“How Dare You,” Greta Thunberg Schools the UN

Greta Thunberg’s speech to the UN Climate Action Summit sent shockwaves through the Twittersphere. Her candor, anger, and deep frustration summed up the reason that we’ve gotten to this point in terms of climate change quite simply: the fossil fuel industry has for 30 years–since the science became available–thwarted political action to significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions. While profits were chosen over people but we still have time to alter our course and change our fate. You can read the full transcript of her speech here or watch the video above but this excerpt was particularly poignant:

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!

The Right Reacts: Regardless, the attacks on Greta followed quickly from the likes of Fox News commentators (and even the President in a tweet) who attempted to discredit her character. However, it should be noted that these attacks occur because, as Mat Hope wrote for DeSmog UK, a large subsection of the commentariat driving the abuse of Greta is part of an established network of radical free-marketeer lobby groups — a network that has firm ties to the fossil fuel industry and funders of climate science denial.

Why This Matters: Thunberg is right, she shouldn’t have to be the one addressing a room full of adults that incremental action will not solve the climate crisis. However, the impact that one teenager has been able to have on people around the world is truly remarkable. We should have been able to do this job without Greta, yet it’s evident that the world needs a leader to rally behind. Yet if you want to show her your gratitude, you have to push the issue of climate change in your own community and most importantly vote for candidates that are willing to do the same. 

Go Deeper: Hear a youth perspective on climate action and read Natalia Uro-DeLeon’s essay on why she’s imploring leaders to lead on climate issues. Natalia is a student at Wakefield High School in Arlington, VA.

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