Greta Thunberg and Climate Change – What Do We Truly Know?

Stop admiring the climate movement and start acting: We have all heard about Greta Thunberg – but how much do we truly know?

The teenage environmentalist and activist lives a low-carbon life in order to reduce her carbon footprint. Via social media, she urges political reform from those in power.

Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg, teen climate activist, recently chose to decline the Nordic Council with their environmental award. Photograph: Canadian Press/Rex/Shutterstock

She appreciated but ultimately rejected her most recent decoration, ‘the Nordic Council’s environmental award’. Although she acknowledged the award as a ‘huge honour,’ she proclaimed that “the climate movement does not need any more awards.”

Instead, she advocates in a recent Instagram post, “what we need is for our politicians and the people in power to start to listen to the current, best available science.”

It’s extremely fascinating and yet overwhelmingly humbling to see Greta’s journey from her first UN speech at fifteen-years-old to crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat to attend a UN summit on zero emissions. Her stance was stark against the climate crisis as she refused to fly due to the carbon emissions of planes. Today, she is still campaigning tirelessly for the same environmental plea she had in 2018; arguably she has done more in that time than most leaders in power.

At her first speech at the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference she declared, “We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.” Alternatively, she urged that real difference and real change will come from the unification of people collectively:

“Imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to…The real power belongs to the people.”

Greta Thunberg

She says that “the Paris agreement, which all of the Nordic countries have signed, is based on the aspect of equity, which means that richer countries must lead the way.” The current president of one of the leading world countries has recently pulled out of the Paris climate agreement. This will make the United States the only country to not participate in the pact which was made to help prevent rising global temperatures. Greta summarises how, “Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for luxuries of the few.” This will become a reality. 

As global temperatures are set to rise 3C, this will drive millions of people into poverty, forcing further extinction of global wildlife and continuing to increase and worsen extreme weather changes. Yet, Donald Trump proclaimed how “The Paris accord will undermine economy,” which will put the United States “at a permanent disadvantage.”

“Our civilisation is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people who continue making enormous amounts of money.”

– Greta Thunberg, 2018 UN Climate Change Conference
Donald Trump climate change
Donald Trump’s administration has adamantly denied climate change and the climate crisis. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The White House released a statement last year demonstrating that, The past five years were the warmest ever recorded.” And, there are no signs of it slowing down. The Economist recently pointed out how deforestation has soared to record levels in the Amazon and since January the area of rainforest that has disappeared is equivalent to 2 Manhattans per week. Temperatures in the Arctic are warming twice as fast as the global average. Scientists say with current trends it could be ice-free by the summer of 2040.

These are not illusions, these are facts.

Earlier this year media coverage of the Amazon rainforest on fire caused mass uproar. It burned for months, unreported, until eventually noticed through satellite image. The Brazilian far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro falsely denied that the Amazon was on fire, claiming “It is a fallacy to say that the Amazon is a heritage of humankind,” despite the fact that more than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest, one hectare (2.47 acres) of the rainforest can contain more than 750 types of tree and 1,500 types of plant, and despite the fact more than 80% of the world’s food has its origins in the Amazon rainforest with 25% of all western pharmaceuticals coming from rainforest based ingredients.

Amazon fires started intentionally by farmers and loggers clearing land for crops and and grazing. Devastating the species-rich habitats. Photograph: reddit / by Stock Connection/Shutterstock

Yet, no one is more adamant in the power of individual change than Greta Thunberg.

In her book ‘No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference’, her key philosophophy is that individual difference will affect the collective survival of the world.

Her refusal of her award concluded in the following statement to the Nordic Council:

“Until you start to act in accordance with what the science says is needed to limit the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees or even 2 degrees I choose not to accept the environmental award nor the prize money of 500,000 Swedish konor.”

Greta Thunberg

Essentially, the most power can come from the people who are not in power.

What will you do to make a difference?

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