Greta Thunberg is a 5 ft, 16 year old girl with a mission. Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg born on 3rd January, 2003 has nothing exceptional in her, except for a steel will to save the coming generations from a miserable future. Greta has been chosen as the 2019 person of the year by TIME. She is a climate activist who intends to become a messiah of positive environmental change.
Global temperatures have risen by 1.5 degrees in the last century, and are still rising steadily. Every fraction of the rise in temperatures will have a disastrous effect on the environment.
Over 390 billion tons of glaciers are melting every year due to global warming. Since 1961 the world has lost 10.6 trillion tons of snow. It has been predicted that most of the mountain glaciers will have melted within 2050. The consequences of this will be drastic, as the major rivers that these glaciers feed will dry up. The absence of the major rivers will result in severe drought. The underground water which has already depleted will not be able to save the inhabitants of the Earth- including the trees.
It is the endangered species which will face extinction first. Everything on earth is inter-dependent; hence extinction of one species will set off a domino effect.
When Greta was a child, her primary school teacher taught her class about Global warming and climate change. The students were shown pictures of starving polar bears and other animals. While other students went on with their regular routine; Greta could not accept the fact that the adults, who were responsible for Global warming, were not bothered about the adverse effects which the next generations will have to face.
She was unable to eat, as she went into depression. Her condition worsened, and she had to be hospitalised. Her parents tried to bring her out of depression. Greta herself recalls feeling confused. “I couldn’t understand how that could exist, that existential threat, and yet we didn’t prioritise it,” she remarked.
Her father assured her, that everything is going to be fine. But Greta refused to acknowledge it. Her father too knew in his heart of hearts that everything was not all right. The entire family took up environment friendly measures and Greta gradually came out of her depressed state. They gave up meat and flying as part of their contributions towards being an environment friendly household. She started to feel better as she was doing her bit to resolve the problem.
The thing which amazed her, was the absolute mode of denial of the authorities of the world regarding Climate change. The response to the impending catastrophe was extremely feeble and disappointing. She therefore decided to call a school strike to get the attention of the Government. In August 2018 she called a school strike and sat down to protest before the Swedish parliament.
“My name is Greta, I am in ninth grade, and I am school-striking for the climate,” she wrote on each banner. “Since you adults don’t give a damn about my future, I won’t either.”
She had been diagnosed with the Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and selective mutism. She thinks it is a blessing for her. “I see the world in black and white, and I don’t like compromising,” she told during a school break earlier this year. “If I were like everyone else, I would have continued on and not seen this crisis.” If her brain worked differently, she explained, “I wouldn’t be able to sit for hours and read things I’m interested in.”
“Young people tend to have a fantastic impact in public opinion around the world- Governments follow.” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. The messages of various organisations often fell on deaf ears. People would just sort of say, ‘Ah yeah, but that’s not me,’ – having children say, ‘We have no future’ is far more effective. When children say something like that, adults feel very bad.
Greta’s speeches often cut straight. “You say you love your children above all else,” she said in her first big address at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Poland last December. “And yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.” The world’s temperature rise has hit the 1.5°C mark—an eventuality that scientists warn will expose some 350 million additional people to drought and push roughly 120 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.
“I want you to panic,” she told the annual convention of CEOs and world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January. “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”
In September, speaking to heads of state during the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg pointed out: “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” she said. “How dare you.”
The awareness created by children is having some effect on the global outlook. Companies are feeling the pressure, employees as well as consumers are more aware than before and societies are expecting results. The smogs in the big cities are re-confirming the existential crisis.
“People are underestimating the force of angry kids,” she said. “We are angry and frustrated, and that is because of good reason. If they want us to stop being angry then maybe they should stop making us angry.”
Thunberg travelled from Europe to America in August 2019. She sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Plymouth, England, to New York USA, in a 60 ft racing yacht equipped with solar panels and underwater turbines. The trip was announced as a carbon-neutral transatlantic crossing serving as a demonstration of Thunberg’s declared beliefs of the importance of reducing emissions.
Greta travelled through USA and Canada creating mass protests against Climate change. She attended the UN Climate Action summit in New York City. She also led the biggest climate rally in Montreal, which the Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau attended.
She also planned to attend the COP 25 Climate Change Conference in Santiago, Chile. When the conference was shifted to Spain Greta tweeted, “As #COP25 has officially been moved from Santiago to Madrid I’ll need some help.” “Now I need to find a way to cross the Atlantic in November … If anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful.”
Riley Whitelum, an Australian who has been sailing around the world with his wife, Elayna Caraus aboard La Vagabonde, offered her help. Though crossing the Atlantic in November amid storms is no mean feat for a sixteen year old. Greta has a point to make. “I’m not travelling like this because I want everyone to do so,” Thunberg told reporters after she walked, onto dry land for the first time in weeks. “I’m doing this to send a message that it is impossible to live sustainably today, and that needs to change.”
“One person stops flying doesn’t make much difference,” she says. “The thing we should look at is the emissions curve—it’s still rising. Of course something is happening, but basically nothing is happening.” It saddens her to think that in spite of the large scale protests by children whose future is at stake; nothing substantial is being achieved.
Many trolls, including world leaders have criticised her personality, her actions, her understanding about climate change and her mannerisms. No one is perfect, and it is not expected from children to find solutions to the problems created by adults. Children are contributing in their own way according to their understanding, and creating awareness about the impending problems. In doing so they are also psychologically conditioning their own generation to come up with solutions to the problem. Climate change did not happen overnight, nor is it expected to be resolved overnight. The awareness which is created by children will have a great impact in the years to come.
On Dec. 6, the tens of thousands of people flooded into Madrid to demonstrate for climate action on behalf of children. Above their heads, the wind carried furious messages—“Merry Crisis and a Happy New Fear; You Will Die of Old Age, I Will Die of Climate Change.”
Greta’s message to the World authorities is clean and clear. “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!”
“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” she says, “That is all we are saying.”
We children are doing this to wake adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis.We children are doing this because we want our dreams and hopes back.Greta Thunberg.