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Climate Change Greta Thunberg

Published on February 4th, 2019 | by Steve Hanley

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Greta Thunberg Sets The Record Straight

February 4th, 2019 by  



For the fourth week in a row, thousand of climate protesters swarmed through Brussels last week, demanding immediate, effective action by political leaders to a honor the pious promises made in Paris in 2015. The protests have the support of Belgium’s King Phillipe.

“The climate is a disaster,” Allison Debonte, a 15-year-old demonstrator told Reuters. She adds she fears her children will not be able to live in Brussels because of climate change. Another protester holds a sign reading, “It’s you who decided… it’s us who will suffer.”

Greta Thunberg

Credit: #GretaThunberg

Blame it on Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who decided on her own that enough was enough. The time for fancy speeches and pious promises was over. Her outspoken actions, including presentations to the global climate conference in Katowice, Poland and the World Economic Conference at Davos, Switzerland, have inspired young people around the world to join in climate action protests. So far, students in Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and France have been inspired by her example and participated in climate protests of their own.

The attention she has gotten has not all been positive. She has been accused of being merely a tool of her overly ambitious parents and has received plenty of hate-filled messages on social media. She took to Facebook over the weekend to set the record straight. Her post was reprinted by Common Dreams with her permission. We present it in full here pursuant to a Creative Commons Attribution — Share Alike 3.0 License.

In Response to Lies and Hate, Let Me Make Some Things Clear About My Climate Strike

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.

I am just a messenger, and yet I get all this hate. I am not saying anything new, I am just saying what scientists have repeatedly said for decades. And 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.

Recently I’ve seen many rumors circulating about me and enormous amounts of hate. This is no surprise to me. I know that since most people are not aware of the full meaning of the climate crisis (which is understandable since it has never been treated as a crisis) a school strike for the climate would seem very strange to people in general. So let me make some things clear about my school strike.

In May 2018 I was one of the winners in a writing competition about the environment held by Svenska Dagbladet, a Swedish newspaper. I got my article published and some people contacted me, among others was Bo Thorén from Fossil Free Dalsland. He had some kind of group with people, especially youth, who wanted to do something about the climate crisis.

Many people love to spread rumors saying that I have people “behind me” or that I’m being “paid” or “used” to do what I’m doing. But there is no one “behind” me except for myself. I had a few phone meetings with other activists. The purpose was to come up with ideas of new projects that would bring attention to the climate crisis.

Bo had a few ideas of things we could do. Everything from marches to a loose idea of some kind of a school strike (that school children would do something on the schoolyards or in the classrooms). That idea was inspired by the Parkland Students, who had refused to go to school after the school shootings.

I liked the idea of a school strike. So I developed that idea and tried to get the other young people to join me, but no one was really interested. They thought that a Swedish version of the Zero Hour march was going to have a bigger impact. So I went on planning the school strike all by myself and after that I didn’t participate in any more meetings.

When I told my parents about my plans they weren’t very fond of it. They did not support the idea of school striking and they said that if I were to do this I would have to do it completely by myself and with no support from them.

On August 20, 2018 I sat down outside the Swedish Parliament. I handed out fliers with a long list of facts about the climate crisis and explanations on why I was striking. The first thing I did was to post on Twitter and Instagram what I was doing and it soon went viral. Then journalists and newspapers started to come.

A Swedish entrepreneur and business man active in the climate movement, Ingmar Rentzhog, was among the first to arrive. He spoke with me and took pictures that he posted on Facebook. That was the first time I had ever met or spoken with him. I had not communicated or encountered with him ever before.

Many people love to spread rumors saying that I have people “behind me” or that I’m being “paid” or “used” to do what I’m doing. But there is no one “behind” me except for myself. My parents were as far from climate activists as possible before I made them aware of the situation.

I am not part of any organization. I sometimes support and cooperate with several NGOs that work with the climate and environment. But I am absolutely independent and I only represent myself. And I do what I do completely for free, I have not received any money or any promise of future payments in any form at all. And nor has anyone linked to me or my family done so.

And of course it will stay this way. I have not met one single climate activist who is fighting for the climate for money. That idea is completely absurd. Furthermore, I only travel with permission from my school and my parents pay for tickets and accommodations.

