Joan of Arc, Mary Shelley, Malala Yousafzai… teenagers who had revolution running through their veins from the get-go and who wouldn’t let being young, or female, hold them back. Now Greta Thunberg, the 16 year-old from Stockholm who might be the only person on the planet with a hope of saving it, joins their ranks.
Greta is implacable in the face of considerable opposition; there are no deals to be brokered in private rooms, no quid pro quos, just a simple plea for those with the power to do something about climate change to actually do something about climate change. As Greta said at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year: “I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”
Greta is making headlines for all the right reasons, but she has come in for a fair amount of flack as well (more on that in a moment). However, the Gretaphobes’ criticism and defamation is having little impact on Ms Thunberg’s progressive environmental campaign and it’s partly because she has no interest in playing the game. She is not seeking to further her own cause and rather than increase her own standing or popularity, she would rather increase the number of people taking up the cause and not taking it up in her name, either, but rather taking it up for its own sake.
Greta has no hidden motive (well, I don’t think so); she isn’t promoting reducing the temperature by having every government investing in the Thunberg 500 coolomatic. She has no dangerous political baggage that could damage her message or railroad its progress. It’s not about her, it’s about the planet.
Greta’s lack of artifice is refreshing; she knows she’s just a kid, she draws attention to the fact that she can’t possibly comprehend the scientific data about climate change in all its minutiae because she doesn’t have a slew of doctorates to her name. But that is the point, because neither do the politicians. “Listen to the scientists, listen to the experts,” she tells us. In fact, when she had a global audience waiting to see what personal testimony she would deliver to the House Climate Crisis Committee in the US, she simply submitted the landmark UN report published last year that spelled out the truly dreadful consequences for the planet if our atmosphere continues to warm.
Greta’s simple, stark delivery of the truth, rather than proposing solutions makes her harder to argue with. She isn’t telling us how to fix climate change, but challenging us to get on with it. If she based her argument on taxing fossil fuels, banning plastic, or protecting the rainforest, then there would be dissenters quick to criticise that she was getting it wrong or ignoring other issues. Greta keeps it short and very unsweet – people have failed to take action and now they must do so. Her authenticity is unavoidable.
Sadly, the upshot of being unable to smear her message, is that people try to smear the message-bearer. She’s a kid, a whiny schoolgirl who should be grateful for her existence, rather that trying to better it. She’s attention-seeking, odd, a puppet, mentally ill… Climate change denier Steve Milloy thought it was OK to trumpet about Greta: “She’s ignorant, maniacal and is being mercilessly manipulated by adult climate bedwetters funded by Putin.”
US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Climate warming is a hoax by socialists and China. Greta no one will ever listen to your scrunchy face. You’re a 4. And people don’t listen to 4s. #MAGA”
And in the UK, king of the inappropriate, Jeremy Clarkson, wrote in The Sun that Greta’s address to the UN was a “full-on adolescent meltdown” and that she is a “spoilt brat” who should “be a good girl, shut up and let [the adults] get on with” addressing climate change.
All this child-bashing has little effect. Thunberg is unmoved by it and therefore remains unwavering. She lets the barbs slide past with barely a second glance and simply redirects attention to her message. She recently tweeted: “I honestly don’t understand why adults would choose to spend their time mocking and threatening teenagers and children for promoting science, when they could do something good instead. I guess they must simply feel so threatened by us. “ The clarion call to action pervades everything she does; she will not be swayed from telling people that something must be done, while at no point ever pretending or arrogantly assuming she has the answers. There is no #BrandGreta, simply truth and a persistent prodding that people should act. Act soon and act fast, for out of the mouths of babes comes strength. Let’s hope it’s infectious.
Author: Vulp Fiction (Our very own Vixen with her paw on the pulse).