In August 2018, a 15 year old girl by the name of Greta Thunberg, started a solo school strike outside the Swedish Parliament to protest at the lack of progress to combat climate change.
It was a significant moment.
In a very short space of time word about her protest spread throughout the world. School children across the planet decided to join Thunberg environmental revolution by stepping out of school ever Friday to make the point that enough in enough when it comes to the planet’s slow progress in turning the tide of, what is clearly an ecological disaster.
Initially over 100,000 children, in more than 270 cities worldwide, began to protest every single week support Thunberg’s movement.
Her revolution, which is now known as ‘Fridays for Future’, has grown to the point where around 1.4 million students.
She has a raw honesty that is from the heart
Thunberg has become an environmental superstar. Who would have thought someone could become so well known for avoiding school every Friday. Personally, I would have chosen Monday. I hated school on Mondays!
Joking aside, I think Thunberg is brilliant. Truly brilliant.
Many people complain and protest and often go unheard. She is making a massive difference.
The main reason why she has captured the world’s attention is because she is young. She was born on 3rd January 2003 and is now 16 years old. Greta is eloquent, passionate and most importantly she is incredibly driven.
Every time I hear her speak I love how direct she is. I doubt she has been media trained like so many of the boring politicians and CEO’s in power today, at least I hope she hasn’t.
The beauty of being so young is that you speak your mind from a selfless place. She has a raw honesty that is from the heart.
Speaking to the UN
By the 4th of December 2018, just 4 months since her first solo Friday protest, she was giving a generational changing speech at the UN Climate Change COP24 Conference in Poland.
It was to rival and compliment the amazing speech given by Sir David Attenborough.
Who would have thought a 15 year old girl could be at the same inspirational level as Attenborough!
She has met with world leaders who are desperate for a photo opportunity with her to show how ‘green’ they are.
They aren’t green enough.
She is clearly becoming increasing frustrated by the ‘hot air’ from those in power contributing to global warming.
As recently as May 2019, following a UN report confirming that humans continue to have “a devastating impact on the natural world” Thunberg said “the message is clearly not getting through” and she reiterated her call for governments to “unite behind the science” to bring a swift end to the emission of greenhouse gasses and the destruction of ecosystems around the world.
What about the economics?
Governments and big business always refer to the ‘economic’ argument.
That change will take time as we need to find an ‘economically viable’ way to combat climate change.
Huge oil corporations accuse green campaigners of misleading people with unscientific arguments. Thunberg’s argument is that immediate pollution issues need to be tackled before all economic questions can be fully answered.
The global economy, so massively dependent on the sale of fossil fuels simply cannot get its head around this.
Thunberg has been accused of being naive and not understanding global economic issues.
I think this is outrageous.
No time to waste
I love the fact she states we cannot wait to do something based on an economic argument.
Why? Because we all know what needs to be done to turn around global warming and are we really going to put a price on what it’s going to cost to save the planet and our very own existence?
Carrying on as we are is always going to be the cheaper option in the short term. For many years humankind has been on a race to the bottom constantly going for the cheapest option.
For most of my childhood I remember seeing ‘Made in China’ and ‘Made in Taiwan’ on most products in our house because we wanted more and more stuff that was cheap, cheap, cheap!
We didn’t care how it was made, who made it and how many miles it has travelled to get to us. We just wanted it!
A long-term, high-quality, green, sustainable, global strategy is always going to cost us more to begin with than a short-term, low-quality, highly-polluting global strategy.
But, this highly polluting strategy is completely unsustainable. It is literally killing the planet, which in turn, will kill us.
We need to invest to be green. It will cost us more, but so what.
It may mean that we will at last value things more and we will consume less.
Consume less? I can hear big business panicking at the thought!
But, we do need to design, make, produce and use things very differently. We must live differently.
Attacking out of fear
And please, don’t attack the messenger.
Big business is attacking Thunberg out of fear. Big business is running scared, scared of losing their jobs and their share prices.
But, it is time for big business to think differently. They have an amazing opportunity to do the right thing and transform their companies into the greenest corporations on the planet.
It will put them ahead of the game because their companies will become attractive to those born into the ecological age.
Companies need to stop thinking of themselves. Greta is simply trying to put the ecological well-being of the planet before herself.
We should all, individuals, small business and big business, be taking a green leaf out of her recycled book.
A huge compliment
Mohammed Barkindo, the Secretary General of OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) said just this month that Greta’s campaign may be the “greatest threat” to the fossil fuel industry.
Thunberg’s tweeted reply “Thank you! Our biggest compliment yet!”
No one is too big or too small to make a difference.
George Clarke is an architect, writer, lecturer and TV presenter.