Thunberg, 16, from Sweden, first staged a “School Strike for Climate” in front of the Swedish Parliament alone in August last year which has since inspired an international movement. Since that moment the world recognises Greta as the face of climate change that we have all become accustomed to, yet those who oppose her believe she is being “weaponised” by political elites, even meeting world leaders such as Barack Obama.
Her emotive speech at the UN took the world by storm, saying: ‘How dare you – you have stolen my dreams and my childhood’, demonstrating the issues at hand for her generation.
Greta is the medium between science and activism simply she is a spokesperson on a global level. Every movement needs a face and Greta is a “weapon” that has instead become a battering ram online.
She has inadvertently caused “eco-anxiety”, which Prince Harry also allegedly suffers from. Eco–anxiety is anxiety about ecological disasters and threats to the natural environment such as pollution and climate change.
Greta’s explosion on the scene has come at a time when the future is uncertain. In a society where being young comes with the burden of lack of capital, a changing environment and divisive politics. Greta epitomises this in her call to action. One persons eco-anxiety, is anothers awakening.
Greta Thunberg threatens the patriarchal order of the day
Greta threatens two climates, the environmental climate and the climate between men and women. Many men in particular have spoken out against Greta, recently Jeremy Clarkson has called her a “spoilt brat.”
Clarkson in his weekly column for the Sun said: “Pause for a moment to consider how soundly you sleep at night, knowing that adults are building and servicing and flying Sweden’s fighter planes to keep you safe. We gave you mobile phones and laptops and the internet. We created the social media you use every day and we run the banks that pay for it all.”
In the eyes of Clarkson, Greta is nothing more than a “spoilt brat”, who should be thankful for the inventions of adults. Wasn’t Clarkson the one who punched a Top Gear producer when there wasn’t any hot food? Sounds familiar to white people who proclaim black people who should be grateful for abolishing slavery, letting us assimilating into society and giving us the illusion of equality.
It appears many men are threatened by Greta’s defiance and her refusal to step down, in the face of her virulent criticism. Clarkson even attempts to evoke rights as a father figure, saying ‘and no, you can’t go out in a skirt that short’. It’s interesting how a man that has made his fortune from the automobile industry and old media seems to have to resort to mocking a 16 year old girl for her age, telling her that to make change she should quietly go back to science class. If he was acting out of true fatherly concern, he would be supportive of her, working passionately for something she believed in, rather than react with ridicule and condescension. Especially when your own daughter comes out to put you in your place.
Despite being by far the newspaper with the largest circulation in the UK, Sun readership has more than halved in less than a decade, according to the Audit Bureua of Circulations. From it’s mid 90’s daily peak of 4.7 million copies sold, it now stands at an average of 1.2 million per issue as of August 2019. Clarkson’s comments smack of desperation to cling to relevancy. With his fortunes, he is no friend to the average Sun reader. They will certainly not be in the same metaphorical or literal boat when the effects of climate change are more widely felt. When children refuse to listen to adults they are reminded adults know best. Clearly the adults, in this case, don’t. Greta is some men’s worst fear, young, outspoken, independent and not sexualised.
Young people are the revolution
Young people are changing the world, and have become a part of the growing political engine. They are revolting, rebuking the capitalist order of the day. Activists do not get the recognition they deserve unless they are in the public spotlight and pushed by agendas behind closed doors. Chastising Greta for speaking on a public stage is trotting out the age old trope of shutting down female voices, for being too bossy, too young, too shrill. But to breathe new life into a debate that was not getting the recognition it deserved, how else was it supposed to happen? In the age old words of Heiroglyphs, “don’t hate the player hate the game”. Other activists deserve the publicity, and Greta should work alongside them.
One example is Autumn Peltier, 15.
At 8 years old Autumn Peltier, attended a ceremony at a reservation where she saw a sign warning that the water was toxic, according to the CBC.Growing up on a freshwater island in Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory in Canada, Peltier said she had never experienced toxic water. The sign sat long in her memory.
At the age of 14, Peltier fights for water conservation and indigenous water rights. Inspired by her great aunt, Josephine Mandamin, an indigenous activist who walked the shores of all five Great Lakes to raise awareness for water conservation.
At 12, Peltier confronted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, telling him she was unhappy with his policies on controversial pipeline projects. Trudeau promised her he would protect the water. Since 2015, 87 long-term water advisories have been lifted; 56 water advisories remain in Canada. Sitting quietly in science class doesn’t really stack up now does it?
In 2018 , Peltier, like Greta spoke at the UN about the importance of water conservation and water access, as in her culture water plays a sacred role.”Many people don’t think water is alive or has a spirit. My people believe this to be true. … We believe our water is sacred because we are born of water.”
More light needs to be shone on the other activists who are doing just as good work. There is an evident whitewashing of the face of environmental change, and Peltier deserves admiration for her work.
My fear for Greta is that she will end up burning herself out from all the travelling and the emotional labour of being so committed to her cause. She needs to be protected in the media, with the right psychologist, however, it does not take away from her message. Those criticising her and attempting to invalidate her arguments are clutching at plastic straws, trying to use it as renewable energy to mount a character assassination of a valid scientific message.
Greta warms hearts for some as an evidence of the youth who care passionately, adamantly and fervently for the environment. Some hearts otherwise remain cold, but as time shows even those will defrost.