Lauren R. Stevens: Rather than 'chill,' Thunberg speaks truth on climate

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WILLIAMSTOWN — After the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg gave an impassioned speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, tweeted: "She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!" After which Thunberg adjusted her on-line biography: "A happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future."

After Time Magazine announced, December 11, that Thunberg had beat out Trump to be its Person of the Year, Trump tweeted: "So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old-fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!" Following the President's tweet, Thunberg again updated her biography: "A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old-fashioned movie with a friend."

It was hardly a fair match up, a 16-year-old girl with Asperger's Syndrome taking on a 12-year-old boy who, by a peculiar chain of events, happens to be president. What chance does he have against someone who is bright, able and regards her Asperger's as her "Superpower"?

Still, in an attempt to be fair, we turn to First Lady Melania Trump's Be Best initiative. According to the White House: "Mrs. Trump believes that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce to them that [sic] when they are using their voices — whether verbally or online — they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion."

Could Thunberg possibly have considered Trump's tweets as sarcastic, even an attack? The president's tweets in this case are "perfect," as he himself might say, displaying compassion and respect, urging treatment for her disorder and advising relaxing entertainment. Surely, we as adults should reinforce his concerns for the young woman's well being. Surely.

In this case, though, we're going to have to side with the teenager, even if in her responses to the president's concerns she seems to have picked unfairly on him, maybe even making fun of him. Swinging the decision her way is the First Lady's call for wisdom, which we have to say is wholly on Thunberg's side. She has demanded that world leaders, including the 12-year-old, take on the challenge of climate change. The boy president pretends the problem doesn't exist and does all he can to undermine attempts to mitigate it.

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To us, it seems that the wise position is to try to save the creatures, plants and animals including humans, who live upon the earth. What other choice have we?

In his response to climate change, as well as to numerous other concerns, the president's words and deeds are not even appropriate for a 12-year-old, lacking as they do any degree of empathy or even the ability to focus on anything other than his own immediate impulses. (We take this opportunity to apologize to all 12-year-olds, if we have implied that they are Trump-like.)

Trump seemed primarily miffed at missing out on Person of the Year: "So ridiculous." On the other hand, here's what Thunberg told world leaders at the UN: "People are suffering people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth."

Thunberg speaks truth to the world.

At least, that's how it looks from the White Oaks.

A writer and environmentalist, Lauren R. Stevens is a regular Eagle contributor.


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