Greta Thunberg, TIME's 2019 Person of the Year will turn 17 on January 3. And during the past year, I believe that she has done more to fight climate change than any other person - EVER! And for that, we are all in her debt.
- She has brought the topic of climate change to front and center on the world stage.
- In so doing, she has greatly increased the relevance of my own work for the past three years.
- Finally, she has inspired me to take even bolder steps in 2020 and beyond.
During 2019, 16-year old Greta soared from virtual obscurity to the cover of TIME magazine--twice. And in so doing, she catapulted into the rarified air of "one-name" celebrities like Madonna and Cher.
Just one name is all you need.
This is what I posted about her one year ago:
After my good friend, Stuart Scott, the founder and executive director of
, introduced Greta to the world at COP24 last year in Poland, this young woman has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Appearing on the cover of TIME and the focus of many news stories, she has quickly become the single most recognizable FACE in the world on the topic of fighting climate change.
Now she has a book in print. You can buy the e-book, Kindle version for $7.99.
It's a chronological collection of her speeches during the past year, beginning in September of 2018. It was published by Penguin last month and is about a one-hour read.
It's real easy to purchase and send e-books to friends, co-workers and relatives, including the teens in your family.
Some friends gave me a paperback version for Christmas. Here are a few excerpts, the first took place in September of 2018 at a climate march in Sweden and the second, one year later, at the U.S. Congress in Washington, DC.
At the Climate March:
If people knew that the scientists say that we have a 5% chance of meeting the Paris target, and if people knew what a nightmare scenario we will face if we don't keep global warming below 2 degrees C, they wouldn't need to ask me why I'm on school strike outside Parliament.
At the U.S. Congress:
Some of you may have heard that we have twelve years from January 1, 2018, to cut our emissions of carbon dioxide in half. But I guess that hardly any of you have heard that that is for a 50% chance of staying below a 1.5 degree global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels. A 50% chance.
Would any one of you step onto a plane if you knew it had more than a 50% chance of crashing? More to the point: would you put your children on that flight?
Greta Testifies to U.S. Congress in September of 2019
In defense of Greta. Throughout 2019, Greta has drawn criticism about her doom and gloom approach of trying to pressure the leaders of the world into getting deadly serious about climate change. Today, I will try to clarify two things:
- Who she is and what she is accomplishing
- Who she is not and what she will not accomplish
My impression of Greta is that she is an extremely rare combination of brains, courage, timing, sincerity, ability to focus and a calm presence - all paired with two loving and cooperative parents who have bought into her message and have sacrificed their own careers to help enable her to share her most important message with the entire world.
As for accomplishments. Almost everyone agrees that she's far surpassed any other climate change messenger in the history of the world and, in so doing, she has brought the gory realities of abrupt climate change to the forefront. In so doing, she continuously talks about what the scientists are saying as the main thrust of her powerful message.
She continuously calls for the urgent need for action. As we all know, she has been ultra successful in this first awareness phase of changing the world's perception and understanding of the greatest threat to our future in all of history.
But Greta does have her limits and we adults must do our best to help her promote much-needed action throughout the world. Even with all of her skills and success in raising awareness of the global need to act to slow down, stop and reverse abrupt climate change, she does not possess the requisite tools, background and resources to develop and lead the actions needed to save us all from a rapidly approaching disaster.
That monumental task can only be accomplished by the adults in the room. With the right combination of the world's elected leaders, scientists, futurists, engineers, architects, social scientists, economists and philanthropists - all coming together to develop and execute a plan - we adults in the room can get this done.
As you know, the primary focus for everything I have written or spoken about in public since September of 2018 has been in an attempt to promote the global conversation for coming to grips with the crisis we are in today. It is my sincere conclusion that we must reinvent almost every element of the way we live in the developed world.
Doing more recycling, eliminating meat & dairy, lowering consumption levels, taking public transportation and avoiding air travel are all steps that individuals can take to slow climate change.
But those individual actions alone will not be nearly enough. The good news is that those kinds of actions taken by enough people, may buy us more time - maybe even enough time to develop and implement broad systemic lifestyle changes throughout the world that are necessary for our longterm survival.
The Bottom Line. As we reinvent the way we live, we must constantly put the needs of nature first. As I keep saying:
We're only going to get one chance to get this right - so we had best err on the side of learning to live even "greener" that Mother Nature demands.
For your convenience, here are links to earlier SOS Memos that I have written on this topic. As always, I am simply trying to spark the global conversation about what is needed. By sharing a vision of what I believe is possible, I hope to influence others to think bigger, better and bolder.
J. Morris (Jim) Hicks
PS: You may be wondering how you can help promote the never-ending search for a way to save our species. You can get me in front of some audiences who you think might be ready to hear about the long-overdue,
global "conversation" about our survival
As for speaking, I continue to search for mainstream audiences who may have an interest in learning more about a realistically hopeful vision for our future - and their role in making that vision come true.
As such, I will travel anywhere for an opportunity to speak to one or more groups in each city that I visit. I will create a custom presentation for each audience and I only ask for travel expense reimbursement and a modest honorarium.
In the months ahead, I will continue to focus on the urgent need for a totally reinvented greening of our civilization - beginning with a model in the USA that could be applied globally over the next fifty years.