There is no one "behind me": The young climate activist Greta Thunberg answers her detractors.
The school strike of the young Swede Greta Thunberg has an international reputation and receives some criticism. In this rostrum he defends the honesty of his commitment. The video of his recent speech at the United Nations Climate Change Summit has been around the world.
Greta Thunberg is a young Swedish militant who goes on a school strike to warn of the climate crisis. This tribune is the translation of a message from his Facebook page of February 2, 2019 in which he responds to his detractors. Reporterre, in a chronicle, highlighted "the underside of this fairy tale"
I have recently seen many rumors circulating about me and large amounts of hate. That does not surprise me. I know that since most are not aware of the full meaning of the climate crisis, which is understandable since it has never been treated as such a crisis, a school strike for the climate can seem strange to people in general.
So let me clarify a few things regarding my school strike.
In May 2018, I was one of the winners of a writing contest on the environment organized by Svenska Dagbladet, a Swedish newspaper. My article was published and some people contacted me, including Bo Thorén from Fossil Free Dasland; belonging to a group of people, mostly young people, who wanted to do something about the climate crisis. I had some phone conversations with other militants. His goal was to find new projects to draw attention to the climate crisis.
Bo had some ideas, mostly a vague idea regarding a school strike (having the students do something during the course or in the classrooms) inspired by the Parkland students who had stopped going to school after the shooting.
I liked the idea of a school strike. I developed it and tried to get other young people to join it, but no one was really interested. They believed that a Swedish version of the Zero Hour march would have greater effects. I continued planning the school strike alone and after that I no longer participated in further meetings with that group.
There is no one "behind" me except myself.
When I discussed my projects with my parents, they didn't like them very much. They were not in favor of a school strike and said that if it did, it should be alone and without their support.
On August 20, I sat before the Swedish Parliament. I distributed pamphlets with a long list of phenomena about the climate crisis and explanations about the reasons for my strike. The first thing I did was write on Twitter and Instagram what I was doing and soon that went viral. Then the journalists began to arrive. Ingmar Rentzhog, a Swedish businessman and activist in the climate movement, was among the first. He spoke to me and took photos that he posted on Facebook. It was the first time I had seen him and spoke to him. I had never communicated with him, nor had I seen him before.
Many people love to spread rumors saying that there are people "behind me", or that I am "paid" or "used" to do what I do. But there is no one "behind" me, except myself. My parents were as far removed as they could from the climate militants before I made them aware of the situation.
I am not part of any organization. Sometimes I support and cooperate with some NGOs that work on climate or environmental issues. But I am totally independent and I only represent myself. And what I do is completely free, I do not receive any money or any promise of future payments of any kind. And no one linked to me or my family does not.
And of course, that will remain so. I don't know of any climate activist who fights for the climate for money. This idea is completely absurd. In addition, I travel with permission from my school and my parents pay for tickets and accommodation.
My family has written a book on how my sister Beata and I have influenced the way my parents think and see the world, especially when it comes to the weather, and in line with our diagnoses.
Asperger is not a disease, it is a gift.
This book was supposed to appear in May (2018), but as there was a significant disagreement with the publisher. We ended up changing publisher and it came out in August (2018).
Before leaving, my parents clearly indicated that the benefits they could obtain would go to eight different charitable associations that worked in the fields of the environment, supporting sick children and defending animal rights.
What if. I write my own speeches. But since I know that what I say is going to affect a lot, many people, I often ask for advice. I have some scientists that I frequently ask for help to express some complex questions. I want everything to be absolutely correct so as not to spread wrong facts, or things that can be misunderstood.
Some people tease me for my difference. But Asperger's, it's not a disease, it's a gift. People also say that because I had Asperger's, I could not have decided on my own to get into this matter. But it is for exactly this reason that I have done it. Because if I had been "normal" and sociable, I would have joined an association or created one myself. But not being very sociable, I went on a school strike instead. I was very frustrated that nothing was being done against the climate crisis and it seemed to me that I should do something, no matter what it was. And sometimes NOT doing things, like just sitting in front of Parliament and not going to class, is stronger than acting. Like a murmur it is louder than a scream.
There is also a criticism according to which "I speak and write like an adult". To that I can only answer: don't you think that a 16-year-old can speak for herself? There are also people who say that I simplify things a lot. For example, when I say that "the climate crisis has a simple answer: it is all black or white, we have to stop greenhouse gas emissions and I want you to be afraid." But I say that because it's true. Yes, the climate crisis is the most complex issue we have ever faced and we are going to need to do everything to end it. But the solution is simple: we must end greenhouse gas emissions.
As almost nobody does anything and our future is in danger, we believe that we must continue.
It is all black or all white, because either we limit the warming to 1.5ºC, compared to pre-industrial levels, or we do not; Either we hit a tipping point by starting a chain reaction of events outside of human control or we don't. There are no gray areas when it comes to survival.
And when I say that I want you to be afraid, I mean that we have to treat the crisis as a crisis. When there is a fire in your house, do not sit down to talk about how to rebuild it after the fire is out. If your house burns, you run away and make sure everyone is out while you call the fire department. This requires a certain level of panic.
There is another argument against which I cannot do anything. It is the fact that I am “just a girl and that children should not be listened to”, but this is easy to answer: just start listening to rock-solid science in this regard. Because if everyone listened to the scientists they would hear the facts that I constantly recall, no one would have to listen to me or listen to the hundreds of thousands of students on strike for climate in the world. We could all go back to classrooms.
I am just a messenger, and for that I receive all this hatred. I am not saying anything new, I am simply saying what scientists have been repeating for decades. And I agree with this review: I am too young to do this. We young people shouldn't have to do this. But since hardly anyone does anything and our future is in danger, we believe that we have to continue.
And if you have other concerns or doubts in this regard, you can listen to my TED presentation where I tell how my interest in the climate and the environment began.
And thank you all for your support! That gives me hope.
Translation: Ramón Sánchez Tabarés