We Owe It To Our Children

Long after the pandemic has been conquered, long after Donald Trump is but a dark memory, long after most of my generation is gone, the environment will remain the world’s biggest single problem.  I’m always a bit shame-faced when I listen to the young climate activist who has done so much to awaken people to the problem of earth’s atmosphere being headed to the point where it can no longer sustain life.  I think about the lights I keep on, about allowing my van to idle for 10 minutes every day to keep the battery from draining, about the plastic water bottles that we still use … then discard. The pandemic has led to even worse habits, for we are no longer allowed to use reusable shopping bags, but must carry our purchases home in plastic bags, and it seems that environmental concerns have been pushed back, overridden by the pandemic crisis.

The young climate activist I refer to, of course, is none other than Greta Thunberg.  The World Economic Forum (WEF) holds an annual meeting at the end of January in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland.  One of the topics discussed in this year’s meeting is, of course, the environmental and ecological crises facing every nation on the globe.  Due to the pandemic, this year’s meeting, being held this week, is a series of virtual meetings, rather than face-to-face.  One of the speakers is Greta Thunberg, and what follows is her recorded statement for the group, and the text of her statement.


Greta Thunberg’s Message to World Leaders at Davos Summit

My name is Greta Thunberg and I’m not here to make deals. You see, I don’t belong to any financial interest or political party. So I can’t bargain or negotiate. I am only here to once again remind you of the emergency we’re in. The crisis that you and your predecessors have created and inflicted upon us. The crisis that you continue to ignore.

I am here to remind you of the promises that you have made to your children and grandchildren. And to tell you that we are not willing to compromise on the very minimum safety levels that still remain.

The climate and ecological crisis can unfortunately no longer be solved within today’s systems. According to the current best available science that is no longer an opinion; that’s a fact.

We need to keep this in mind as countries, businesses and investors now rush forward to present their new so-called “ambitious” climate targets and commitments. The longer we avoid this uncomfortable truth, and the longer we pretend we can solve the climate – and ecological emergency — without treating it like a crisis — the more precious time we will lose. And this is time we do not have.

Today, we hear leaders and nations all over the world speak of an “existential climate emergency”. But instead of taking the immediate action you would in any emergency, they set up vague, insufficient, hypothetical targets way into the future, like “net-zero 2050.” Targets based on loopholes and incomplete numbers. Targets that equal surrender. It’s like waking up in the middle of the night, seeing your house on fire, then deciding to wait 10, 20 or 30 years before you call the fire department while labeling those trying to wake people up alarmists.

We understand that the world is very complex and that change doesn’t happen overnight. But you’ve now had more than three decades of bla bla bla. How many more do you need? Because when it comes to facing the climate and ecological emergency, the world is still in a state of complete denial. The justice for the most affected people in the most affected areas is being systematically denied.

Even though we welcome every single climate initiative, the proposals being presented and discussed today are very far from being enough. And the time for “small steps in the right direction” is long gone. If we are to have at least a small chance of avoiding the worst consequences of the climate and ecological crisis, this needs to change.

Because you still say one thing, and then do the complete opposite. You speak of saving nature, while locking in policies of further destruction for decades to come.

You promise to not let future generations down, while creating new loopholes, failing to connect the dots, building your so called “pledges” on the cheating tactics that got us into this mess in the first place. If the commitments of lowering all our emissions by 70, 68 or even 55 percent by 2030 actually meant they aim to reduce them by those figures then that would be a great start. But that is unfortunately not the case.

And since the level of public awareness continues to be so low our leaders can still get away with almost anything. No one is held accountable. It’s like a game. Whoever is best at packaging and selling their message wins.

As it is now, we can have as many summits and meetings as we want, but unless we treat the climate and ecological crisis like a crisis, no sufficient changes will be achieved. What we need — to begin with — is to implement annual binding carbon budgets based on the current best available science.

Right now more than ever we are desperate for hope. But what is hope? For me hope is not more empty assurances that everything will be alright, that things are being taken care of and we do not need to worry.

For me, hope is the feeling that keeps you going, even though all odds may be against you. For me hope comes from action not just words. For me, hope is telling it like it is. No matter how difficult or uncomfortable that may be.

And again, I’m not here to tell you what to do. After all, safeguarding the future living conditions and preserving life on earth as we know it is voluntary. The choice is yours to make.

But I can assure you this. You can’t negotiate with physics. And your children and grandchildren will hold you accountable for the choices that you make. How’s that for a deal?

24 thoughts on “We Owe It To Our Children

    • I adore this young woman and have so much respect for her and for her parents! Not only in Germany, my friend, but here and likely in other countries, too. The focus has been on keeping the fossil fuel industries rich and powerful. Now, we all understand … well, at least those of us with working brains understand … that we are killing ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. Changes must be made!

      Liked by 1 person

    • No, we don’t listen because listening would mean changing our lifestyle a bit, driving less, turning the thermostat down, and we do love our conveniences … even if it means the end of life on earth. Sigh. Thank you so much for sharing, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. isn’t she wonderful? I love how unswerving and and straight forward she is. And of course she is so right.
    The pandemic has shown me that it is possible for governments to react quite quickly. Looking at the Australian experience, our governments listened to the scientists and created strategies based on that advice. They threw money at the problems that arose ~ job losses, people not being able to afford to stay home and quarantine, vaccinations. They even provided hotel accomodation for homeless people. But, it is so different with climate action, especially with the federal government, who are in thrall to coal mining for exports and the coal fired power stations.

