[OPINION] In defense of Greta Thunberg

Alex Manlapao
[OPINION] In defense of Greta Thunberg
If being dramatic means you can influence as many people as possible for a good cause, then what's wrong with that?

Social media was recently abuzz about a 16-year-old girl from Sweden who became the poster child for climate justice. Greta Thunberg recently appeared in many forms of media, capped by a no-holds-barred condemnation of the “powers that be” at the United Nations for their seeming inaction on the 11th-hour environmental crisis. (READ: ‘How dare you?’ Greta Thunberg asks world leaders at U.N.)

This earned her plenty of admiration, but also disdain and contempt. Allow me to outline some of the reasons for this ire and offer my two cents. 

Issue #1: Greta is an actress, and her tirades are for show. 

Truth be told, Greta has a Swedish director and actor for a father and an opera singer for a mother. However, she doesn’t count as an actress by profession. But if her appearances reek of theatrical gimmickry, there are two things I can say about that. 

First, if being dramatic means you can influence as many people as possible for a good cause, then what’s wrong with that? A message is often ignored if delivered by a boring messenger. Politicians and companies have been using actors and actresses to further their (sometimes selfish) agendas with amazing effects. So why not allow Greta to be dramatic in pushing for the agenda of saving our fragile Earth? (READ: [OPINION] When Greta met Gina: Save our planet)

Second, maybe she wasn’t acting at all. Maybe she was being candid and honest with her feelings because it reflects her beliefs, disappointments, and dreams. Up until now there was never any solid proof that her appearances were for show. Accusations were based on mere assumptions.

Issue #2: Greta is young and mentally ill, and was manipulated by her parents. 

Greta is on the autism spectrum. But what is not known to many is that while a good fraction of those diagnosed with autism suffer from intellectual disability, there are also people on the spectrum who are high-functioning and can integrate better into society. Sometimes, they just see things differently from the rest of us.

Maybe it’s because of her autism that Greta tends to see things as they really are, while the rest of us continue to see things as they appear or are presented to us. In fact, Michelangelo, Nikola Tesla, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Bill Gates, and Albert Einstein were said to have had some type of autism. 

So, no, Greta wasn’t manipulated by her parents. Greta’s father was quoted as saying, “Greta forced us to change our lives; I didn’t have a clue about the climate. We started looking into it, reading all the books – she has read them too.” 

Issue #3: Greta’s crusade is not backed by ‘the real science.’

This is the criticism I find most laughable. Some people think the human-triggered climate crisis is a hoax!

However, multiple researches published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97% or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. (READ: [OPINION] Why the Philippines should declare a climate emergency)

But if you are still into the business of denying that the climate crisis is caused by humans, don’t worry. You’re in good company. The Flat-Earthers got your back.

A philosopher named Blaise Pascal once waged that he would rather believe in God’s existence than not believe in it. If he were wrong, then he hadn’t much to lose. But if he didn’t believe in God and it turned out that God actually exists, then that becomes a problem of divine proportions.

What if we took care of our planet, but it turned out the climate crisis was a hoax? We don’t have much to lose, do we? But what if we stubbornly cling to the belief that the climate crisis is not caused by humans and we do nothing to help address this problem, and then it turns out climate change is real? Now this would become a problem of planetary proportions. – Rappler.com

Alex Manlapao is a professor of philosophy, ethics, humanities, and the contemporary world at Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod.

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