16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke to the leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23rd to address her concerns about what has and will become of the planet if the emission that causes the warming of the planet is to continue.
In her speech she says:
"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."
This speech came after student-led strikes by several high school-aged children around the world, three days before world leaders were to meet in New York for a Climate Summit. A strike in which Thunberg, herself, started in August of 2018. Thunberg is currently taking a one-year sabbatical from school to attend conferences and meetings with policymakers and the people who are impacted by climate change.
Here are just a few takeaways from her speech:
1. We already reached an irreversible point of global warming
Now, it's just a matter of when it goes from bad to worse. Even if we cut our emissions in half, in the next 10 years (a popular idea), it will only give us a 50 percent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees Celsius. If we do, it's hard to imagine what potential feedback loops or other cataclysmic things could happen as a result.
One of the ways to try to combat this (because let's face it, the chances that this will be completely fixed are not that high) is to rely less heavily on fossil fuels and more on renewable or sustainable energy.
2. The emphasized importance of scienceGiphy
The science is all there, now its just a matter of following it and understanding what it means.
3. The role of developed countries in tackling climate change
Developed countries are at the point where many of them have the resources to tackle climate change. So, why aren't they? The first thing is to limit the usage of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas.
4. The personal actions that we can take (as individuals)
There are actually a lot of things that we, as individuals, can do (and while recycling is a good start, it's not the only thing). Start simple and use energy wisely. Not only does it save money, but it helps the planet too. Here's a list of 10 more things that you can do.
5. We are hurting future and current generations with how much is being pollutedGiphy
But, the younger generations are starting to have a better understanding of what is happening. In fact, along with Thunberg, 15 other children planned to sue five different countries over the climate crisis.
Carl Smith is just one of those young people. He explains how warming has imperiled the subsistence hunting and fishing that his community depends on and blames the inaction on greed.
"I think they're acting slowly because they don't want to lose money," Smith said. "And I think they should go see what [climate change] is doing to little villages and cities.
Some people say, "Well, she's only 16 and doesn't really know much yet," and in some ways they are right. Going along with that, most of her speech was almost all worst-case scenarios, but she does make a few good points.
Her message was clear though: "We are watching you. If you chose to fail us, we will never forgive you,"
So, what are the UN leaders doing about it now?
According to the main press release made by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, getting out of coal is a priority, as well as following up commitments made during the summit. Some of which included conserving 30 percent of the Earth's land and oceans by 2030, maintaining the forest cover of Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic, and several other countries thus allowing the Central African rainforest to continue to provide livelihoods of 60 million people and maintaining regional rainfall patterns in these areas.
They also plan to commit to the strengthening of the capacities in project preparation by 2030 and place climate risk at the center of decision making, planning, and investments for two thousand cities.
A full list of these commitments can be found here or at the link above.