My daughter, Anne bought the tiny tome No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg and gave it to me to read yesterday. The book is only 68 pages and recently published by Penguin Random House, UK.
Tome is normally used for a large scholarly work and Greta’s first book is tiny in pages and size compared to many others but it is scholarly, comprising of her speeches to climate rallies, the UN, the World Economic Forum and the British Parliament – speeches in which she recites scientific data and reveals her extensive study into the implications of global warming.
If you want to read what she actually said rather than remember news bites, doctored quotes, memes and deliberately misleading information on social media or by grumpy adults in The Australian, or on talkback radio and Sky TV, this is a handy little book to buy. There are many details to spark the conversations we need to have…
The titles of the various ‘chapters’ are apt and leave the reader in no doubt of this sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist’s determination to get her message across to everyone from students, average citizens, politicians, national leaders, activists – in fact, anyone who will listen.
Several factual statements and emotional pleas are repeated in every or most speech in a down-to-earth, some may say pedantic manner. Greta is unashamedly proud of having Asperger’s which she considers ‘a gift’ enabling her to ‘see the climate crisis in black and white.’
What Better Primary Source On Greta Than Greta’s Own Words!
On page 24, a Facebook Post by Greta on 2 February 2019, entitled ‘I’m Too Young to Do This’, she addresses the rumours and misconceptions circulating, and sadly the ‘enormous amounts of hate’ generated by her courageous stance on what she considers a climate catastrophe and unhealthy future for herself and following generations.
She clarifies and explains her journey of enlightenment and subsequent politicisation of the ‘climate crisis,’ and her desire to motivate those with power to do something about this crisis and at the same time awaken the rest of the world’s population to the fear young people have for the future.
When Greta addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg 16 April 2019 in Cathedral Thinking, she tells them ‘I am sixteen years old. I come from Sweden. And I want you to panic.’
She admits to repeating the words, recognises the criticism but advises, ‘when your house is on fire and you want to keep your house from burning to the ground then that does require some level of panic.’
This speech perhaps the most pertinent and poignant of them all because it came a day after Notre-Dame burned in Paris. Greta recognised that ‘some buildings are more than just buildings. But Notre Dame will be rebuilt.’
Not so our fragile home … Earth…
‘Around the year 2030, 10 years, 259 days and 10 hours away from now, we will be in a position where we will set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will most likely lead to the end of our civilization as we know it. That is, unless in that time permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of our CO2 emissions by at least 50 per cent… these are just calculations, estimations, meaning that the point of no return may occur a bit sooner or later than that…
These predictions are backed up by scientific facts, concluded by all nations through the IPCC.
Nearly every major scientific body around the world unreservedly supports the work and findings of the IPCC.
We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction and the extinction rate is up to 10,000 times faster than what is considered normal, with up to 200 species becoming extinct every single day.
- Erosion of fertile topsoil.
- Deforestation of our great forests,
- Toxic air pollution.
- Loss of insects and wildlife.
- The acidification of our oceans.
These are all disastrous trends being accelerated by a way of life that we, here in our financially fortunate part of the world, see as our right to simply carry on.
But hardly anyone knows about these catastrophes or understands that they are just the first few symptoms of climate ecological breakdown…
… they have not been told by the right people and in the right way.
Our house is falling apart.
Our leaders need to start acting accordingly.’
What Are Our So-Called Leaders Doing To Avert Catastrophe?
Greta challenges them to stop flying around the world, ‘chatting about how the market will solve everything with clever, small solutions to specific, isolated problems.’
Stop trying to buy and build out of the crisis ‘created by buying and building things.’
Why ‘hold three emergency Brexit summits and no emergency summit regarding the breakdown of the climate and ecosystems’?
She can’t understand why countries are still arguing about ‘phasing out coal in fifteen or eleven years’ or ‘celebrating that one single nation, like Ireland, may soon divest from fossil fuels.’
Why do they ‘celebrate that Norway has decided to stop drilling for oil outside the scenic resort of Lofoten Islands, but will continue to drill for oil everywhere else, for decades’?
Greta is aware that scientists have been warning governments for years about global warming and inaction or poor decisions have created this climate catastrophe.
There Is No Polite Way To deliver an Unpopular Message!
The ongoing climate and ecological crisis must make up the headlines in the media – and if school strikes and extinction rebellion demonstrations are what it takes then that is what people must do.
Greta begs world leaders to stop arguing about taxes and squabbles like Brexit and start cooperating to work out what we are going to do to address climate change. And ‘the bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty.’
