Greta Thunberg is a force of nature.
This 16-year-old Swede has, in one year, single-handedly captured the attention of the world with her simple message: “we are in a climate crisis, it’s time to act.”
Last August 20th, Thunberg famously skipped school to sit in front of Swedish Parliament, armed with a long list of scientific data about how greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly impacting our climate.
Those now riding the coattails of this young phenom are adding their agenda to her platform. Many are radical — see the suggestion of reparations from the UK as an example.
But let’s focus, for now, on the impressive impact that a young person can have on the global community.
One year ago, Greta Thunberg was alone. Even her parents disagreed with her school strike idea. They told her that if she was going to do this, it would be without their help.
Last Friday, the teenager who travelled from Europe to North America on a sailboat to walk the walk, as it were, found herself anything but alone — millions stood with her.
September 20 was the kickoff of the global “Climate Strike” in the name of putting pressure on world leaders to take more urgent action on climate change. Even a climate change denier could not discount the numbers taking to streets in all four corners of the globe.
Here in BC, there was some confusion about low turnout last week. The real event is this coming Friday, to coincide with the arrival of Thunberg in Montreal, where she will be given the key to the city.
This Friday a reported 860 cities worldwide will hold events to punctuate the Climate Strike Week. Vancouver’s is at City Hall from 1 to 4pm — take transit.
Youth here are so motivated to attend there are official steps being taken to allow them to leave their respective schools. Monday The Vancouver School Board unanimously voted to allow students be signed out of afternoon classes. A few businesses, like MEC and LUSH, are also making concessions, closing during the event so that employees have the opportunity to partake.
If the Vancouver event is anything like those seen in major cities around the world last Friday, expect commuting in and around City Hall to be a bit of a challenge. Plan accordingly.
If the idea makes you angry, consider the words of this 16 year old kid as she spoke at the UN on Monday:
“You’re failing us, but young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.” — Greta Thunberg.
Middle ground can only be found by listening to all voices.
There are concerns about targets put forward by activists like Thunberg, big concerns. At the United Nations General Assembly she made a statement about how older generations are only concerned with money. This, obviously, is an overstatement; no matter how hard you wish, the global economy cannot halt on a dime.
Our Middle is somewhere in between.
It took generations for us to become deeply entrenched in our addiction to what’s hurting our planet. If nothing else, can we agree that the heavy lifting by global powers that be needs to increase the urgency?
Hearing the simple message to “save our planet” is important. It’s up to all of us to work in tandem.
Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.
- Last week, Jody was also listening to the kids - the ones saying the "change filter" light on drinking fountains has been blinking on at Vancouver schools since June.
- Jock Finlayson on the formidable technical and economic obstacles to replacing fossil fuels, which no amount of protests can change or wish away.
- Terry Etam wrote (politely!) to Victoria City Council about their ambitions to sue energy companies over climate change.