BY SYED MUSTAFA AHMAD
From an introverted backbencher who thought she could not make a difference, to one of the most influential activists in the world, Greta Thunberg has come a long way. She was nominated for the prestigious Nobel Prize in 2019. She shot to fame for her Friday School strike outside the Swedish Parliament. Her journey is very interesting. All of you walk with me and we will come across a gem, Greta Thunberg.
Who is Greta Thunberg?
Greta Thunberg is a climate change activist who quickly shot to fame with her school strikes. Today, she is a beacon of hope for student activism, someone who is not afraid to speak her mind to politicians or billionaire businessmen. Inspiring around 1.4 million students around the world to start protesting, she has definitely made a difference. The difference in our approach. There now seems some stir towards the global challenge, climate change.
The turning point
When she was eight years old, Thunberg saw a movie in school about the accumulating plastics in the ocean and dying polar bears. While most of her classmates were disturbed by this, they moved on from it quite easily but her case wasn’t quite the same. She had cried through all the movies and couldn’t get the picture out of her head. She was surprised that not everybody was talking about this. Thunberg spent so much time thinking about the strain we are putting on the environment that it pushed her into isolating herself. It was her sensitive nature that made her uncomfortable. She could not believe that the precious resources were wasted by the callousness of the man.
During her time at home, all she ever spoke to her parents was about the severities of climate change. Although they didn’t give much attention to her thoughts at first, she didn’t stop. Thunberg persistently showed them reports, articles and graphs citing the same which made them understand her point. She describes this moment where she realized that she too can make sure difference.
In 2018, when Europe witnessed a record heatwave, she decided to take things into her own hands. Inspired by the Parkland School in Florida, the U.S., where students protested the U.S. gun laws by walking out of classes, on August 20. Thunberg decided to skip school and do a silent protest outside the Swedish Parliament asking then to revise their climate change laws. With a sign board reading” Skolstrejk for klimatet ( School strike for the climate),” she started her journey. Soon enough she wasn’t doing this alone. She sat outside the parliament everyday till the Swedish national elections and then decided to protest every Friday. Till this day Thunberg continues to protest outside the Swedish Parliament every Friday.
What makes her special?
From being an introvert and isolating herself, to openly discussing about the reality of climate change and being named the most important woman of Sweden, Thunberg has had a transformational journey. Despite the media attention and the world joining her, Thunberg continues her protest, ensuring the efforts of millions do not go waste.
What message does it contain for us?
Now or never is the graffiti on the wall. Most of damage is done. But there is a hope of revival. When a girl of 15 years can be serious about climate change, how can we be so indifferent. All the resources of the entire Universe are for the benefit of human beings. They have been gifted to us only for the sake of comfort and preservation. But we forget the lesson of preserving and begin to take as much as comfort as we can. The end result is in front of our eyes. Everywhere is destruction. Nature is ruthlessly destroyed. We, being the crown of humanity, can come forward and do a lot at individual level in particular and at collective level in general to combat climate change. Climate change is man made and it is going to haunt human beings. Let us leave our greediness and do our best to save the beautiful species from extinction. Coleridge said that water is everywhere but no drop is fit for drinking. At another place, he says that our life is sordid boon. It is a paradox. We find solace in temporary things. In other sense, it means that we earn and spend, without caring least for the environment.
Sustainable Development is the need of the hour. It will fulfil our necessities, the necessities of the future generations and protect the environment. But it shouldn’t be only in theory. It should have practical use. We can switch to eco- friendly methods if we try.
Syed Mustafa Ahmad can be reached at email@example.com