My name is Greta Thunberg, I am 16 years old and I’m from Sweden. I am grateful for being with you here in the USA. A nation that, to many people, is the country of dreams.
I also have a dream: that governments, political parties and corporations grasp the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis and come together despite their differences – as you would in an emergency – and take the measures required to safeguard the conditions for a dignified life for everybody on earth.
Because then – we millions of school striking youth – could go back to school.
I have a dream that the people in power, as well as the media, start treating this crisis like the existential emergency it is. So that I could go home to my sister and my dogs. Because I miss them.
In fact I have many dreams. But this is the year 2019. This is not the time and place for dreams. This is the time to wake up. This is the moment in history when we need to be wide awake.
And yes, we need dreams, we can not live without dreams. But there’s a time and place for everything. And dreams can not stand in the way of telling it like it is.
And yet, wherever I go I seem to be surrounded by fairytales. Business leaders, elected officials all across the political spectrum spending their time making up and telling bedtime stories that soothe us, that make us go back to sleep.
These are “feel-good” stories about how we are going to fix everything. How wonderful everything is going to be when we have “solved” everything. But the problem we are facing is not that we lack the ability to dream, or to imagine a better world. The problem now is that we need to wake up. It’s time to face the reality, the facts, the science.
And the science doesn’t mainly speak of “great opportunities to create the society we always wanted”. It tells of unspoken human sufferings, which will get worse and worse the longer we delay action – unless we start to act now. And yes, of course a sustainable transformed world will include lots of new benefits. But you have to understand. This is not primarily an opportunity to create new green jobs, new businesses or green economic growth. This is above all an emergency, and not just any emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.