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 you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.
Shame is a useful emotion.
When the space around us falls quiet, a private voice notes, firmly, that a mistake has been made. We played a part in that mistake – too much, too little – and, now, correction, redemption, is required.
No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, published by Penguin Books in May, collects eleven of Greta Thunberg’s lionised climate change speeches (including one Facebook post) since September 2018. Her staple sermon opens, matures, as Greta plays with new metaphors and tests them for impact, but it remains grounded in fact: burning fossil fuels must stop, our current political approach does not work, and you – we, all of us – are not acting as though this is the crisis science repeatedly proves it to be.
There is a chance (like there is a minute chance of finding cheese on the moon we may soon be forced to inhabit) that climate change will be solved by Greta’s critics: pondering a ‘fear mongering‘ schoolgirl, nominated for a Nobel peace prize; asking ‘on what basis?‘ someone like Greta (16-years old) claims to speak for future generations; perhaps, Greta recalls, by calling her ‘retarded, a bitch and a terrorist’. Alternatively, we could try the book’s suggested method: demonise and banish the brittle husks of media and political rhetoric, learn about solutions that already exist, embrace the shame of our collective inaction, then collectively demand change. No One is Too Small to Make a Difference covers the shame part. The rest is up to us.
8 / 10 – in my context: i wrote a letter after reading Greta’s book, and posted it (yes, in a postbox) to activists & politicians i believe are sympathetic to the climate change crisis. my rating respects the book as a collection that symbolises the repetitive, rephrasing process of communicating the crisis. i’d had a quiet morning before i read the book and wrote this short critique, then the letter – it kindled a warm contentment i hadn’t felt for some time, so i took advantage. ‘do they hear us?’ we’ll see soon enough. also, while i continue to learn how to critique books properly, i suppose my enjoyment comes from thinking about and finding a book’s place in the world.