The shining example of Greta Thunberg

Photo by Markus Spiske/Unsplash

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

As a 15-year-old, Greta Thunberg was this awkward, eccentric girl known to protest all by herself before the steps of the Swedish Parliament calling attention to her government’s lack of action on climate change. 

What a difference a year makes!  

Today, Greta Thunberg leads a global army of teenage environmental activists. She captivated global attention when she spoke before the recent United Nations assembly in New York. World leaders took notice.

“We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all of you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” was her opening sentence as the delegates listened in awe to a 16-year-old telling them why the world is in a state of rapid decline. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you, and if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”

Greta came to the U.S. from England on a “zero emissions” yacht which is more environment-friendly than an airplane. Her sailing to New York drew limitless inspiration as she is now being called the “the climate heroine,” the rebel the world needs. Some are saying she has done more for climate change in one year than many leaders and politicians.

Although diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome, the condition has not stopped her from pursuing her continuous study of the climate and the warming of the planet. She refers to Asperger’s as her “superpower,” the source of her incredible focus.

Climate scientists have praised Greta’s moral outrage over indifferent foreign governments and leaders as “entirely appropriate.” Citing facts they have studied, the scientists have declared, “The world has already lost over half the animals on Planet Earth since 1970.”

Global warming is believed responsible for wildfires that are getting worse and becoming more frequent. Another tragedy is how many children in New Delhi were diagnosed with irreversible lung damage caused by air pollution from automobile emissions, chemicals from factories, and an assortment of toxic gases.

What will be done in this decade will truly matter for the future. One facet that has proven its worth: Science is real. Physics exists. Chemistry matters.

A query that has come around since Greta addressed the UN: How can we look at the younger generation in the eye if we continue to ignore the continuing threat to the environment? The world that lies around us is worth maintaining and keeping.

There is the shining example of Greta Thunberg, so astonishingly focused on the kind of world the older generations will be leaving to their children. She is a child who has given “a face and a voice to the generation who will suffer.”  Her alarmism is a call to action. Protection of the younger generation is the need of the hour.

© The FilAm 2019

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