Worried about climate change and how to stop it? There is hope in the future. Probably the most well-known young female activist is Greta Thunberg, a young teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome, who started a climate strike in her native Sweden, and started a global movement. This sensitive child was so upset when she realised the urgency as a child, that she temporarily stopped speaking. And was baffled why governments were not taking the issue seriously. Greta names Rosa Parks as inspiration (the quiet tired seamstress who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus, sparking the civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King Jr).
The problem is that the media has created this false identity of a screaming sulking young girl, who doesn’t have much knowledge. In fact, Greta is on the money with her predictions, and knows way more than most of the politicians she criticises. In summary:
Greta recently called out Boris Johnson’s claim that the UK has reduced climate emissions substantially and is one of the world-beaters on climate change woroldwide. Greta replied ‘I am hoping that we stop referring to the UK as a climate leader, as it’s simply not true’. In fact, UK emissions are 2% of global total, meaning its actions won’t have much of an effect anyway. If the US cuts theirs to 2005 levels by 2030, this will be way more ‘world-beating’ by ratio.
UK transport and home heating emissions are very high and Rachel Kyte at the Paris climate talks said ‘What the UK is doing is like dad dancing – not that they’re evil, but very uncoordinated’. There have been 4000 heat-related deaths in England in the past few years, and yet Britain gives more subsidies to fossil fuel firms, than any other European country. It may now be on a back-burger but the government recently gave the go-ahead to a new coal mine in Cumbria, prompting outrage from environmentalists.
Greta’s International Friends
- Luisa Neubauer is a well-known climate activist in Germany. A geography student whose father died the year the Paris Climate Agreement was signed, she was offered a seat on an energy company’s supervisory board, but refused it, due to controversy over a new coal mine in Australia.
- India Logan-Riley in New Zealand is not just fighting climate change, but ensuring that indigenous people are not affected by the policies set up by government.
- Hilda Flavia Nakabuye in Uganda is organising peaceful campaigns in Kampala, Africa’s 2nd most polluted city. Age just 12, she watched her grandmother’s vegetable gardens dry up and her grandfather’s livestock die, when a severe drought hit.
- Shalvi Sakshi is campaigning to stop climate change, as she lives in Fiji, one of the world’s most low-lying places so (like the Maldives) the most at risk from rising sea levels.
- Isra Hirsi is a young black teen in the US, who is one of the top voices in North America, combining both causes – saving the planet and Black Lives Matter.
- A group of friends in Canada are suing the government, for not protecting them against climate change (the Prime Minister promised he would stop the annual baby seal cull, but still hasn’t, well into his second term). A friend of Greta (who stayed with her, while visiting Canada), Sadie is spurred on by her father, an emergency doctor/eco activist in Calgary. Indian teen Ridhima Pandey is also suing her government over climate change.
England’s Answer to Greta Thunberg
Bella Lack has been called ‘the British Greta Thunberg’, although of course she is an inspirational young woman in her own right. This eloquent, intelligent and compassionate lady is hope for the future. Already enchanted by ‘diligent ants and lethargic snails’ in her garden as a child, by 11 she was applying to become a Youth Ambassador for the Born Free Foundation, to help the great apes.
Now an Animal Rights Climate Leader, Bella was behind the successful campaign to ban the use of wild animals in UK circuses, following a petition she began age 16. She is also a board director of Reserva, the first youth-funded nature conserve in the world. And she is also a member of Ivory Alliance, working to stop the illegal wildlife trade. Her 5 tips for the rest of us to help are:
- Create governments that transform (and follow the French, in knowing that we are the power, not politicians). Join movements and write to your MPs!
- Let nature restore itself, from rewilding your own gardens, to joining local volunteer movements. See toxic plants/mulches to avoid near pet friends.
- Change the agricultural system, through what you eat. Stay informed and make small changes, to stop ‘carnivorous habits ravaging our climate, biodiversity, oceans and health’.
- Change your consumerist habits. Forget about ‘economic growth’ and just buy less and support conscious brands.
- Use your imagination to create positive change rather than doom-and-gloom climate stories. ‘Nowhere near as effective as giving people something incredible to strive for’.