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    • Our provincial government (Alberta, Canada) bet about 7.5 billion CAD gambling that Trump would win reelection, and another unknown amount quietly recalling decades old environmental laws so they could reopen open pit coal mining, destroying millions of acres of natural habitats. On purpose! Not caring about climate change, caring only about the fossil-fuel industries owned by their friends. Even knowing Biden would rescind the permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, they gambled our tax dollars to kill our children. It was a stupid gamble, and now they have lost. Are they apologizing to We the People? Of course not, they are blaming Biden for not caring about our economy.
      7.5 billion CAD could have gone a long way to discovering cleaner greener energy sources. We could be creating all kinds of new jobs, new technologies, better futures for all our kids. But no, they would rather be disappearing dinosaurs.
      We need forward thinkers like Greta, and we need them now!

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    • Indeed she is! I’ve known some great young people, still do, but Greta is #1 in my book, and best yet, she practices what she preaches!

      Our own government failed in that … no quick reaction, only denial and platitudes, mocking the precautions, etc., such that we have consistently had the world’s highest death toll. And our government for the past four years has treated climate change much the same, pooh-poohing the scientific data, encouraging fossil fuel use … sigh.

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  2. Jill, the young folks get it. They will be the ones who also get harmed by it, if we don’t deal with it more. While strides were made in spite of them, the US lost twelve years to more strident planning with Bush and Trump. Biden is at least reengaging the US government in the fight. The only good thing about the pandemic is people are traveling less by plane and auto. And, the electric car market has passed a tipping point while that has been going on. Keith

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    • Yes, if anyone can save life on earth, it will fall to the next generation and the one that follows it, for we are doing a lousy job of it. After GM’s announcement that they will only be manufacturing cars by … I can’t remember but perhaps it was 2035 … I was encouraged that despite all the opposition, we may get there yet.

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  3. Wise words as always from Greta. I’m as guilty as the next person of not doing my bit, but it would be good to get a serious lead from governments around the world, who are in a position to do something important. Some see her as serious and unsmiling, but her concern is genuine and heartfelt. And she does have a less serious side: her Twitter trolling of Trump on his final day was superbly done.

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        • Every little bit helps,and lots of little bits hurt, but we have to try. You are fairly new to Jill’s friends, and most welcome you are, but you haven’t heard some of my tales as yet. I live in boondocks Alberta, Canada. High Level, if you want to find it on a map. We are in the middle of the old forest which stretches for hundreds of miles around us. People do not recycle used goods up here, they say it costs more to ship them south than they can get for recycling them. It isn’t about the earth, or the future of our planet, it IS about money. So in our garbage dump you will find everything from old electrical appliances to nonbiodegradable plastics to glass bottles to meltable metals to rotting paper and cardboard. The motto is, there is so much space we can never fill it. Yeah, remember when they used to say the oceans are so big nothing could ever harm them. That wasn’t very long ago, yet now the oceans and all the life in them are dying because of such backward thinkers. High Level is full of backwards thinkers.
          But to my point, the nearest recycling centre is 300 kilometres away, the next 450 kms away. What my partner and I do is save up our recycling and transport it to these centres where we need to travel anyway five or six times every year. Yes, even though we have a highly fuel-efficient vehicle, a Honda CRV, we do pollute the atmosphere a bit making these trips, but since we have to make them anyway, why not take our recycling with us. It just stands to reason. (There are no electric battery chargers up here, so electric cars are out of the question!)
          Other citizens of our area, a very very huge area, laugh at us. Look at the goody-do-gooders. Most every one of them drives a gas-guzzling pick-up truck, or a large SUV. Our air is clean, no thanks to them, but it will not always be that way. And our air does not belong to us, it blows all around the world.
          Forestry [sic] companies up here cut down our forests willy-nilly, for all kinds of products such as the wood pellets Britain is now burning to produce clean, green energy. What a laugh! Burning wood produces carbon dioxide, which is invisible. It may look clean, but it is not! Meanwhile, back here, at the source, the forest is so large the companies do not bother replanting the trees, because the forests are endless. Until they’re not.
          Ach, I seem to be back on my soap box, that was not my intention. Sorry. I just wanted to say how we do our little bit, because while it is but a drop in the ocean of pollution, it is one less drop Mother Nature has to work to correct. I wish we could convince others to do it, but we cannot.
          Our forests are slowly, usually, disappearing. In 2019, we had a wild fire go through a large chunk of it, that was not slow. Our once abundant wildlife is not so abundant anymore. Where we used to get hundreds of birds at our feeders, we now get tens. But people do not care.
          It makes me sick.

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          • Thank you for your very detailed reply. I don’t think I could do it justice in response, but there is one thing to be drawn from it: no attempt at cleaning up the earth will work until people can be persuaded that there is something in it for them. Selfishness, self-centredness and denial are formidable obstacles to overcome.

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    • So am I, Clive. I think we all are, but you and I are likely better than most, at least here in the U.S. I have friends who actually warm their car up, then drive 1/2 block down the street to deposit their rubbish in the bin!

      Greta is indeed genuine … a person who truly cares, and world leaders would do well to heed her words! I hadn’t seen her trolling of Trump on Twitter that day, but I will definitely go check it out! Thanks!

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        • Yes, my own would be to turn lights out when they’re not absolutely necessary, and to buy the distiller (water, not alcohol) that I’ve been promising to do forever so that we can stop using plastic water bottles. I used to always use my own reusable grocery bags, but now that’s taboo. I walk wherever I can rather than drive. And I have cut down on the consumption of beef, serving it only about once every two weeks. I’m trying. Sigh.

          I checked it out earlier today and I did see it … had just forgotten about it! She is a gem! She could sweep Trump under the rug!

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          • We all need to think about what we can do. Some are too stupid to think it doesn’t affect them, though.

            It’s not the first time she has thrown his words back at him, and he can’t retaliate now.

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