Greta Thunberg may be an unlikely hero, but to the many concerned with the issue of climate change, she has quickly risen to messianic status. As a spokesperson for an issue as big as this; one which has dominated headlines, research papers and opinion column inches for 30-odd years, Thunberg is a divisive character.
But one look at this speech, delivered to the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, and it’s plain to see just why she has been able to unite young and old, from all over the world, to get behind her cause.
The whole speech.
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) September 23, 2019
“This is all wrong,” opined the 16-year old Swede. “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.
“If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you,” she continued.
The hashtag “#HowDareYou” has since been trending on microblogging site Twitter.
Thunberg, who arrived in New York on a zero-emissions yacht which took two weeks to cross the ocean from her Scandinavian home, has been a public figure known for her powerful words, and lack of interest in giving politicians and people in positions of power any wiggle room when it comes to climate science denial. She has been both propped up by her supporters and heavily criticised by her detractors, but has undeniably kicked this important discussion into overdrive.
Her fame was founded a little over a year ago, when she started a small but effective strike from school, to raise awareness as she picketed outside Swedish parliament calling for climate action. Her impeccable delivery in public speaking has propelled her to a status usually reserved for teen idols who sing pop, or star in blockbuster films.
The effects of man-made climate change have been politicised, disputed and hotly debated for decades, but the consensus of the scientific community is staunchly in favour of one hypothesis: the world is getting hotter at an alarming rate, and human activities are to blame.
To put it in the immortal words of Nelly: It’s getting hot in hurrr.
This also means that we as a species have the power to pump the proverbial brakes on greenhouse gas emissions, and begin to make important changes across our many and varied industries, globally, to ensure a better chance of keeping the rising global temperature below the crucial 1.5 degrees Celsius before the end of the century.
Thunberg also used the platform to announce a class-action lawsuit against the UN, with other youth leaders at the summit, which was briefly attended by US President Donald Trump, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.