My family has written a book together about our family and how me and my sister Beata have influenced my parents way of thinking and seeing the world, especially when it comes to the climate. And about our diagnoses. That book was due to be released in May. But since there was a major disagreement with the book company, we ended up changing to a new publisher and so the book was released in August instead.

Before the book was released my parents made it clear that their possible profits from the book, “Scener ur hjärtat,” will be going to eight different charities working with environment, children with diagnoses, and animal rights.

And yes, I write my own speeches. But since I know that what I say is going to reach many, many people I often ask for input. I also have a few scientists that I frequently ask for help on how to express certain complicated matters. I want everything to be absolutely correct so that I don’t spread incorrect facts, or things that can be misunderstood.

Some people mock me for my diagnosis. But Asperger is not a disease, it’s a gift. People also say that since I have Asperger I couldn’t possibly have put myself in this position. But that’s exactly why I did this. Because if I would have been “normal” and social I would have organized myself in an organisation, or started an organisation by myself.

But since I am not that good at socializing I did this instead. I was so frustrated that nothing was being done about the climate crisis and I felt like I had to do something, anything. And sometimes NOT doing things — like just sitting down outside the parliament — speaks much louder than doing things. Just like a whisper sometimes is louder than shouting.

Also there is one complaint that I “sound and write like an adult.” And to that I can only say; don’t you think that a 16-year old can speak for herself? There’s also some people who say that I oversimplify things. For example when I say that “the climate crisis is a black and white issue”; “we need to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases”; and “I want you to panic.” But that I only say because it’s true.

Yes, the climate crisis is the most complex issue that we have ever faced and it’s going to take everything from our part to “stop it.” But the solution is black and white; we need to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Because either we limit the warming to 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels, or we don’t. Either we reach a tipping point where we start a chain reaction with events way beyond human control, or we don’t. Either we go on as a civilization, or we don’t. There are no gray areas when it comes to survival.

And when I say that I want you to panic I mean that we need to treat the crisis as a crisis. When your house is on fire you don’t sit down and talk about how nice you can rebuild it once you put out the fire. If your house is on fire you run outside and make sure that everyone is out while you call the fire department. That requires some level of panic.

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.

I am just a messenger, and yet I get all this hate. I am not saying anything new, I am just saying what scientists have repeatedly said for decades. And 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.

And if you have any other concern or doubt about me, then you can listen to my TED talk below, in which I talk about how my interest for the climate and environment began. And thank you everyone for your kind support! It brings me hope.

What to make of this extraordinary statement? The fact that Greta Thunberg has to defend herself from such stupid, silly, venomous attacks is a symbol of how low public discourse has fallen in the social media era. The students of Parkland high school in Florida have experienced the same kind of mindless, hate-filled attacks for daring to suggest America’s love affair with guns has distorted the Second Amendment beyond all recognition.

It’s how Fox News operates, by slandering anyone and everyone who does not adhere to the party line it promotes. It is the price society is paying for allowing the digital age to eviscerate all notions of journalism and substitute raw emotion for thoughtful discourse instead. The digital community resembles a flock of birds or school of fish all swirling and diving in unison as if directed by some group consciousness. And it allows outpourings of pure hate to infect the minds of millions.

What is the point of education in an age when groupthink is the be all and end all of all discussions, when Flat Earth adherents and Holocaust deniers are taken seriously, or AntiVaxxers deny their children essential medical treatment because they read something online?

If the world fails to respond to the challenge of climate change in time, it may be that Google and Facebook and Instagram are as much to blame as feckless politicians. Climate deniers have become master manipulators of the digital universe solely to prop up the obscene profits of the fossil fuel companies. The wonder is not that so many have been motivated by the words and actions of Greta Thunberg. The wonder is that so many still have not been roused to demand action.

Greta Thunberg is similar to Rosa Parks, who ignited the civil rights movement in the US. Both were catalysts for change who shook society out of its comfortable illusions. The latest outpourings of racial and ethnic hatred championed by the president of the United States prove that racial equality still has a long way to go. If a general acceptance of the urgent need for climate action takes as long, the Earth will be an overheated cinder by the time a general understanding of the dangers posed by a warming planet is reached. 
 





 

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About the Author

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island and anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. His motto is, "Life is not measured by how many breaths we take but by the number of moments that take our breath away!" You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.



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