Valentina Giannella is the author of We Are All Greta, a new book that enables young readers to understand the climate emergency, and what they can do to help.
As part of the #WeAreAllGreta blog tour running this week, My Book Corner is super excited to be hosting an exclusive extract from the book’s introduction, which explains how and why this timely book came about.
Pssst: You can also download six eye-catching posters from the publisher’s website, ready for your next school strike! Click here.
By Valentina Gianella, author of We Are All Greta: Be Inspired to Save The World
It’s Friday morning on 15 March 2019 in Hong Kong. My daughters’ school chatroom has been buzzing since dawn: dozens of colourful cartoons have appeared, with slogans sent out by #FridaysForFuture sites. Today is the day of the great global student strike organized by Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old activist and, because of this work, a candidate for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. Hong Kong has woken up to a resounding response from its students. Parents and grandparents are also getting ready to take the metro to Central Station, the meeting point for the demonstration.
‘Mama, what does “climate change” mean?’ eight-year-old Agata asks me. All children ask questions – it’s their job, they have to understand how things work in the world. And now this diminutive Swedish girl, with her long braids and stern expression, has directed the attention of adults and her peers alike to issues crucial to the future of the planet, and the heads of the youngest children have been ﬁlled with questions. Global warming, the greenhouse effect, fossil fuels – what do they all mean? What are biodiversity and sustainable development? Who is studying the changes that are taking place here on Earth? Which sources are reliable? What action can I take?
The children at the junior and high schools have been informing themselves in the days leading up to the ﬁrst demonstration, searching online, reading scientiﬁc articles and questioning their teachers. They have roped in parents who have had to study just as hard to produce easy-to-understand summaries for distribution in class. It has been tricky to pick a path through the fragmented information available from media sources and the concentrated data couched in specialist terms supplied by the experts, but they have managed it: youngsters and parents have been coming together in informative chat groups and posting summaries, analyses and answers. As they march and sing their way to Government House, the seat of the governor of their city, on 15 March, the majority of the students are better informed than the adults watching them from the streets and windows.
Just as in hundreds of other cities around the world that day, the children carried placards as reminders that we must act soon because, to put it simply: There is no Planet B. One placard in particular caught my attention: My name is Greta. It was carried by a girl with a black fringe and a steady gaze, another rather serious-looking individual, just like her Swedish peer. And it wasn’t just her, it was every student at the demonstration, everyone who had studied what scientists have said for decades, who had got the message and decided to take to the streets because there was no more time: They were all Greta.
But this is not just the same old message, picked up by social media. It is not born of solidarity or of proximity but of a desire to create a new global identity. A fearless girl has awakened the conscience of an entire generation and made it concrete and visible: hundreds of thousands of young people sharing the universal principles of science, of respect, of the balance of the Earth.
We Are All Greta sets out the basic ideas required to understand climate change, explained in a scientiﬁc and accessible way and drawn from the most authoritative sources. It is for young people and for all of us, parents and grandparents, who now ﬁnd ourselves having to answer the direct and urgent questions our young people are asking about the health of our world.