Greta Thunberg and our environment – a reflection

Greta Thunberg and our environment – a reflection

 Last week’s climate and environmental events could not have been spent more differently. For while Swedish 16-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg held a speech to UN and got together with her loud cliques in New York and Montreal for a climate protest , Swedish Crown Princess Victoria brought her 7-year old daughter, Princess Estelle, out on an excursion in the Swedish woods near Hagaparken, Stockholm, spending ‘World Cleanup Day’ picking up trash left by careless visitors.

“It is very important for us all to help out and clean up our environment”, the Crown Princess said in Swedish TV . “It is a lot of trash out there”. 

I remember doing the same as a child. People visiting our beautiful island Gräsö summertime left tons of litter behind. Waiting in line in their vehicles to take the ferry over to the mainland, for example, they not only left their cars run idle, they also threw out their trash. Used dipers, beer cans, candy wrappers and other more unmentionable trash littered our roads, woods and beaches. 

The answer to this environmental hazard was to let the school children in grade 1 to 6 on the island — all 50 of us — yearly spend a so called “sports day” picking up litter. It was disgusting. Still, we learned a lesson these warm and smelly September days — the importance of being a good steward of our environment. To this day I never let my car run idle – not even in 100 degree Texas heat –  litter or let my shower run on full capacity when shampooing my hair.

Greta Thunberg and her school friends have learned how to protest, create hashtags and take selfies with politicians and celebrities.  In New York, Greta urged the world to ‘wake up’ saying that we are facing the biggest human crisis ever.  

 ” This is not something you can package and sell or ‘like’ on social media”, she said in her speech

Kind of ironic for a girl whose road to celebrated climate hero never would have happened if not for social media. On page 224 in the book ‘Scener ur Hjärtat’ (Scenes from the Heart) written by Greta, her dad Svante Thunberg, mom Malena Ernman and sister Beata, it is pointed out how powerful a little girl with an Instagram account and a picture of a polar bear would be. “ A defender of our security as efficient as all the world’s armies put together”. Exactly how the family planned to achieve this goal is explained in the the second edition of the same book.

 It starts early on August 20, 2018, only 3 days before the launch of the book ‘Scener ur Hjärtat’ (Scenes from the Heart). Greta bicycles to the Swedish Parliament with her dad following close behind carrying her homemade cardboard box sign. Once situated outside the Parliament Greta asks people walking by to take her picture and share it on social media. One of the people that are happening to walk by this day is PR-expert and entrepreneur Ingmar Rentzhog. Rentzhog’s tech startup ‘We Don’t Have Time’ aims to create a social media platform focused on climate change. 

Strangely enough, the journalist Anders Hellberg from the environmental magazine ‘Effekt’ also walks by the Parliament this day, followed by a documentary filmmaker. It does not stop there. All major Swedish newspapers run the story of 15-year old Greta’s spontaneous school strike for the climate. And the Swedish ambassador in Paris promotes Greta and the book (today translated into several languages) on the embassy’s Twitter feed. 

There is no doubt that Swedish politicians and Swedish mainstream media have done their best to launch Greta as the latest Swedish export product. It might be needed. Sweden, by many seen as a beacon of light and social innovation, an example on how to solve and deal with societal problems in a fair way is today plagued with rampant gang violence, a deteriorating welfare system and failure to integrate recent migrants. A parallel society has emerged and according to police reports Sweden has 60 vulnerable areas, 23 of them especially vulnerable.

So even if it is true what Greta’s mom Malena Ernman writes in the book on page 43, that Greta is one of few people (in the world) that can see carbon-dioxide emissions with her naked eye, I’m pretty sure that Princess Estelle is one girl growing up to be a good steward of the environment.

Copyright 2019, Caroline Calais. All rights are reserved


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