You are never too small to make a difference

Emilia Mattukat

Greta has been on strike for some time and does not go to school on Fridays. She thinks that there is little point in going to school when everything that scientists have discovered about protecting the climate and climate change is ignored in any case. Children and young people have joined her in many countries and are striking on Fridays under the motto “Fridays for Future” by not going to school either. 

“We need change and we need it now!” groups of young people call out on a Friday. And that is true, of course and it is what Greta Thunberg is working towards. “The change is coming whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.” It doesn’t really matter whether politicians like it or not, she is saying, change is already here since true power lies with us and all of us together can change things. Greta no longer puts her faith in politicians: “You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.” And it is true that the climate conference in Poland did not produce any major results. Things cannot continue as they are. And that is precisely why Greta and we, the other young people, do not have any intention of stopping again anytime soon. Because it is our future! 

“You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future in front of their eyes. It is the suffering of the many which pays for the luxury of the few.” When she was only eight years old, Greta already could not understand why no one was doing anything about climate change. She knew only that terrible things are happening in this world which, although we are aware of them, we don’t do anything about, even when we can. 

Keeping to essentials

Greta fell into depression at eleven, hardly eating and speaking. Sometime later it became clear to her that she was a person with autism. She says herself that she finds all people who are not autistic funny because, being different, she only says what is absolutely necessary. She says that other people talk about so many things that are totally unimportant. When she gives lectures, she only says what is absolutely necessary and clearly gets her message across, without great emotion, simply what needs to be said. I think that is also what makes her so admirable. 

“I don‘t care about being unpopular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.” I am completely on Greta’s side. I neither can nor want to understand where we are now, nor accept it. Our generation might also like to have children later on and provide a good future for them, just like you want to do for us now. Why, then, do you do the exact opposite and leave us a polluted planet with “plastic islands” in the oceans, poisoned food and cleared rain forests? Why do you take the most valuable nutrients out of the ground and why do you not just leave the world be? I would like to have an answer to all these questions but no one can or will give it to me. We can do with everyone on our side who is willing to help somehow still turn the situation around. For as Greta says, “you are never too small to make a difference!” 

About the author: Emilia Mattukat is 15 years old and attends the “Free Community School” in Bremen. She has an environmentally friendly vegan diet.