At the recent ‘school strike for climate change’ in Melbourne, unprecedented numbers – 150,000 plus – stopped the city and young students were joined by thousands of adults: representatives of churches, unions, community groups, and political parties all demanding action because like Greta, they see this is a make or break time for Mother Earth
Unite behind the science!
Greta advises we just ‘Make the best available science the heart of politics and democracy.’
She recognises that politicians fear to be unpopular with voters and that many voters are ignorant or refuse to accept the reality of the climate crisis, so ‘it will take a far-reaching vision.
‘It will take courage. It will take a fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations when we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling’ of this house of ours which is falling apart, ‘In other words, it will take cathedral thinking.’
She finishes her address to the European Parliament with,
‘it’s okay if you refuse to listen to me. I am after all just a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl from Sweden. But you cannot ignore the scientists, or the science, or the millions of schoolchildren who are school-striking for their right to a future.
I beg you, please do not fail in this.’
A Strange World Indeed!
Greta dedicated an award at the Goldene Kamera Film and TV Awards, Berlin 30 March 2019, to people fighting to protect the Hambach Forest and to activists everywhere who fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
She hammers home how strange the world is when the ‘united science tells us that we are about eleven years away from setting off an irreversible chain reaction, way beyond human control, that will probably be the end of civilization as we know it.’
Politicians don’t act because of the cost yet spend trillions subsidizing fossil fuels and ‘a football game or a film gala gets more media attention than the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.’!
Greta begged celebrities to use their influence and voice to raise awareness about the global crisis and suggests those that don’t are worried action ‘would inflict on their right to fly around the world visiting their favourite restaurants, beaches and yoga retreats.’
The well-known proverb advises ‘Good things come in small packages’ – this can definitely apply to Greta and her book. She is unafraid to speak from her heart and face whatever criticism is thrown at her and when invited to speak at forums most of us will never be invited to (especially not the bigheaded bigots like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt), she speaks with courage, clarity and does not falter.
‘You’re Acting Like Spoiled, Irresponsible Children‘ is her address to the European Economic and Social Committee ‘Civil Society for rEUnaissance in Brussels, 21 February 2019.
‘We are school striking because we have done our homework… There is simply not enough time to wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge… We know that most politicians don’t want to talk to us. Good, we don’t want to talk to them either. We want them to talk to the scientists instead. Listen to them, because we are just repeating what they are saying and have been saying for decades.
We want you to follow the Paris Agreement and the IPCC reports… unite behind the science, that is our demand…
… we need new politics, we need new economics where everything is based on a rapidly declining and extremely limited remaining carbon budget…
… we need a whole new way of thinking. The political system you have created is all about competition. You cheat when you can because all that matters is to win, to get power…
… we must stop competing with each other, we need to cooperate and work together and to share the resources of the planet in a fair way.
We need to start living wihtin the planetary boundaries, focus on equity and take a few steps back for the sake of all living species.
We need to protect the biosphere, the air, the oceans, the soil, the forests.
This may sound very naive, but if you have done your homework then you know that we don’t have any other choice…
You can’t just sit around waiting for hope to come – you’re acting like spoiled, irresponsible children… hope is something you have to earn.
In 1988, author Kurt Vonnegut wrote a letter of advice to people living on Earth 100 years in the future. It has been summarised and is doing the rounds of Facebook, probably due to Greta and her supporters reminding us that the time for talking, procrastinating, denial of the seriousness and downright ignorance and stupidity is well and truly over!
We Need More Like Greta
I have been an environmental activist for years and often use my writing abilities to raise awareness that there is no Planet B!! I taught both my daughters to care for the environment and my first books of poetry (Small Talk, 1994 and More Small Talk,1995) were written for children, including poems on subjects I hoped would initiate family discussions about the environment, pollution, littering, caring for wildlife, our oceans…
In the 1990s, the terminology used was the Greenhouse Effect and many businesses were asked to participate in the ‘Greenhouse Challenge’, Australia’s National greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategy. A goodwill pact between Australian industry and the Commonwealth government to reduce gas emissions through voluntary industry action was supported by responsible businesses.
Throughout the world, there were programs to plant trees, save forests and a heightened awareness of the importance of trees, especially rainforests that provide the oxygen which life on Earth needs to survive.
Greta reminds us that not enough was done, governments changed, many haven’t honoured their commitments, some had no intention of making a commitment…
We now have a climate catastrophe looming…
Let’s start listening and adding our voice to Greta’s – she deserves our admiration and support. Read her book and be inspired to act.
Make your vote count!