Columnist reflects on Greta Thunberg’s speech to U.N. at Climate Action Summit

Mary Ross and Mary Ross

Greta Thunberg has been all over my Twitter feed for weeks, but since Friday, almost every other tweet I have read has been about her and her activist work to bring awareness to world leaders about the detrimental effects of climate change. During her speech to the U.N. on Monday, Thunberg had several remarkable quotes worth discussing.

“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

Especially in the United States, where we have grown to not be empathetic in many circumstances, certainly in some ways, it is easy to forget about how the changing environment is affecting people all across the world. However, if we look at our own country, think about all the horrible hurricanes that have struck the southeast United States, including Puerto Rico. Since 2017, there have been many hurricanes making landfall and a lot of people who have died. 16 people died in Hurricane Michael; an estimated 2,975 people died due to Hurricane Maria; 47 people died due to Hurricane Irma; 68 people died due to Hurricane Harvey; and 50 people died due to Hurricane Dorian. Why are there such intense hurricanes? The short answer is global warming. For more information on why global warming causes more intense storms, visit: Union of Concerned Scientists

“They also rely on my and my children’s generations sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us – we who have to live with the consequences.”

Let it be known that although each person has their own individual effects on the environment, generations before the current generation are the reason why we lead lifestyles that harm the environment more than they give back to it. Industrialization. Mass Production of Goods. Over consumption of meat and dairy products. Desire for economic growth without factoring in other results. We live in a very self-centered society, and we have to change our self-centered ways or else there will be no people left in society.

“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”

Though I was late to the party in understanding just how dangerous climate change is, I stand with Greta Thunberg. Climate change is causing intense storms, poorer quality of life and the possibility of human extinction. If you do not believe in climate change, you are part of the problem. If you are part of the problem, young adults will never forgive you for the mess you’ve made that young people will be forced to fix. If you are part of the problem, future generations, if there are any, will never forgive you, just as Thunberg stated.