Greta

for my great-nieces Caitlin and Ella Guscott

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night with a mosquito. African proverb.

By J.S. Porter

I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  I’m biting my nails. By the time you read this Greta Thunberg may have won the Nobel Prize for peace, the youngest recipient ever.  The announcement will be made October 9th. 2020.

Greta belongs to a small circle—Oprah, Malala, Beyoncé, etc.— who are recognized throughout the world by a single name.  Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019, she has mobilized climate strikes and protests, particularly by young people, everywhere she goes. If I had a vote at the Swedish Academy’s deliberations, I know who I’d vote for.

Greta Thunberg’s Little White Book (white in the Penguin English language edition anyway) is a small stick of dynamite. The book consists of Greta’s speeches, her exhortations, all within 68 pages and under 10 dollars.

She looks on her Asperger’s syndrome as a gift, as one of her “superpowers,” along with OCD and selective mutism, enabling her to think advantageously in black-and-white. “We need to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases.” No “sometimes” or “maybe” or “a little.” We need to do it – period. If we can rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral, we can restore the Earth.

Here’s how she introduces herself: “My name is Greta Thunberg. I am sixteen years old. I come from Sweden. And I want you to panic. I want you to act as if your house was on fire.”

At the World Economic Forum in Davois, 25 January 2019, she was even more direct: “Our house is on fire. I’m here to say that our house is on fire.”

Scientists have for many years been predicting accurately the consequences of global warming: There will be more floods, more fires, more hurricanes, more heat, more cold, more extreme weather, and the world has gone back to sleep. The earth seems to be in convulsions and yet nothing seems to awaken us from our delusion that we can carry on as usual – more mega homes, more highways, more parking lots, more cars, more drilling for oil, more fracking, more cattle for burgers.

According to a CNN report by Ira Helfand, Arun Mitra and Tilman Ruff entitled Will Covid-19 save the world? (opinion) 4/17/2020:

“If we don’t stop relying on fossil fuels and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, we are dooming the planet and our children to a climate catastrophe that will render large portions of the planet uninhabitable, displace hundreds of millions of people and cause human suffering on an unimaginable scale.”

Greta believes in science and facts. No wonder Trump finds her unpalatable.

Her message is a simple one: Wake up. We are in a Climate Crisis of our own making, unlike any crisis we’ve faced in the past.  Mother earth is sick from our greed, our development, and our “progress.”

How often have you read this kind of clarity? “We need a whole new way of thinking…we must stop competing with each other, we need to cooperate and work together and share the resources of the planet in a fair way. We need to start living within the planetary boundaries, focus on equity and take a few steps back for the sake of all living species. We need to protect the biosphere, the air, the oceans, the soil, the forests.”

A youth, she speaks with the wisdom of an elder. A child-warrior, a modern-day Joan of Arc, Greta leads an international army in its mission to protect and conserve the planet. She gives the Climate Crisis a face, a voice and a heart.

Interestingly, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s recent book The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience speaks of Greta as an Earth Defender in company with Jane Goodall, Rachel Carson and Kenyan tree-planter Wangari Maathai.

The fight to save the planet, to restore our home, has finally begun, with the inspirational premise from a teenager that “no one is too small to make a difference.”


All quotations, unless otherwise stipulated, are from No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, published by Penguin in 2019.

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