Is Greta Thunberg’s odyssey really the climate message we want to send?
I have utmost respect for Greta Thunberg, the teenage Swedish climate activist. The way she has serenely raised the issue of climate change and braved some disgraceful vitriol from right wing commentators is laudable. She is currently taking her climate emergency message to North and South America, crossing the Atlantic in a spartan zero carbon racing yacht.
But let’s be clear: the sailing trip is a publicity stunt. If Thunberg doesn’t want to fly to the US to talk climate change, she doesn’t have to go at all – she could appear via a video link. If the voyage is all about attracting attention to the climate cause, then we have to ask ourselves: what message does it get across? Is two weeks of defecating in a blue plastic bucket and eating rehydrated food really the vision of a low carbon world we want to pitch to the rest of the world?
As always in engaging people in Sustainability, talking to people outside the green movement is hugely more important than talking to ourselves. I do fear the placing of Thunberg’s voyage on such a high pedestal is symptomatic of an inward looking movement, when we have to reach out to others.