My Brief Thoughts on “I Am Greta”

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

She’s Too Young.

“”This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean.”

My politics weren’t particularly coherent as a teenager, so I get why people are hesitant to support the concept of politically active youth, but I think it’s overall a good thing, especially with regard to climate change.

She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

“To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees global temperature rise — the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] — the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on Jan. 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons.”

I think the worst criticism is that she hasn’t done her research. I’m not sure I could name a public figure who is more substantive when it comes to discussing climate change than Greta Thunberg. In fact most of her message is just reciting statistics, and stating that the current international government response is inadequate.

She just wants attention.

“‘When I am around too many people, I just shut off my brain, in a way to not get too tired, because I cannot take everything in,’ she told me. ‘It’s hard to be the center of attention; I don’t like that. I have to tell myself it’s for a good cause.’”

Accusing a kid with Asperger’s of either not doing their research, or wanting to be the center of attention is a tough sell for me.

(Moving on to better criticisms.)

She doesn’t know how the world works.

I think it’s fair to say she doesn’t have a holistic, compelling, and coherent social change theory, possibly because she is a teenager. I think I was reading Glenn Beck at her age, so it would be pretty rich for me to accuse her of not reading enough Wallerstein or something.

She hasn’t done anything.

She said that although schoolchildren had been striking around the world, this “has not translated into action” from governments.

The main achievement of her movement is that it exists, and that it exists on a pretty large scale. Outside of that, not much has been materially accomplished.

  1. The people in power have done nothing, and will continue to do nothing. You should not be patient.
  2. You do not need anyone’s permission to be an activist, particularly as a young person.

She is being used.

“I honestly don’t understand why I even get invited. It feels like all they want is to be spotlighted to make it look like they care, as if they were doing something. They know what to say, they know what sells. But in fact, they’re doing basically nothing.”

Anyone who is invited to Davos, the UN, and the US Congress probably doesn’t have the most subversive message. She also met with & fist bumped this guy. Seeking allies is a complicated endeavor in this fight. If you’re too diplomatic, you won’t affect change. If you’re too subversive, you’ll be ignored.

“Sometimes it feels like we who have Asperger’s or autism are the only ones who see through the noise.”

While most of us can rationalize away climate change, Greta has to confront the issue head on. The same condition that provides clarity on climate, makes activism uniquely exhausting.

Greta Thunberg may have been the spark, but we’re the wildfire.

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