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Climate Change Education Features

Climate Change: The World Needs More Greta Thunbergs

Climate Change is a real threat. It brings with it prolonged periods of unusual extreme weather, desert-esque terrain, degradation of forestland and a looming threat of drought. The threat has now reached a crisis point and is proving detrimental to our planet’s future, and if the authorities across the globe don’t take immediate measures to mitigate this problem then its fallout can be catastrophic for planet earth.

At the forefront of tackling this grave problem is a 16-year-old Swedish kid whose life presents an amazing story of unending resilience and unparalleled commitment.

Greta Thunberg, despite suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, has put in untiring efforts and defied plenty of odds in her mission to increase awareness about the hazards of climate change and to make people realise that climate change is not a myth.

Many people wrongly think of climate change as a hoax and discount our contribution to this crisis by attributing it entirely to natural factors, like atmospheric or oceanic circulation, latitude and natural cycles.

However, Greta Thunberg thinks that talking to people who do not take climate change seriously, including President Trump, is a waste of time. In August 2018, she started a school strike and protested outside the Swedish parliament to demand action against climate change.

She found herself at the receiving end of harsh criticism by cynics, including Australian political commentator Andrew Bolt who called Greta “deeply disturbed” and “a girl with plenty of mental disorders”, British businessman Arron Banks who wished her to drown in her voyage, and English broadcaster Julia Hartley Brewer who attempted to debunk her scientifically approved claims.

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In August 2018 and January 2019, she gave TED talks in Stockholm that laid emphasis on the need to launch a collective battle against the looming threat of climate change. Both of her Ted talks received more than 1 million views.

Greta Thunberg, who has adopted a vegan diet to fight climate change, has travelled across many European countries, including Berlin and Switzerland, with her message and also spoke to prominent personalities like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to raise awareness about climate change.

When invited to attend the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September, she announced to board a zero-emission yacht instead of travelling by plane.

Her struggle started with a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament and turned into a worldwide movement when Thunberg inspired more than 1.5 million students from 125 countries to skip their school on 15th March to protest about climate change.

To honour her contributions, Greta has been bestowed with plenty of prestigious awards including Amnesty’s 2019 Ambassador of Conscience award, Normandy Freedom prize in France, German Golden Camera award, and was also chosen by GQ Magazine as 2019 Game Changer of The Year. She has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and if she succeeds to achieve this feat, she will become the youngest Nobel laureate surpassing Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai.

It would not be hyperbole to say that if this world has more people like Greta Thunberg, our dream of a clean and green planet could come true.

So, what role should we play and what are our responsibilities to curb this threat? Unfortunately, when leaders of important countries meet in a bilateral meeting, they normally address concerns like terrorism, nuclear power, education, foreign policies and very few of them bother to talk about climate change. As Canadian professor Katherine Hayhoe said in her Ted talk in 2018, the most important thing you can do to fight climate change is to talk about it.

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As history shows us, schemes like Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) proved to be steps in the right direction. Therefore, leaders of different countries should coalesce and thrive to devise effective strategies.

Secondly, filmmakers and television anchors should also highlight this issue on television to increase awareness among people across the world about the hazards of climate change. Secondly, governments should enforce cap and trade regulations to cut down carbon emissions.

Carbon emissions, a main constituent of greenhouse gases, are one of the key causes of climate change. Hence, governments should set a limit on an organisation’s carbon footprint which would not only provide the organisation with an incentive to trade unused carbon for money, but would also be vital in mitigating the problem. Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, planting trees must be our top priority since it is the most effective way to abate this crisis.

Planting trees offers a number of incredible benefits like improving the quality of air, reducing the risk of flood, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and providing oxygen to us. It has been really heartening to see that countries have realised the significance of adopting this measure.

In July 2019, Ethiopia created a world record by planting more than 350 million trees in twelve hours. Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, also launched an afforestation project in 2018 that aimed to plant over one billion trees. In addition to this, residents of northern Uttar Pradesh planted 220 million trees in August to combat climate change.

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The effects of climate change are already evident. If we continue to remain negligent, climatic shifts and disasters will destroy our futures. There is no alternative but to prepare and mitigate the effects. There is no other planet for us.

As Thunberg said, “No one is too small to make a difference”. Instead of making excuses and denying that climate change is actually happening, every citizen of the world should realise his or her responsibility and do all that is required to save this planet.

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