Social Justice

Greta Thunberg: A Voice Of A Generation

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Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?

My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 16 years old. I come from Sweden. And I speak on behalf of future generations.”

Sat on the steps of the Swedish Parliament clutching a banner expressing the words ‘Skolstrejk för klimatet’ (School strike for climate) is the voice of a global movement; Greta Thunberg, a school girl determined to urge the government to respond to the imminent dangers of climate change.

The current ecological crisis our world faces is astonishing as it is the common consensus amongst scientific researchers that in order to prevent a climate catastrophe, global carbon emissions need to be cut by 50% within the next 11 years. If temperatures go beyond the 1.5C threshold it is feared that climate change will be unstoppable by 2030. 

After learning about climate change in school, Greta felt inspired to raise awareness about our planet. She soon became disillusioned and vexed by the lack of compassion and concern by politicians which prompted her to begin her protests. 

In a written piece titled We Don’t Have Time Greta explains that:

“The first time I heard about global warming, I thought: that can’t be right, no way there is something serious enough to threaten our very existence. Because otherwise, we would not be talking about anything else. As soon as you turn on the TV, everything would be about this issue. Headlines, radio, newspapers. You would never read or hear about anything else.

As if a world war was raging. But in fact, no one was talking…”

Exasperated at the fact that climate change is not an international conversation, Greta has sacrificed her schooling to strike every Friday on the steps of parliament. Now, week 42 of school strikes Greta has gained an international audience with the FFF Fridays for Future campaign. The FFF is a worldwide campaign where students are vowing to boycott school every Friday until their countries adhere to the 2015 Paris agreement which aims to prevent global temperatures from rising 1.5C (34.7F) above pre-industrial levels. 

Critics have lambasted her as nothing more than a brainwashed child when in reality Greta is merely impassioned by the facts. In a report by the IPCC it reveals that “limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by about 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050”. 

Scorned or revered Greta’s influence goes beyond the audience of school children as she consistently voices the hard facts at ted talks, in debates with several politicians and most recently she joined Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Austrian World Summit in the hope to inspire change. Politicians should feel ashamed and humiliated that it has come down to a child to be the one to take a stand for action and urge for change. 

For years the public has been ill-informed about the severity of climate change and has been predominantly labelled the source of the blame. But the public can only do so much. We were told to recycle – we do. We were told to turn off lights, save water, cut food waste- we do. Ultimately, it is the larger corporations that need to change. The nauseating statistics of their carbon emissions are a result of poor planning and the soul need to save money in order to keep pockets weighted. 

As we are finally acknowledging the fact that we are facing a common threat to humanity and to our ecosystem the proverbial phrase ‘too little too late’ springs to mind. It should not have taken an individual as young as Greta Thunberg to recognise the hard facts and act as a representative for change. It is now time for world leaders, business moguls, anyone with the power to physically make a difference to take the wheel and then naturally the public will follow suit.

Greta is living and breathing evidence that the power of a single voice is consequential. Every voice big or small has a chance to be heard and every voice has the potential to be an agent for change. If one voice is the cause of a global movement, imagine the power of one million or ten million. 

“Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about that…the future of humanity and indeed, all life on earth, now depends on us.”- Sir David Attenborough.