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Children speak truth to climate inaction

  • 13 March 2019


When I was a young child, I had nightmares about Ronald Reagan. I was terrified he was going to start a nuclear war and destroy us all.

People often laugh when I recount this tale. To many it seems funny, almost cute. Others have described my fears as the product of a childish imagination or parental brainwashing. But the fact is that nuclear war was a genuine possibility. The world was not in safe hands.

Although I was lucky enough to have parents who took my agency seriously, the most overwhelming and depressing aspect of that experience was how little my fears counted. As a child, I had no power and very little voice, despite the fact that the adults in charge were risking our very survival.

Fast forward 35 years, and my own children are faced with a similar predicament in relation to climate change, but now there is a crucial difference: it's not a genuine possibility, it is a reality. We are already changing the climate and creating devastating changes to the planet. The only question that remains is how devastating will these changes become? How many ecosystems will collapse? How many rivers will run dry, species die out, diseases spread, famines ravage, wars rage?

Do you ever lie awake in bed and wonder how this could have happened? How did we let it happen? And why are we not marching in the streets in sheer fury at the vested interests who have sealed our fate? Greta Thunberg has. At the age of eight, she learned about climate change and struggled to understand why serious action was not number one on the global agenda.

'If burning fossil fuels was so bad that it threatened our very existence, how could we just continue like before? Why were there no restrictions? Why wasn't it made illegal? To me, that did not add up. It was too unreal.' By the age of 11, Thunberg says she was so overwhelmed and depressed by what was happening to our planet, and her sense of powerlessness to stop it, that she stopped eating and talking.

Then, last August, at the age of 15, she decided to take action. Greta refused to go to school and, instead, sat herself down in front of the Swedish Parliament to demand action on climate change. She was alone for just one day. This Friday, the School Strike 4 Climate Action will go global for