Greta Thunberg's address to the heads of state gathered for the climate summit at the UN on 23 September sounded like a cry. At the age of sixteen, in tears but above all in rage, the girl who has become the symbol of the youth climate movement has uttered the cry of a generation. A cry in the face of a world that is melting, burning, extinguishing life. An unbreathable world. The cry of millions of young people all over the world who are rising up against guilty inaction. How far will they cry out so that we can hear them?
Those who have seen Greta Thunberg's message broadcast on television channels around the world will no doubt be shared. How can this scowling kid talk like that to heads of state, to adults? Some may even say to themselves in peto -If I were her parents, I would give her a good beating and take her back to school whether she wanted it or not. What kind of world do we live in?! « It's up to adults to save the world that's coming, not children." catch fire ...the philosopher and former minister-star of the Plateau Luc Ferry.
Others, on the contrary, will look at this message, dumbfounded and moved by such a mark of courage and passion in such a young and apparently fragile being. None will remain indifferent, without really understanding why. Because this cry is much more than a blow of anger or a grandstand effect. It is the cry of a generation against the generation before it. Young people are teaching the elders a lesson and blaming them for the world they are leaving behind. In this sense, this reversal of the meaning of things is undoubtedly unprecedented in the history of mankind.
Five thousand cities, 160 countries, millions of young people took to the streets, together, on the same day, in the four corners of the world. With the same words in their mouths: the climate, the planet, life, chanted in every language. A generational insurgency, mostly good-natured, but firmly determined to make itself heard. What are they saying? That they care about the world that adults have destroyed and continue to destroy. That the offspring are mobilizing to care for a world that adults are proving incapable of respecting and protecting. A reversal of the sense of responsibility and the very notion of protection. All adult animal species possess the instinct to protect their offspring; never or hardly ever the other way around. The cry of Greta and the young people she inspires is worth listening to because it calls into question the adult we should be.
Greta Thunberg suddenly appeared on the media scene in August 2018. At the age of 15, she was haranguing Swedish politicians in their parliament against climate inaction. « You adults don't care about my future. "she was already shouting. « What's the point of going to school if there's no school tomorrow? "a question that many heard. His idea of a children's climate strike will be followed everywhere. Millions of young people will relay his message and carry his word. Greta will appear, like spontaneous generations, of all colours and countries. Children who are challenging adults, but above all children and teenagers who suddenly understand that the world is governed by adults and that these adults have Trump, Bolsonaro, Erdogan faces... Adults who claim that climate change is a hoax or a Marxist plot. Adults who promise but don't deliver. Adults hampered by weight, short-term economic constraints and convoluted financial calculations. Adults who simply don't measure up to the stakes. These are the adults who control the world. And there is cause for concern.
Why not enjoy unlimited reading of UP'? Subscribe from €1.90 per week.
Back home, these children and teenagers who screamed in the street are watching other adults. They worry about the bills they have to pay at the end of the month, wonder what they're going to watch on TV tonight or throw in their choice of their next mobile phone. Meanwhile the children see that the Amazon is burning, thousands of species are disappearing, the air is getting harder to breathe, drinking water is running out. They know the warnings of the scientists; they read, they talk to each other, they share. And they see these adults who continue to live as if everything was fine, taking their cars or planes, going on mass holidays, happily rotting the environment. What they also see is that at a time when the planet most needs cooperation between states and alliances between governments, the opposite is happening. Adult peoples elect either populist puppets who block progress or incompetent, short-sighted opportunists. For our offspring, the point of no return is reached.
" Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to assume the responsibility that they should have assumed long ago "The young Greta was chanting last December at the climate summit in Poland. These young people are anything but naive. They know that they will not be able to take the reins of states, let alone the world. They have to deal with the adults, they have to goad them, harass them, grill them, take them to court, and occupy the political space to make things happen.
Contrary to what President Macron says, these youth climate movements are not " nice ». They are very serious and that's the way to take them. They are saying something that needs to be heard. They are reversing the polarity of responsibility between an adult and a child. They are telling us about their world. The one that comes. They no longer trust the adult generations to take responsibility for it. A broken bond, the consequences and effects of which no one today can predict.