Love Her Or Hate Her, It Won’t Change The Science


Greta Thunberg did not feature highly in my life.  I watched her pouty face with Trump, I watched the snippets of her tantrums on air over the state of the planet, I watched her tears and drama, but I was misled by the media.  We all were.  If you watched the documentary about it this week, you would know what I mean.

People suggested she was being used by her father, a climate obsessed activist.  Others suggested she was bred, trained, and used as a pawn to highlight disaster so we would pay carbon taxes in the coming years.

Presidents as powerful as Putin played her down.  Trump as ever used his small, ignorant mouth to bully her, one of the things he is good at.  Either way, she got the attention of both and not many do.

We were told she was autistic, self-muting for years.  We watched jokes about her on every social media platform.  Many ripped her theories to bits, however, they are not her theories.  The girl is simply obsessed with the science.

Do I like her?  I do not know her, so I cannot judge her in any way, nor is it my job to, but my bedtime is 9pm most nights, as I get up with the sunrise.  Last Monday this scrawny, pigtailed Swede had me riveted to my sofa way past my bedtime.

I tape Tommy Tiernan and Line of Duty, as they are past my watershed, but dear God this little person held my attention for the entire hour her documentary was on BBC2 last Monday.  I was glued to the sofa.

The programme was about her life, her year travelling the world with her father.  Is she an oddity?  Yes.  A rare human?  Yes.  Is her father similar?  No.  Is she media attention seeking?  In my opinion, no.  Only when she needs to get her message out there.  She is a young woman and extremely bright.  Her articulation, her English, her science, her deep serious views, are all off the scale.  Her brilliance and obsession partly come from her autism, I would guess, but she is calm, connected and a fabulous speaker, although, personally, if she were my child, I would pull her back.  She has done her job.  She has pulled off the plaster for us all and exposed the infected wound that is our world.  It is our job now to fix it.  Greta needs her life back.

She watched herself on tape having dramatic moments.  The press loved them.  “How dare you treat my planet like this” she screamed in the USA.  It got headlines everywhere, most influencers and wannabe celebrities dream about headlines, anything to get their name in lights.  She did the opposite which impressed me so much.  She was worried that the dramatic bits got 100 percent of the press attention and she instantly switched it off, deleted all the dramatic text in her speeches, as her message was getting lost in social media hype and headlines.  She stopped all the ‘headline’ stuff for this reason and continued with absolute calm and absolute science.

The TV programme was about her, indeed, but, in fact, for most of the hour she was simply in the company of scientists, biologists, professors of this and that and they were doing the talking, and the talking was shocking.

They took her to melting glaciers, they took her to towns burned out of existence in California, they took her to forests as big as Ireland being destroyed by a beetle that no longer dies of the cold, as everywhere is warming.  50 percent of the trees in this massive, massive place were eaten to extinction.  A marine biologist was interviewed about the coral reefs.  A 2 percent increase in temperature will wipe our 97 percent of these magical places, abundant with life.  No drama, no hysterics, just science.

The professors and scientists did most of the show.  She asked some simple, childish questions.  I was surprised at her deference to them.  This was definitely not the Kardashians, this was not about her.  This was absolutely about our home, our earth, the science of it.

This thin, wan, pigtailed girl mobilised an army bigger than any ever mobilised.  She does not use the usual trappings of drivers, diesel guzzling Land Rovers and flights burning holes in the ozone layer, or 5-star hotel rooms, make-up, hair etc.  She is true to herself but 183 days on the road obviously took its toll on her.

It showed her arriving home to her dogs and weeping with the emotion of their reunion.  If she were mine, I would be asking to end to her journey, as she needs to hand over the baton.  This girl has done her job.  Her little shoulders are not strong enough to fight all the CEOs draining the fossil fuels from the earth for profit, decimating villages, wildlife and people to set up oil refineries for massive profits.  She is not strong enough to rescue the small black children in pits in Africa scraping for cobalt and ore for our latest iPhone and car batteries.

Greta has done more than any of us to highlight the fragile future of the little blue dot that we live on.  Take her or leave her, criticize her, bully her, laugh at her, or listen to her.  Next week on BBC2 at 9.30 pm she meets the great David Attenborough.  I doubt he meets many people these days, but he has found time for Greta.

I am doing a course at the moment and I listened to an anthropologist saying that the human is built for greed and with no vision of long-term, only short-term accumulation of wealth and material stuff.  That is all fine, as we buy more cars, book more holidays, and keep eating meat, as long as we know there will be no planet for our grandchildren.  It is one or the other.

Personally, I think we all need to find time to listen to this unusual human being.  Maybe Mother Earth sent her with this message.  Maybe the angels sent her, or maybe she is just braver than the rest of us, although just as ordinary.

She is astounding in this series.  I suggest you are sitting waiting for her next week.  It is the very least we can do to help her carry the weight that is on those young shoulders.  Greta for President?  No thank you.  She needs a life.  But Greta for a medal of gratitude for all she has done for each of us?  Definitely.  An extraordinary child/girl/woman in my mind, designed by Mother Nature to carry a message to us.  We would be very foolish not to listen.


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