Knowledge Update

Greta Thunberg Effect

Greta Thunberg is a 17-year-old Swedish teenager who has captured headlines across the globe as the poster-girl for activism against climate change and is one of the nominees for this year’s Nobel peace prize. She is currently the most familiar face drawing the world’s attention to this man-made problem.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thunberg said at the United Nations General Assembly, recently. "You are failing us. But young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.” Her eyes filled with angry tears as she aimed a searing indictment at world leaders gathered there.

To address the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, she travelled across the Atlantic by boat rather than by air, as she lived her belief that aircraft burn large amounts of fossil fuels, discharge tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and worsen global warming. She also convinced her parents to stop eating meat, and got her mom, a well-known opera singer, to agree to stop flying [1].


The picture depicts the reason behind Global Warming

Thunberg learned about climate change in 2011, when she was 8 years old, and could not understand why so little was being done about it [2]. Three years later she became depressed, lethargic, and stopped talking as well as eating, and eventually was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and selective mutism which made her handicapped. However, Greta acknowledged that she does not view her Asperger's like illness and has instead called it her "superpower". Which means that she will speak only when it is necessary. And this is one of those moments.

In August 2018, Thunberg took her activism public. She began spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger action on global warming by holding up a sign saying "School strike for climate". Soon, other students engaged in similar protests in their own communities. Together they organized a school climate strike movement under the name Fridays for Future. Children all over the world inspired by Greta have stepped up to tackle climate change. Millions of young people flooded the streets of cities around the world on Friday [3]. There were at least two coordinated multi-city protests involving over one million students each.

“One reason that I think why Greta became so famous so fast is that there was already dissatisfaction with ongoing climate politics in general,” said Katrin Uba, a professor at Sweden’s Uppsala University and Estonia’s University of Tartu who has been studying Thunberg’s impact since this spring. It’s partly an issue of timing, Uba said. Mass climate protests and marches had already started by the time Thunberg began her strikes. And just two months after they started, a landmark UN report painting the direst picture yet of climate change was published.

The Greta Effect is now becoming more visible. Britain's secretary for the environment, Michael Gove, said: "When I listened to you, I felt great admiration, but also responsibility and guilt" Labour politician Ed Milliband, admits, "You have woken us up. We thank you. All the young people who have gone on strike have held up a mirror to our society".

Global leaders and movements often start this way! May the world leaders take the matter of ‘Global Climate Change’ seriously and initiate necessary action across the globe to save our planet before it is too late.

References:

1. Carolyn Beeler. How did teen climate activist Greta Thunberg rise to fame so quickly?
PRI's The World. October 10, 2019. [Assessed from: https://tinyurl.com/yxsmoeol].

2. Greta Thunberg. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greta_Thunberg
3. The World staff. How climate change affects children's health. PRI's The World. September 23, 2019. [Assessed from: https://tinyurl.com/y22dwmbj].

Image source: https://antimatter.ie/2012/06/21/no-man-made-global-warming-in-ireland-thank-you

Dr. Sanjoy Kumar Pal is a Professor of Biology in Skyline University Nigeria. He has a PhD. in Animal Genetics from Indian Veterinary Research Institute, India.

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