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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 8/29/19

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Arrives in NYC to Fight "Biggest Crisis Humanity Has Ever Faced"

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AMY GOODMAN: Greta Thunberg was welcomed Wednesday by hundreds of young climate activists. One of them asked Greta how old she was when she became an activist.

GRETA THUNBERG: I first heard about I found out about this issue when I was maybe 7, 8 or 9 years old. And then I realized that, oh, this is actually very bad. And I started to read about it more and more. And when I became maybe 11, I became depressed. And the climate crisis was a huge cause of that, and because I just felt that everything is hopeless and there's nothing we can do and no one is doing anything.

But then I sort of got out of that depression by promising myself that I'm going to do everything I can to change things. And that is what I tried to do. And I started to go to marches and demonstrations and to join organizations and things like that. But I still thought things were too slow, that nothing was really changing. So I was desperate, in a way, to try to do something, just anything. And then this idea of school striking came up. And then I thought, yeah, I might just as well try that and see if it works. And if it doesn't, then I will try something else. And then I did it, and then it became huge very quickly.

AMY GOODMAN: Greta Thunberg was then asked about her plans through December.

GRETA THUNBERG: I am definitely coming to Chile, as it looks now. And I am going to try to get there, of course, without flying, so there will be a lot of trains, buses, and probably even sailing, as well. I will figure that out as time goes by. And from COP25, I expect I mean, that must be some kind of breaking point. This United Nations Climate Action Summit in September now and the COP25, these two have to be a tipping point. " I and many people with me are going to try to do everything we can to make sure that the world leaders have all eyes on them during these conferences, so that they cannot continue to ignore this.

AMY GOODMAN: With that, Greta Thunberg left the stage to rest, she said. Again, on Friday, she'll be outside the U.N., joining young climate activists protesting around the climate. And then the major September 20th climate march, she'll participate in New York, a U.N. Youth Climate Summit on September 21st at the United Nations, and then the major U.N. climate summit in New York on September 23rd. She'll go through the Americas and end up at the COP25, the U.N. climate summit in Santiago, Chile, in December. Democracy Now! will be there covering the summit.

After Greta Thunberg spoke, we were able to catch up with her father, Svante Thunberg, whom we first met last year in Poland at the U.N. climate summit. I asked him about Greta's decision to make this trip by sailboat.

SVANTE THUNBERG: It's amazing to have arrived in New York. So, we've made a special journey, a very it's been a huge opportunity. I mean, since Greta decided that she wanted to sail, that was the way she wanted to do it. I mean, you cannot win. She sort of says, you know, "I'm going to be hated, whatever I do, and someone's always going to find fault in whatever I do. But, you know, this is my choice." And this is the compromise she was going to go with. Then she decided, then it's no stopping her. I mean, we and she feels very completely at ease, you can tell. And once we got to the boat, she was, I mean, completely calm all the time. I was freaking out a little bit, I must admit.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain why she took a boat.

SVANTE THUNBERG: Well, she didn't want to fly, because if she would have flown, you know, people would have come down on her for that.

AMY GOODMAN: Because of the carbon footprint.

SVANTE THUNBERG: Yes, of course, and for being a hypocrite. And then we looked at freighter ship travel, which also, I mean, some people would say, would argue, is a better choice. But then again, I mean, the emissions from the freighter ship boats are enormous, so she would be enormously hated for that, too. So then she landed on the sailing idea. And we tried so many different sailing boats, because they're not very easy to find, but also a lot of them use a lot of diesel to make these trips, huge amounts of diesel. And then we were offered this trip, and she sort of said, "Yeah, this is how it's going to be done." And --

AMY GOODMAN: Why does the boat consume so little energy?

SVANTE THUNBERG: Well, because they're very keen on it. I mean, the crew are very active on the subject. They really fight for the climate, and they really are involved in the climate movement. So, I mean, they fitted the boat with solar panels and hydropower, which is the only one of its kind. I mean, there's literally no other boat that can do that. There might be some private small boats, you know, but they all take probably like three months to cross the Atlantic. And so, they came to us. And that was also a very important thing. So, I mean, they believed in what she was doing.

And once we got going, she was completely at ease. And that was amazing for me to see. And then, of course, I felt at ease. And we had, you know, a great time in this sometimes very crazy environment of this boat, which is incredibly fast. It goes up to 30 knots, which is hard to imagine. And you try to sleep inside of that. It's like I don't know. It's a surreal experience. We tried to film it, but you can't. You cannot sort of fathom. You cannot. It's just it's just you have to do it. And the sound is completely mad. Completely mad. But she kept ... she fell asleep straightaway. And she ate, watched the ocean. And we were just happy. So, it was a great, great time.

AMY GOODMAN: Svante Thunberg is the father of Greta Thunberg. He made the ocean voyage with her. When they landed, Greta was greeted by over a hundred American climate youth strikers. I spoke with Xiye Bastida, one of the organizers of Fridays for Future New York City, but began by asking her fellow activist, 14-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor, what kind of response their strike has received.

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