Greta Thunberg and Climate Change
With economies showing reluctance to respond to the urgency of climate change, people are stepping out to hold their government accountable for their complacency. Discussing the blame, human intervention and industrial revolution which exploited fossil fuels to depletion and increased per capita consumption are all culprits and at the forefront of the movement is Sweden’s Greta Thunberg who caught media attention in August 2018, when at age 15, she started spending her working school-days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger action on climate change. Her movement resonated with students around the world and on March 15, 2019, a ‘global strike’ gathered more than 1 million protesters, including students, parents and activists. In India, over 14,000 people signed up for 26 events across the country as part of the strikes in September.
Although the 17-year old activist has gained international recognition for her activism and was invited to Global Climate Summit in 2019 where she made her famous ‘How Dare You’ speech, she has also come under the radar of powerful groups dismissing her as ‘young’ and ‘naive’ while many have gone as far as to ridicule her movement and bully the teenager. Among her most vocal critics is Donald Trump who in December 2019 tweeted “Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend!” followed by another comment “Chill Greta, Chill!” after Thunberg was named Time’s person of the year, an honour Trump reportedly wanted. Russian President Putin took a more civilized route and called her ‘ill-informed’, even as climate scientists are in agreement with the momentum of her activism. While she continues being dismissed by world leaders despite overwhelming evidence in her support, the criticism has also taken sexist undertones with recently a lewd sticker of the activist being sexually assaulted was made by a local oil company in Canada.
These occurrences reflect the intentions behind token environmentalism that giant corporations advocate. It is incumbent upon the political executive around the world to be more proactive with respect to climate change, especially after major perpetrators of environmental damage have clearly been identified and there has been massive uproar against them and it begins with not being held hostage under big money’s corporate interest. The next generation is extremely environmentally sensitive and will eventually have to force the political parties’ hand, although the need of the hour is sustainable, development-focused policies coming from the current political leaders and not just from the students.