The Story Hall
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The Story Hall

When a 16-Year-Old Girl Has to Speak in the United Nations Summit

Greta Thunberg, a climate activist from Sweden

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I was simply switching between the TV channels when I stumbled upon a young girl speaking ferociously. Her name was Greta Thunberg, and she was talking passionately on climate change. She seemed to borderline — scold world leaders. Normally, I get sad when I read about climate change statistics or listen to an activist, but her stern mannerism caught my attention. I think it comes from a place of thought that I am not positioned enough to do something about it. Usually, I get sad, sigh, and move on. But as I listened to her speech, I was left with some sort of aftermath.

Following are a few of her quotes from the speech:

You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

This hit me hard. Not only it was a reflection of the helplessness of the youth, but also a presentation of a darkened future. Not just kids of this generation would say this, but our kids, and their kids — if they ever take birth.

“There’s a big dissonance between every leader saying to Greta ‘we hear you’ and the commitments they are putting on to the table,” said Isabel Cavelier, senior advisor at the Mission 2020 climate group. “China said nothing new, India mentioned commitments made in the past, the US, Canada, and Australia aren’t here. We are seeing governments showing up empty-handed. There’s a feeling that the big emitters are holding things back.”

Scientists have coined that we have only a little over a decade to reach a point where we would inflict irreversible damage to the earth and its resources. Yet I don’t see any hard steps being taken in this direction. We use petrol and diesel. We have befriended plastic. Plastic has become man’s most loyal friend — the dogs are howling.

The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.

I can’t help but think about unborn babies. They have not caused this, but the consequences of our actions and that of our ancestors will have the most catastrophic impact on them. The city I live in faces mass levels of pollution with the onset of winters. We live oblivious to the fact that once, such carelessness took lives of 12000 Londoners.

My parents discuss how water was abundant in their times, money was not a problem and needs were easily fulfilled.

We talk about per capita incomes and GDP’s but where will we go when we don’t have clean air to breathe in?

According to a report, 3 million people are projected to live in land-short countries by 2025. It also projected that nearly 60000 plant species could be lost by 2025.

The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius], and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature projects loss of 67% endangered species and 99.9% loss of critically endangered species. It indicates we would be nearly unable to save the endangered species. The earth is very likely entering the sixth extinction era. Scientists from Aarhus University in Denmark calculated that it will take 3 million years for the earth to recover from the animal extinction of the current rate.

Yet the question remains why we need to change when we hear the word extinction? Why we couldn’t be conscious from the beginning? Why only catastrophe and debacle catches our attention. I know a few people who still are unaware of the Cape Town water crisis. These people can argue lack of their awareness is the cause for their immobility. But, can we trust human beings enough to take action once they become aware? How human beings have become the flag bearer of the earth? Who gave us the mantle to decide on to future of earth?

Yet this young girl is facing a backlash. For this essay, I had to hear her speech many times, and as I was scrolling down the comments, I got disgusted. People are more concerned about her motives rather than our climate.

This was their takeaway.

The future indeed seems bleak.

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