‘Fairy tales of eternal economic growth’
One of the most compelling speeches of all time, was that made by Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old activist from Sweden, on September 23, before world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York. She articulated what so many of us feel about the recklessness and dire indifference in responding to the greatest crisis humanity is facing – climate change.
With pain in her heart, she chided the political leaders for the gross inaction on stopping climate change.
“My message is that we’ll be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare 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!”
Greta’s words pierce the heart. Who would not be moved are perhaps those who fail to look beyond personal interests, forgetting the millions of children and their children who would suffer the most from our collective inaction and amnesia.
On September 20, millions were in the streets all over the world calling for swift climate action during the Global Climate Strike which Greta started in August last year. The protesters include those in Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Koronadal, Bacolod, General Santos, Tacloban, Antipolo, Pampanga and Bulacan.
Here in Cebu, and in some places, we have our own demons to face. The Build Build Build Program is used as an excuse to cut trees and mangroves for road expansion and so-called flood mitigation measures. What an irony as trees and mangroves reduce pollution and absorb carbon dioxide which contributes to the climate crisis. Moreover, public participation as required by our laws, is dispensed with, a gross violation of our right to be informed and to participate in decision-making as corollary to the right to a healthy environment.
Let us all reflect on Greta’s parting words to the leaders:
“You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.
We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
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