I see your unwavering glare, your face set with absolute determination. I hear the howling storm of indignation coming for you, for hell hath no fury like adults raging against their oncoming obsolescence. The backlash against you has been as predictable as it has been meaningless. Is it galling for those in power to be called out with such ire by the adorable little kiddies who are supposed to respect their elders? It must be, particularly when those kids absolutely refuse to coddle their egos and instead cut straight through the self-congratulatory bullshit. It’s an adult’s world, Greta Thunberg. Don’t you know you’re supposed to stay in your lane and go be a kid?
Therein lies the grotesque hypocrisy at the heart of it all – that the boomers and capitalists now burying their heads in the sand want to both have their Earth and eat it. Kids today are spoiled, self-involved, ungrateful little narcissists up to their elbows in the sort of exploitative tech and disposable consumerism that’s killing the planet, so how dare they then turn around and complain about it? The very same adults that are apparently disgusted by the shallowness of the social media age and the rampant consumption they’ve somehow blamelessly bred into their children are now appalled when a teenager from Sweden stands up and rallies against it. Kids today don’t know how lucky they are but heaven forbid they stand up and pressure their governments to make their lives less convenient for the greater good.
Then there’s the other argument – that this couldn’t possibly be coming from you, that you must be being exploited, that there is a sinister cabal of environmental lobbyists backing you up with their evil plans for stalling economic growth and plunging us all back into the ice ages. You’re just a child! How could you possibly be intelligent, conscientious and passionate, capable of making your own decisions and forging your own alliances? Only children who run away to join Isis do that. The rest are mindless babies.
But someone has to fly your boat crew back, Greta Thunberg! Look at you, eating food on a train, a train made of presumably turtle-choking plastic and hydrocarbons. You’re using a microphone! A microphone made of industrially produced components and dolphin tears! How can you preach to us, when by the very act of existing you’re such a hypocrite?
It’s the same hollow nonsense espoused by every clod-skulled idiot who thinks they’re successfully combating the message without even realising they’re shouting at a different channel. If you could do enough to change the world by living in a carbon-offset biodegradable yurt, living off organic lichen and planting a tree for every fart you accidentally released you’d do it, Greta Thunberg. The point is that wouldn’t exactly get the message across, would it?
Yes, we all need to take some responsibility for our individual actions on a micro level. If nothing else, the simple everyday actions we can all take go some way to instilling the sense of collective accountability that we all need to be feeling. Unfortunately for all that, the fact of the matter remains that we can give up all the plastic straws and go vegan twice a week as much as we like and it would remain a drop of poison in the ocean compared to the damage caused by industry and policy.
The correct response to that is not a sense of abject pointlessness. The correct response is to get angry and pile on the pressure on the dinosaurs and lobbyists who ceaselessly pursue the short-term gains throttling the planet. If their best argument is ‘but China’ then they have no fucking argument. If you pass a beating on the street, do you pile on, or do you intervene? Do you help with kicking the shit out of the hippy, or do you stand up to your own government and suggest that maybe we should do a few less of the street beatings, before we’ve all thoroughly kicked the shit out of ourselves?
Even if you’re sceptical of the climate science (and why wouldn’t you be? You don’t need a PHD to ignore facts and read Breitbart) there is absolutely no common-sense argument for continuing to rely on the increasingly finite resources our planet has offered up for our ceaseless expansion and exploitation. The shift is coming and it’s a simple matter of either taking bold decisions to act now or absolutely floundering ones to act when we have no other choice. We can continue to grease ourselves into a corner, killing off our planet’s biodiversity and ecosystems as we go, or we can do now what we’re eventually going to have to do anyway.
The only question is whether we let the roadblocks stall us. And you, Greta Thunberg? You know exactly what the roadblocks are and you know where to find them.
I see you in your iconic yellow raincoat, your boots splashing on the floor of the sewer. I hear your footsteps echoing down the tunnel, a drumbeat announcing your arrival. From somewhere far away in the dark I hear the giggling, the grotesque celebration of a creature lurking in the darkness. A creature who’s never before faced a challenger like you.
I see it, Greta Thunberg, as you emerge into the cavern of the sewer junction. I see the vortex swirling, a host of twisted faces in a slowly-turning funnel of rot and petrol and ocean plastic. I see the swarms of bees, sluggish, spiralling in their death throes as they twist and turn, born aloft not by their own wings but by the poisoned currents of the beast.
This is its true form, a geyser of tar-slicked banknotes, gouts of industrial fire flickering across its surface. I see the corpses of cormorants drifting aimlessly in the noxious air. They all float down here, Greta Thunberg.
I see the dread thing coalesce, faces bubbling out of the slick, revealing wild eyes and yellow teeth. The oilmen and politicians, sneering, snarling. They rule by fear, drawing everything around them down into the mire.
I see the corner of your mouth lift into a smirk, Greta Thunberg. I see the pinwheeling eyes considering you pause and lock for a moment, hesitant, never before confronted by a force like this.
They’ve thrown all they had at you, expecting fear as they always have. It’s not for you though, is it?
You’ve got zero fucks to give and you’ve come for all of them.
You see them, Greta Thunberg. You fucking see them.