Finally, a worldwide sound of alarm about the URGENCY of fighting climate change. And it took a few million children to get it done.
Not only did these kids "change the conversation" at the U.N. this week, but their message of urgency and hope totally outshined TIME Magazine's efforts earlier this month with their complete issue focused only on climate.
For me, this audacious burst of energy and dedication from the youth activists greatly lifted my spirits. Maybe there is hope after all.
Regarding the public expectations from the U.N. Climate Summit, this quote from a recent
summed up the widespread lack of meaningful climate change action in recent years - or even a lack of participation by some of the major powers:
No one - neither the European nor Asian governments that are here [in New York], nor the U.S. that isn't - is cutting emissions fast enough to address many scientists' warnings of looming catastrophe in the coming decades. China's are still rising rapidly.
Although constantly hoping that I am wrong about my conclusions, with each passing week, we Earthlings seem to be drifting further away from slowing climate change soon enough to save our civilization and our species. Later in that same Politico article, they summed up the U.N. situation thusly:
This week is more likely to be remembered as the week that banks, other companies and teenagers took charge of the multilateral climate response - in the absence of united political action - egged on by Europe and small nations.
Speaking of teenagers:
Greta's Speech compared to TIME's Climate Issue
Today I am comparing the stodgy, business as usual approach to climate change that has failed us miserably - to the "House on Fire" emergency alarms that are being sounded by millions of courageous children around the world.
Drastic action has been needed for a long time, but there has never been much discussion of that urgency in the mainstream news, including in the recent TIME issue, until this week. Thanks to the global youth movement, perhaps a much more urgent discussion of, and action on, the many climate issues will be forthcoming.
As you can tell by the fire in the belly of this teen-age girl, these kids are not going to quit.
On Monday, Greta Thunberg blasted world leaders in her 'How dare you' emotional speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in this 5-minute speech garnering millions of views on various media platforms in the first 24 hours.
Her fiery speech was impressive. It was sincere, emotional, courageous, spirited, persuavive and powerful. In another
video from the previous day
, the U.N. Secretary General responds to the overall message from the youth rebellion with sincere gratitude and encouragement. He actually thanked them for what they are doing and encouraged more of the same.
Here are a few excerpts from Greta's speech that may help inspire you to watch the five-minute video. When asked by the moderator, "What is your message?" She replied:
My message is that we are watching you. (long pause and some applause). This is all wrong, I shouldn't be here; I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.
For more than thirty years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you to continue to look away and come here saying you're doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.
"People are dying; entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!"
So what about TIME's Climate Issue? Alhtough I did not read the entire publication, I did read the cover article carefully and found it, unlike Greta's speech, to be lacking in its ability to inspire urgent action.
The lead article is based on a hypothetical situation in 2050 - describing how we had actually survived climate change. In my opinion, a message like this conveys that we're beginning to take the right steps and that everything will be okay.
But things are NOT OKAY! In fact, things are getting steadily worse by the day. Hence, I believe that articles like this one, written by the well-known climate activist Bill McKibben, actually promote complacency.
Why did I use the word complacency just now? See his comments below (hypothetically in the year 2050) about our grossly unsustainable food choices. He describes how humans had begun a gradual shift away from meat as opposed to a massive, urgent global shift that I've been advocating for years.
As I carefully read his piece, I was imagining how my meat-eating friends, after reading his article, would likely surmise that the problem with their animal-based foods is not such a big deal after all.
Remember, McKibben was talking about hypothetical actions that have taken place between 2019 and 2050 - thirty-one years worth of actions that he says have helped us survive climate change. He says in the piece:
Some people stopped eating meat, and lots and lots of people ate less of it - a cultural transformation made easier by the fact that Impossible Burgers turned out to be at least as juicy as the pucks that fast-food chains had been slinging for years.
The number of cows on the world's farms started to drop, and with them the source of perhaps a fifth of emissions. More crucially, new diets reduced the pressure to cut down the remaining tropical rain forests to make way for grazing land.
After thirty-one years, "Some people have stopped eating meat." Is that the best he can do? McKibben's view of reality in 2050 sounds like the same "business as usual" attitude that we see today.
While reading his words, I was immediately reminded of the fact that our global consumption of animal-based foods has continued to rise exponentially while environmentalists and most NGOs like Sierra Club and GreenPeace rarely even mention it as a problem - and when they do, it is a watered down version similar to McKibben's earlier quote.
In my public presentations, I use these two slides when talking about his work, along with the environmental NGOs, who have never made it clear that we must completely stop eating animals if we wish to have any chance whatsoever of surviving as a species.
In an April 2017 televised interview, McKibben stated:
To be entirely honest, we don't know for sure that we can slow down global warming enough to matter. We've waited a very long time to get started.
To which I, Greta and the world's youth activists would say:
This graph clearly shows what has happened to our atmosphere's CO2 readings for the past three hundred years. As you can see, the steady rise in CO2 ppm has turned exponential in the most recent fifty years.
The Bottom Line. Like the slide above says, we, the human citizens of planet Earth, haven't really ever even started - when it comes to getting totally serious about climate change.
And although I respect and applaud the well-intentioned actions of TIME Magazine and Bill McKibben - what the world needs now is a lot more urgency. Fortunately, with the help of a few million children, we may begin to see some of that urgency.
In closing, with the utmost respect and appreciation for their efforts, I would like to dedicate this SOS Memo to all of them - the global youth movement that is addressing climate change. And because of their courage and determination, I am feeling better about our chances this week than I have for a long time.
Thank you Greta and the millions of youth around the world who have embraced your passion and determination for tackling the most serious topic in the history of humanity - our survival as a species.
A very busy young woman, Greta challenges Congress amd pays President Obama a visit while in DC last week
This just in, published yesterday in the
New York Times, this powerful piece by one of my favorite journalists, Tom Friedman, could not have come at a better time.
I will end this SOS Memo by saluting my friend Stuart Scott who is battling cancer in Honolulu. It was he who introduced Greta to the world stage at the COP 24 in Poland last December. Stuart told me that making that introduction is probably the most significant contribution to humanity he has ever made.
Continuing with this theme next week, I will revisit the totally reinvented greening of our civlization - beginning with a model in the USA that could be applied globally over the next twenty years.
My first blog on the crucial topic of totally reinventing our civilization was
posted 9-21-18 and
heads the list below. It was all about GRATOLA, an acronym that refers to the "green region" corridor running from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
Since then, I have posted more than forty additional pieces on that topic, including this one on 9-4-19 in which I introduced the GBN (Great Big Northern) - one 25-mile wide corridor along the USA's northernmost border that would theroetically be capable of sustainably housing ALL 300+ million Americans in an area the size of Oregon.