It’s difficult to point to a single global leader on the climate. Al Gore, former vice president of the US was one of the early climate leaders and continues to lead on the climate. Catholics (and quite a few non-Catholics, I might add), look to Pope Francis for leadership on the climate, especially due to his seminal encyclical on change change and justice, Laudato Si (see tinyurl.com/ReadLaudatoSi).
In August of 2018, a 15-year old girl from Sweden started gaining attention for her Skolstrejk för Klimatet (school strike for the climate) in front of the Swedish parliament. Her dogged determination, impeccable knowledge of the science, and urgent call to action was a wake up call for us all. Since her start in 2018, Greta has spoken to the UN, the World Economic Forum at Davos, the EU, the British Parliament and the US Congress, as well as many other venues. Time magazine named Greta Person of the Year in 2019.
In April of 2019, Greta Thunberg and Pope Francis met at the Vatican. You can watch their encounter at tinyurl.com/PopeMeetsGreta. Greta thanked the Holy Father for “standing up for the climate and for speaking the truth”. Pope Francis told Greta to “continue to struggle; continue”. I just hosted a meetup where we watched and discussed Greta’s speeches and videos. You can watch a recording of the meetup and learn more of this amazing young woman at drawdownseattle.org/conversations.
I, of course, welcome leadership on climate action from all, but leadership from young people is especially apropos because it is Greta’s generation, as well as those who come after her, who will suffer the most from the effects of my generation’s inaction. Young people who are reading this, please get involved in saving the planet. We need your energy and your resolve. One place to start is Climate Covenanant’s youth program at catholicclimatecovenant.org/program/YYA or perhaps the Sunrise Movement at sunrisemovement.org.
Thank you, Greta, for leading with the truth. I’d like to leave you with a quote from Greta’s speech to the World Economic Forum in January, 2019:
“Adults keep saying ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope, I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire. Because it is.”
Working together, we can help take care of our common home.