Greta Thunberg: One small voice – El Dorado News-Times
I know it seems that in a world where literally billions of people are shouting, one small voice can’t make a difference… But it can.
Over the past couple of years, I have listened and watched as that small voice made a difference in our perception of global warming. That voice is that of Greta Thunberg, who is 18 now, and a real force in making us aware of the dangers of climate change due to global warming.
When Greta was barely 15, she decided to do what she could to reduce global warming. She hand-painted a small sign, and stood in front of the Swedish Parliament Building imploring the parliament to act on global warming. It said School Strike for Climate. She stood there each day for three weeks.
In a few days, she was joined by a few other students, and as the numbers grew, kids in other towns in the area joined in. A few weeks passed, and as the internet sent her message around the world, a worldwide student protest begin to happen. It was nothing like anyone had ever seen. Soon hundreds of thousands from dozens of countries began to demonstrate, and as the number grew, her appearance in European cities was met with hordes of reporters, as if she were a Hollywood celebrity.
She had started a grassroots movement, which defied all the precepts of advertising, except one, and that one had touched a worldwide nerve, which was global warming.
A year later, the movement was so powerful that Time Magazine made Greta the Person of the Year. She was the youngest person ever to make the cover of Time Magazine, and she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for three consecutive years.
What is even more remarkable is that Greta, a young, rather plain, demure young woman, turned out to be not only a determined proponent of reducing global warming, but a person knowledgeable beyond her years. It is significant that she was able to, by just believing in a cause, accomplish so much. She is a small, soft-spoken person, who is not a gorgeous overly made up rock star, but a quiet, young woman who has garnered acclaim from people around the world. Her message is simple and to the point. Her short five word piece, in a contest to use five words to describe the state of our planet, won the award with, “Our House is on Fire.” She donated the award money to charity.
She not only speaks about global warming, she lives it, to the point that when she traveled to North America, she traveled by sailing to keep from leaving a carbon footprint, and she returned to Europe the same way.
While in Canada she participated in climate protests in several cities including Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver. On the September 20 and 27, 2019, these climate protests had a worldwide participation by over four million people, and just in Montreal, several hundred thousand took part in the protest descried as the largest in the city’s history. The Mayor presented her with the Freedom of the City award, and the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in attendance.
However, her most notable appearance was her address before the United Nations Climate Action Summit. It was held in New York City, and Greta was part of a series of speakers to speak on global warming. I’m sure the notables in attendance expected the small, soft-spoken girl to almost whisper a plea to control global warming. However, her emotional speech sent the assembly almost into shock. Standing before a standing room only crowd in a large auditorium she paused and then, steely eyed and holding back tears, gave the most significant speech of the entire meeting. Here are some of her words:
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” Greta Thunberg, New York, September 23, 2019.
How dare you! She said with such force and trembling emotion that the assembly was visibly moved, and the next day papers around the world blared those headlines.
However, she has picked up numerous critics from those who deny global warming because she is so direct in her condemnation of inaction. She has even called the Paris Climate Agreement lacking, as well as the efforts by the European Union as insufficient.
Russian President Putin called her an immature young woman, who has only a limited understanding of her subject matter, and American President Donald Trump mocked her saying she has an “anger management problem.” Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, after Greta commented that Indians were dying trying to save the Amazon rain forest, called her a “Brat.” And of course, she has been strongly criticized by OPEC, the oil cartel.
Greta responded in a Time Person of the Year interview: “It’s quite hilarious when the only thing people can do is mock you or talk about your appearance or personality, as it means they have no argument or nothing else to say.”
After her appearances in North America, Greta accepted an invitation to return to Europe by sailing to keep from leaving a carbon footprint. Her departing words to us were: “My message to the Americans is the same as to everyone; that is to unite behind the science and to act on the science.”
Many of her awards were presented along with substantial prize money, but outside of expense money, she has donated the funds to various charities through her foundation. She has received such a list of rewards and commendation that they would take up this entire column to list them.
Greta is a wonderful example of how dedication by one individual can make a difference. She has taken a stand against the continuing heating of our planet, and from her involvement, literally millions of not only students, but millions of other caring individuals, are joining with her to demand that our elected leaders address the global warming of our planet.
After being named Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year, the award was accepted by Jane Fonda, who quoted Greta: “If a Swedish teenage science nerd, who has Shopstop, refuses to fly, and has never worn makeup or been to a hairdresser can be chosen as Woman of the Year by one of the biggest fashion magazines in the world, then I think almost nothing is impossible.”
Richard Mason is a registered professional geologist, downtown developer, former chairman of the Department of Environmental Quality Board of Commissioners, past president of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, and syndicated columnist. Email [email protected]