Who is Greta Thunberg? She is a 16-year-old climate activist who has inspired an international youth movement. At just 16 years, Greta Thunberg has started an international youth movement against climate change.
Thunberg first became known for her activism in August 2018 when, at age 15, she began spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger climate action by holding up a sign saying (in Swedish) “School strike for climate”. Soon, other students engaged in similar protests in their own communities. Together they organized a school climate strike movement under the name Fridays for Future. After Thunberg addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference, student strikes took place every week somewhere in the world. In 2019, there were at least two coordinated multi-city protests involving over one million students each.
Greta Thunberg has really affected today’s society and has created the “Greta Thunberg effect”, in response to her outspoken stance, various politicians have also acknowledged the need to focus on climate change. Britain’s secretary for the environment, Michael Gove, said: “When I listened to you, I felt great admiration, but also responsibility and guilt. I am of your parents’ generation, and I recognise that we haven’t done nearly enough to address climate change and the broader environmental crisis that we helped to create.” Labour politician Ed Miliband, who was responsible for introducing the Climate Change Act 2008, said: “You have woken us up. We thank you. All the young people who have gone on strike have held up a mirror to our society … you have taught us all a really important lesson. You have stood out from the crowd.”
However, despite the incredible things Greta has done so far, giving speeches to the UN, meeting Trump and the Pope, there are some elements that need to be addressed about the way Greta is trying to influence this new view of Climate Change. It is understandable that as a 16-year-old, it would be impossible to pressure governments to implement immediate change, though she has managed to influence certain countries. Her tactic so far is simple. She raises awareness and she has masses of communities who follow her join her in her strikes and her attempts to raising Awareness on the issue of climate change. However, this is actually a way to implement change through society. Her aim is to pressure the governments through groups of people to make a change. However, that plan isn’t completely stable as the environment isn’t just affected by society but also the economy. Until Greta’s recent speech to the UN, she never mentioned or acknowledged how making such sudden changed could affect the way we live as well as the effects on the economy.
I personally feel that the objective of this change-making is being guided into another direction as people are becoming more focused on Greta herself rather than the problem. People are becoming too fixated on things like Greta having Asperger’s Syndrome and using it to her benefit when this shouldn’t be the topic of discussion at all. We shouldn’t be arguing whether a teenage girl is right or wrong, either way, the environment is deteriorating and it is collectively our fault so rather than pointing fingers and finding figures to blame, we should actually be working together to change things, together.
Although she is trying to make a change, she is constantly being mocked:
President Trump tweeted sarcastically on Monday that Thunberg, who had just charged the audience at the United Nations Climate Summit with stealing “my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” seemed like “a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.” Others who can be called right-wingers also mocked and dismissed Thunberg, with conservative commentator Michael Knowles calling the 16-year-old activist a “mentally ill Swedish child” on Fox News.
Knowles (a conservative podcaster) appears to have been insulting Thunberg for having Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. Autism isn’t a mental illness, it’s classified as a developmental disability. But advocates say that attacks like the ones Thunberg has faced are all too familiar for autistic people. “were about science it would be led by scientists rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”
Recently, Jeremy Clarkson (a broadcaster) called Greta Thunberg a “spoiled brat” after her speech in front of the UN. He raged, “How dare you sail to America on a carbon fibre yacht that you didn’t build which cost £15million, that you didn’t earn, and which has a back-up diesel engine that you didn’t mention. Pause for a moment to consider how soundly you sleep at night, knowing that adults are building and servicing and flying Sweden’s fighter planes. To keep you safe. We gave you mobile phones and laptops and the internet. We created the social media you use every day and we run the banks that pay for it all,’ he added. ‘So how dare you stand there and lecture us, you spoilt brat.’ (read the full article: link)
In a way, Clarkson isn’t incorrect. A majority of the things the current generation has access to is because of the previous generations. Of course, the way Clarkson has lashed out at Greta is unacceptable, but, it was a response to her initial speech at the UN. In his response, Clarkson mentioned how “Because science is what will solve the problem eventually.” He’s right, science is the only way to substantially end climate change. However, spending this precious time, time that we could be spending on actually finding proper solutions on instead discussing whether Greta is a fraud or not, shouldn’t be in the limelight. It should be remembered that in one decade the carbon footprint will be irreversible in its impact on Earth.
In conclusion, I think that it is safe to say to that either way, it is admirable that Greta Thunberg as a 16-year-old has been able to move several people into wanting to make changes. So, rather than constantly debating whether her personal life matters or not, the focus should be on finding practical solutions to ending climate change. Like Greta, a similar activist, Malala was very popular in 2011 after she survived a bullet to the head. Despite her popularity increasing and her winning a Noble Peace Prize, Malala over time began to fade away and became a poster girl while her cause of providing women education in Pakistan didn’t entirely see any success. Greta too should not be reduced to becoming a mere figurehead endorsing climate change over whom left (in support) and right-wingers (against) will squabble.