For Greta

I want to feel safe.

When I walk home late at night.

When I sit on the subway.

When I sleep at night.

But I don’t feel safe.

How am I supposed to feel safe when I know that we are facing the most acute crisis in the history of mankind? When I know that if we don’t act now, everything will soon be too late?

The first time I heard about global warming, I thought: that can’t be right, no way there is something serious enough to threaten our very existence.

Because otherwise, we would not be talking about anything else. As soon as you turn on the TV, everything would be about this issue. Headlines, radio, newspapers. You would never read or hear about anything else.

As if a world war was raging.

But in fact, no one was talking…

And if they did, it was never in line with the scientists’ statements. The other day I watched a debate between party leaders on TV and saw how they were allowed to stand there and lie. They said it made no sense to make an effort to curb Sweden’s emissions, since we were such a “role model”. That we should focus on “helping” other countries to cut their emissions.

Sweden is not a role model. The people of Sweden yearly emits 11 tonnes of CO2 per capita. We’re on eighth place in the world according to WWF.

We’re the ones who need help.

I don’t understand how they can be allowed to lie like that on TV.

Maybe many grown-ups think the issue of climate change is difficult to understand? Maybe that’s why, whenever there’s a television program about the climate, it turns into children’s television? I grasped the issue of climate change when I was 12 and decided to never fly again, nor eat meat.

The climate crisis is the defining issue of our time. Yet everyone believes that we can solve the crisis without effort, without sacrifice.

“Think positive!” everybody says.

As if the passengers on Titanic, after the collision with the ice berg, would have sat down to talk about what stories the survivors could tell and how famous they would be. Or the number of jobs that would be created in the effort to help the survivors.

However, the ship would have sunk anyway, no matter their actions. We can, on the other hand, stop the collision. We know the ice berg is there. We even know its exact coordinates. But we’re not slowing down, nor are we changing course. And so we praise ourselves, perhaps, for having managed to unload some weight. While increasing the speed.

Will we slow down in time?

If I live to be 100 I will be alive in the year 2103.

When you think about “the future” today, you don’t think beyond the year 2050. By then I will, in the best case, not even have lived half my life. What happens next?

The year 2078 I will celebrate my 75th anniversary. If I have children and grandchildren they may want to celebrate that day with me. Maybe I will tell them about you? How do you want to be remembered?

What you do or don’t do, right now, will affect my entire life, and the lives of my children and grandchildren. Maybe they’ll ask why you did nothing, and why those who knew and could speak out, didn’t.

15-year-old Greta Thunberg sits down outside the Swedish parliament every day until the Swedish election — for the climate. This is her own strong and apprehensive text about the climate crisis and our ineptitude to deal with it; the above text was written by Greta Thunberg and translated from Swedish by We Don’t Have Time. It is published with Greta Thunberg’s approval.

Thanks to reader henriknordborg for bringing this to our attention.


8 responses to “For Greta

  1. This is the sort of champion for a sustainable climate that every single person should be.

    No excuses, no exceptions.

  2. my sincere apologies to Greta and so many others. I have been an alarmist for a long time, calling out for others to wake up and recognize the existential threat we face and I have been met with resistance and derision by folks who know better. The folks who have taken global warming too lightly should be deeply ashamed when they read what you have to say. Many of them will think you are over-reacting, exaggerating the dangers, being staged by activist parents in your demonstration. I am not one of those people. I read what you say and it sounds accurate to me. We have to continue the struggle to reduce CO2 buildup in atmosphere and oceans, but it is very late. Every ppm increase that can be avoided will reduce the long term damage to some degree and to reduce the impact we need to move the CO2 needle down from the 410 ppm, but so far, the needle just keeps going up. That is the only metric you need to follow to determine if we are making progress on global warming.

  3. This what I led with when I shared the article on my FB profile and in a couple of groups:

    I read about global warming day in, day out. The science of it fascinates me. But what horrifies me and brings me sadness and anger to no end is that no one I talk to seems to take it seriously. To everybody I talk to, global warming is something abstract and far out in the future; I think they believe that it will dealt with in the future when future people will come up with some technologies that will easily solve the problem. Then they go back into their shell and continue doing what they have always done. People do not think of the legacy they are leaving behind, and more importantly, creating for their children and grand children (and so on) to live in, and extremely likely suffer greatly through. Global warming is here, there is no new normal. It will continue to get worse.

    I have two questions: 1.) How can you look at your children and think about how you want them to have happy lives and also turn your back on the knowledge that you, as we all are, creating an environment, a planet, that will not be sustainable for their lives in the near future? 2.) What will your legacy be?

  4. rhymeswithgoalie

    This global warming PSA is 9 years old:

  5. Reblogged this on Anmerkungen und Beobachtungen and commented:
    Mit der Entschiedenheit der Jugend beschämt sie uns.
    Ist ihre Kraft nicht schön?
    Fragen wir uns nicht nur: Was kann unser Beitrag sein? Tragen wir bei!

  6. Reblogged it.

  7. This is the sort of champion for a sustainable climate that every single person should be.

    No excuses, no exceptions.
    ever.. Act now. Then act again.