The world take note..we have a new spokesperson for the planet…
I had been ignorant of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish girl who has thundered on the world stage as a climate activist, that is until last week when I tuned into her Ted Talk. I was awestruck by her composure, her knowledge, and her willingness to cut to the truth of what is happening to our planet and then chastising our complacency to take real action in spite of the scientific facts. Greta’s intensity is riveting as she speaks.
Greta at age 8 heard about climate change, fell into a deep depression, and went mute. This resulted in her diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome (a high functioning form of autism), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and selective mutism. She started pulling out of her depression when she began to formulate an action plan for climate change. First she wrote essays. Then inspired by Parkland students, she decided to organize a school strike. Since no one else would join her she started striking from school alone sitting in front of the Swedish Parliament for three weeks handing out leaflets. Her demands were that the Swedish government reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Eventually, through social media and the press, her fame began to spread. Since then, she’s inspired school strikes around the world and has become the hero of thousands of school children as well as adults. Greta speaks globally about the importance of action to solve climate change. Time magazine featured her on the cover of their May 27th issue and she has made the list of the 100 most influential people of 2019
I find it interesting how threatened conservative men can be in the presence of strong women. Greta also reminds me of Pakistani Malala Yousafza. She was shot in the head for advocating for the right of education for girls by a Taliban gunman as she was riding on a school bus in 2012. Malala too was 16 years old. After recovering in England from her injuries she currently travels the world advocating for the rights of women and girls. Malala became the youngest recipient for the Nobel Peace Prize. Greta, as she travels the globe speaking, has been bombarded with hate talk mostly by right-wing individuals from everything to her age, her mental illness, and her appearance. Responding to her haters, she recently tweeted: ”
“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning!”
“I have Asperger’s syndrome and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm,” she continued, “and – given the right circumstances – being different is a superpower.”
Having had experience with Asperger’s students as a teacher. I found those students amazingly intelligent, hyper-focused, and see the world in more black and white terms. In this regard, I think Greta’s Asperger’s in an asset to her and her cause.
There is one other argument that I can’t do anything about. And that is the fact that I’m “just a child and we shouldn’t be listening to children.” But that is easily fixed—just start to listen to the rock-solid science instead. 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.
Thunberg has requested not to put too much attention on her. “I think there is a lot of focus on me as an individual and not on the climate itself,” “I think we should focus more on the climate issue because this is not about me.”
“I agree with you, I’m too young to do this. We children shouldn’t have to do this. But since almost no one is doing anything, and our very future is at risk, we feel like we have to continue.”
Rather than fly in a fuel-guzzling jet, Thunberg recently braved 15 days of stormy seas in a carbon-neutral sailboat from Europe to the United States. She is here to support the USA climate strike movement and to continue spreading her message before for the 2019 UN Climate Summit in New York City in this month.
“Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.”
She is so right. It’s time for us all to step up to the plate no matter how inconvenient the truth is.