Photograph by Anders Hellberg, via The New Yorker
Greta Thunberg, climate change activist extraordinaire, has once again been making headlines all over the world, this time with her powerful speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. As well she should! Her warning is one that needs to be heard not only by the world’s ultra-wealthy and powerful, but by everyone. As she so poignantly says:
“We all have a choice. We can create transformational action that will safeguard the living conditions for future generations. Or we can continue with our business as usual and fail. That is up to you and me.”Greta Thunberg, World Economic Forum 2019
Thunberg burst onto the world stage in 2018, after starting the first school climate strike outside Sweden’s Parliament in Stockholm. Since then, her action and speeches (most notably at TEDxStockholm and the UN Climate Change Conference) have inspired further activism across the globe, with tens of thousands of students on almost every continent walking out from school, drawing attention to the uncomfortable truth that there is no point studying for a future that doesn’t exist.
“According to the IPCC, we are less than 12 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. In that time, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society need to have taken place, including a reduction of our CO2 emissions by at least 50%.”Greta Thunberg, World Economic Forum 2019
It is easy, in the face of statistics like this, to feel overwhelmed and hopeless about what one can, as an individual, do to prevent this from becoming a reality. And yet, at just 16, without economic capital, the right to vote, or any form of power comparable to that wielded by the Davos attendees, Thunberg and her voice are a shining example of how individual action can explode into momentous, global change. In a room filled with some of the richest, most powerful people in the world, the climate activist with Asperger’s was one of the few to hold themselves truly accountable, and was unapologetic about asking others to do the same.
“The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform, the bigger your responsibility. Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”Greta Thunberg, World Economic Forum 2019
As a feminist, nothing brings me more joy than seeing a woman speaking up for what she believes in. When it’s from a platform the size of the one Thunberg has built, on a topic as salient as climate change: even better. May we all listen and learn.
Watch the full speech below:
You can also stay up to date with Thunberg’s exploits on Twitter.