Asian Conversations - an online magazine to explore Asia's future

Greta green for speedy climate liaisons

OCTOBER 2019: Reclusive and socially awkward Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student who suffers from Asperger syndrome, cast herself in a gritty new role as she took to the United Nations stage in September to tongue-lash worldwide leaders for their inaction on climate change. She was direct, fierce, and unrelenting. Greta did not fly to New York. She sailed the Atlantic. She has been at it since a sit-down outside the Swedish parliament a year ago and has galvanised kids with her 'Fridays for Future' calling on peaceful strikes to raise awareness.

As The Guadian writes, "A year ago, this was unimaginable. Back then, Thunberg was a painfully introverted, slightly built nobody, waking at 6am to prepare for school and heading back home at 3pm." Then she discovered her powers of persuasion, getting her mother to stop flying, and turning her dad into a vegetarian.

The Guardian feels she has been largely well received by world leaders. "Many politicians laud her candidness. In return, she listens to their claims that stronger climate policies are unrealistic unless the public make the issue more of a priority."

But this could change. The New York Times believes that her oversimplification of things poses problems. "Her politics rests on two things. First is simplification. 'The climate crisis already has been solved,' she said at a TED Talk in Stockholm this year. 'We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is wake up and change.' Second is sowing panic, as she explained at the World Economic Forum in Davos last winter."

The paper argues that some actions and approaches do not tie in with democratic norms. "Increasingly, climate agitators want action, not distraction. That often requires demonizing anyone who stands in the way... Democracy often calls for waiting and seeing. Patience may be democracy’s cardinal virtue. "

Says the BBC, "It is unusual for young people to hold the adult world to account so forcefully and so publicly and some people clearly don't like it." Donald Trump expressed his displeasure in a mocking tweet.

Al Jazeera applauds her pluck and candour. "She disdains celebrity. She makes no claim to heroism. She rebuffs efforts to idolise her. She isn't calculating or preoccupied with fame or ego. There is no artifice about her. She speaks plainly, without affectation or embroidery." – Asian Conversations