GRETA, GRETA, GRETA….
3,000 throats screamed their adoration for the 16-year old girl who stood before them in Denver’s Civic Center Park, blaming adults for the global climate crisis.
In September, 250,000 voices shouted similar praise at the climate strike in New York.
Around the world at 6 million people, many of them children, cut school, left work, marched, rallied to join this young woman, whose lonely courage has ignited a global crusade of Fridays For Future.
My first climate paper was in 1975, my first book on it was ’81. My hat bears the pin from Kyoto, and another from Paris. Many of my fellow climate activists, scientists, and funders are annoyed that a child is getting the attention that they never achieved.
Go Greta. We’ve failed. However hard we worked, and many of us have spent our lives on this cause, we did not stem the onset of the climate catastrophe. We knew we worked, we did everything we could think of. Yet as I write, unprecedented wildfires scorch California—the world’s fifth-largest economy now has almost 5 million people without power precisely because climate change-fueled winds threaten to down powerlines and cause such fires.
Floods, famines, extinctions, the spread of diseases are upon us, and psychologists counsel parents and kids beset by the anxiety of a future made unlivable by global warming. Teen suicides have risen 77% since 2011.
So let ‘em chant, let them blame us. The world’s scientists fly to yet another technical meeting, emitting roughly a ton of carbon for every thousand miles flown, to dolefully conclude that until the economics shift, little change is possible. Greta demands, “How dare you talk about money when my future is at stake?”
But as the rally disbanded and Greta took to her borrowed Tesla to travel to her next gig, I asked the young people leaving the rally what they would do now. “Good for you for showing up,” I told them. “But what’s next?”
Blank looks answered me. They don’t know what to do next.
“What can we do?” They asked.
Greta and the rising tide of climate catastrophes have created a teachable moment.
Now is the time to fill it, and to do so in ways that young people access information. I’ve written books all my life.
Today’s youth watch 10-minute YouTube videos.
We talked a bit about regenerative solutions to the crisis: cutting emissions, eating local food, grown in ways that put carbon back into the soil where it belongs. These are the two things our world must do to give our children a future: cut emissions, and switch to regenerative agriculture. And if we want them to happen, we have to bring this knowledge to people in the ways that they now access information. To do this NCS has joined with a team of educators and film-makers to produce short, hopeful, story-telling videos, podcasts and micro-learning units about the solutions to the climate crisis that are here, that are happening and for which the kids and their parents are hungry. We continue to teach at both the university level, and in communities. Our iMatter program helps young people in their communities evaluate and grade their own city and challenge city officials to commit to climate action plans. We advise start-up clean energy companies and help some of the biggest companies on earth implement real carbon reduction programs.
But we cannot do this alone. Someone once said to Greta, “Oh good, the children are getting active, now there is hope.”
“No,” she replied. “We’re too young. We need the adults. I don’t want your hope. I want you to act.”
I write now to ask you to act. Act in making your own home more energy-efficient. Help your community create and implement a climate action program. And please help Natural Capitalism continues to work with the youth, and get the word out to the young people crying out for answers.
L. Hunter Lovins
Professor of Sustainable Management, Bard MBA
President Natural Capitalism Solutions