Climate change is possibly the biggest threat faced by humankind in the 21st century. While scientists have been trying to get the public’s and governments’ attention on this issue throughout the last few decades, it wasn’t until summer 2018, when a kid named Greta Thunberg decided to strike school in protest, that the issue finally started to circulate widely in the global media, gaining increasing momentum ever since.
The science behind climate change is not simple, and it can be difficult to grasp. Nonetheless the science is there, and scientists agree that we are the cause behind the accelerated rate of global warming1. Greta started a social movement of millions of people protesting and demanding governmental action on the issue of climate change, including a cut to global carbon emissions and a greater investment and reliance on renewable energy2.
Greta has been the target of a lot of hate recently3. While it would have been predictable that climate change deniers would have addressed their myopic criticism and hate at her, it is more curious to see that even people who had thus far appeared to have no opinion or interest on the issue felt the need to insult Greta following her last speech at the UN – instead of becoming concerned about the gravity of the situation4.
While speaking at the United Nations, activist Greta Thunberg delivered an impassioned speech during the Climate Action Summit where she spoke about the dangers of climate change.
There are already many articles that discuss why Greta may be receiving so much hate, and why some people are reacting negatively to her figure3,5,6. But let’s see why we need a public figure like Greta to help us in our fight against climate change denialism and inaction.
FIRST, every time she talks she brings loads of media attention on the climate change issue. So, while some argue that there should be scientists rather than her giving public speeches, guess what: scientists have been and still are engaging in public and policy outreach on this issue, we just don’t know about it because they’re not media magnets like Greta. Since greater media attention equals greater visibility on the issue, the more talks she gives the more the awareness on the issue grows, and hence the better.
SECOND, she always refers to science in her speeches, and redirects sceptics to the words of scientists. So, by any means, she also paves the way for scientists to further disseminate their research and knowledge on the issue.
THIRD, critics may say that her discourses are too laden with emotions and come across as unprofessional, unscientific or even unnecessary. Nonetheless, her mood reflects the state of mind of millions of people and helps her connect with many more.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, it is a crucial and urgent time in terms of our ability to prevent climate change beyond irreversible and potentially catastrophic levels. We just don’t have the luxury to cherry pick the looks or personalities of our speakers. We need all the help that we can get, and Greta’s determination and charisma are undoubtedly most welcomed.
Look at what she’s already achieved; think about how much more we can all achieve together.
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- Cook, J. et al. 2013. Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2) DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024
Cover image credits: https://bit.ly/2p6QmSF