|In the UN Climate Conference this year, Greta Thunberg, an environmental activist in her teens said her resentment to the countries that are responding slowly in their climate change-related actions thus making her famous "How Dare You" speech / Photo by: European Parliament via Flickr|
On September 23, 2019, the UN Climate Action Summit attended by heads of government from politics and business all over the world was set to make commitments to discard fossil fuels and decelerate the rise in global temperatures. It was opened by a grief-stricken but furious Greta Thunberg, a teenage environmental activist, who raged, “People are suffering, people are dying, and the entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
Instigated by the scientists’ calculations from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the world’s carbon budget for a 1.5 degree Celsius future will be depleted within 8.5 years if present trends persist. Thunberg said, “How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business as usual!” She believed that none of the speeches from world leaders on that eventful day would deal with the daunting statistics. Thunberg declared that world leaders are “still not mature enough to tell it like it is.” She further warned, “You are betraying us…. If you choose to fail us, then I say, ‘We will never forgive you.’”
A Quick Look from Trump
Simultaneous to the live forecast of Thunberg's speech, a video feed showed Donald Trump together with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo arriving at the UN, not for the Climate Action Summit but for a conference on religious freedom. He did take a peek at the Summit for 15 minutes, amusing the participating world leaders. Michael Bloomberg, the UN special envoy for climate action, got laughs and applause for his suggestion to the president that the summit’s discussions will hopefully be useful in formulating the US climate policy.
In an interview with Jaime Henn, co-founder and strategic communications director of environmental NGO 350.org, Henn said that Trump might have benefitted from his time at the summit, short as it was.
Thunberg, for her part, challenged Trump and all leaders who remain passive at the critical moment in human history to not escape. Trump has often expressed his skepticism on climate science and he has been rolling back environmental regulations in the United States.
|Thunberg, for her part, challenged President Donald Trump and all leaders who remain passive at the critical moment in human history to not escape / Photo by: Gage Skidmore via Flickr|
Response to Thunberg
In response to Thunberg's criticism of the lukewarm attitude of the world leaders on climate change, Trump sarcastically remarked that the teenager seems like a very happy young girl who looks forward to a wonderful and bright future.
Michael Knowles, the conservative political commentator, attacked Thunberg on Fox News saying that the climate hysteria movement is not about science because it is not led by scientists but rather by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child exploited by the international left. It is to be noted that Thunberg has Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder that makes social interaction difficult. Although a spokesperson from Fox apologized, Knowles took to social media and tweeted that living with a mental disorder is not shameful but exploiting a child with a mental disorder to advance political agenda is.
Another vocal Trump supporter, Laura Ingraham, called Thunberg a young climate activist who punishes adults who do not adopt their positions on climate change. She likened it to the 1984 “Children of the Corn” movie where children are forced to kill adults in a Nebraskan town. She mockingly said that a sequel entitled “Children of the Climate” might be in the offing.
Dinesh D’Souza, another conservative commentator equated Thunberg to the children used in Nazi propaganda while Sebastian Gorka, a former White House aide, rebuffed the teenager as an “autistic child.”
On the other hand, Pope Francis addressed the summit through a video message: “While the situation is not good and the planet is suffering, the window of opportunity is still open. We are still on time. Let us not let it close.”
The Chinese community has shown ambivalence towards Thunberg’s speech. Some say she is just talking the talk without much knowledge on climate change and thus cannot propose solutions to deal with environmental problems. However, Zhang Boju, chief secretary of Beijing-based environmental advocacy group Friends of Nature, said that Thunberg expressed a strong message of concern and anxiety.
Thunberg is a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize and has won the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel, for inspiring and magnifying political demands for critical climate measures.
Thunberg has been criticized as a pawn of the left, a child not qualified to speak. She may be young and be dismissed as a child with a mental disorder, but she is the embodiment of courage worth emulating. Her rage is justified. Our Planet Earth needs to be saved, together with its people.
Let it be understood that someone who has Asperger's syndrome is just as smart as others. Thunberg is known to have advanced spatial reasoning skills, just like other teens.
|Thunberg is a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize and has won the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel, for inspiring and magnifying political demands for critical climate measures / Photo by: ProtoplasmaKid via Wikimedia Commons|