On Tuesday, speaking before the European Parliament, Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg, 16, lectured European politicians about climate change with apocalyptic passion, saying, "I want you to panic."
Thunberg stated, "I want you to act as if the house is on fire. I have said those words before, and a lot of people have explained why that is a bad idea. A great number of politicians have told me that panic never leads to anything good, and I agree. To panic, unless you have to, is a terrible idea. But when your house is on fire and you want to keep your house from burning to the ground, then that does require some level of panic …”
She warned, “Around the year 2030, ten years, 259 days, and ten hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction that will most likely lead to the end of our civilization as we know it. That is, unless, in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place … We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, and the extinction rate is up to ten thousand times faster than what is considered normal with up to 200 species becoming extinct every single day.”
Tearfully remarking of erosion, deforestation and toxic air pollution, loss of insects and wildlife and the acidification of oceans, she continued, “These are all disastrous trends … that we see as our right to carry on.” That prompted applause.
Thunberg said, “Our house is falling apart and our leaders need to start acting accordingly because at the moment they are not. If our house was falling apart our leaders wouldn’t go on like you do today. You would change almost every part of your behavior as you do in an emergency. If our house was falling apart, you wouldn't hold three emergency Brexit summits and no emergency summit regarding the breakdown of the climate and environment." That triggered more applause.
Thunberg opined, "New elections are coming up soon, and many of us who will be affected the most by this crisis, people like me, are not allowed to vote. Nor are we in a position to shape the positions of business, politics, engineering, media, education or science, Because in the time it takes for us to educate ourselves to do that simply does no longer exist. And that is why movements of children are taking to the streets, schools striking for the climate to create attention for the climate crisis. You need to listen to us, we who cannot vote, you need to vote for us, for your children and grandchildren. What we are doing now can soon no longer be undone."
She concluded, "It’s okay if you refuse to listen to me; I am, after all, just a 16-year-old schoolgirl from Sweden. But you cannot ignore the scientists or the science or the millions of school-striking children who are school-striking for the right to a future. I beg you: please do not fail on this."