidence because they can’t or won’t believe that a teenager can speak so intelligently, passionately and persuasively.
On the evidence of these eleven speeches, given between September 2018 at the Climate March in Stockholm and April 2019 in London at the Extinction Rebellion Rally and the Houses of Parliament, the critics are wrong in every respect.
The climate crisis is real. Those in power aren’t taking it seriously. Every day, every hour, every minute is taking us the point of no return and there is no sense of urgency among governments, transnational corporations and the media. And hers is the generation that will have no future, their education counting for nothing when our world becomes too hostile for the species that still exist on it. For now.
Every speech has a key phrase that spells out her concerns and the concerns that should be alerting everyone to this existential threat:
* Our Lives are in Your Hands.
* Almost Everything is Black and White: as someone with Asperger’s she knows there can be no sitting on the fence over this.
* Unpopular: something she says doesn’t care about being, because speaking out is so much more important.
* Prove Me Wrong.
* Our House is On Fire: a leitmotiv running through these speeches.
* I’m Too Young to Do This.
* You’re Acting Like Spoiled, Irresponsible Children: this actually said to an EU committee.
* A Strange World.
* Cathedral Thinking: the title’s a reference to the fire at Notre Dame in Paris.
* Together We are Making a Difference; and, most poignantly,
* Can You Hear Me? It seems that many in power can’t or, more likely, won’t.
Every single speech is a clarion call, often reiterating the same or similar salient facts and images. The strongest image is that of a conflagration: if your house was on fire would you deny it, or pretend it would somehow reverse in due course? Would you sit around and discuss what you might do about it while staying put without any concern for the vulnerable? Would you merely wring your hands because nobody could agree that the building was going up in smoke or on what action should be being taken?
She doesn’t exactly say this but the terminology we should be using is global heating, not global warming; climate breakdown and not climate change. This is a crisis of our own making and most of us have our heads in the sand.
Everyone should heed what this younger head tells us: she is telling it as it is.
* Autocorrect kept trying to change ‘Greta’ to ‘Great’, which I thought was rather neat.