Sep 30, 2019
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old, delivered a short, sharp, shockwave of a speech to assembled world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23 in New York City. She called out world leaders for caring more about money than the future of the planet.
“My message is that we’ll be watching you.... You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. 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 fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!
“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away... when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.”
The science is clear. Since 1850 when worldwide records started to be kept, the last 5 years have been the hottest. In the Arctic, massive melting of the permafrost is releasing huge amounts of methane gas, a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, increasing temperatures.
Trump sarcastically tweeted in response: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.” Since Greta is someone who shrugs off personal attacks, she responded with an amusing new Twitter biography, based on Trump’s description of her, for her 2 million followers.
The sense of urgency that alarmed young people feel was evident in demonstrations worldwide that happened between Friday, Sept. 20 and Friday, Sept. 28. Young people took the lead in demonstrations in over 150 countries. An estimated 6 million people of all ages participated.
The demonstrations took place to put pressure on governments to demand concrete action. But governments have known about this for 20 years and done nothing. Governments promised to limit consumption of fossil fuels but global emissions have actually increased for the last 20 years!
The young people are absolutely right—we cannot wait. The young demonstrators are right to point out that these problems exist at the level of the planet and must be resolved collectively. The hope for the future does not lie in waiting for the capitalist powers to change their attitude. It lies in an alliance between the workers in the rich countries and the workers in the poor countries, with the youth at their side. It relies on the will to wage a struggle to bring down the profit system that is strangling the world.
Politics that look only at ecology are incapable of pulling together the only force that can destroy capitalism—the international working class. It is the only class that has no interest in a world based on exploitation — neither the exploitation of humans, nor the ruination of the natural world.