If you could teach Greta Thunberg one thing, what would it be?

By October 14, 2019Current

TL;DR – “I want to make her angry.”

Surely by now you would have read or heard of Greta Thunberg, even if you have not yet watched her famous How dare you speech at the Climate Action Summit 2019 last month.

Greta said with tears in her eyes, and her voice almost quivering as she made her very impassioned speech,

“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean.” 

“Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

Greta Thunberg, the new poster child of climate change activism.

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist.

Greta Thunberg, the young lady whom many adults were quick to diss, whom some grown men were accusing of being just a puppet.

By the way, these accusations are not new, and she has clarified on this issue earlier this year.


I remember being intrigued enough to watch the speech, read up about her and I even watched her TED talk where she shared how it all started for her.

If you could teach Greta Thunberg one thing, what would it be?

And I remember asking myself what I was doing when I was a 16-year-old.

Guess I am too old to remember exactly what, but I suppose that should be my GCE O levels year and I know for sure I wasn’t reading up about world affairs or issues like world hunger like Greta is devouring all the news and information about climate change. Heck, she’s even going out, organising strikes and crossing oceans to create more awareness about the urgency of it all.

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If I were back to my 16-year-old self, I’m actually not at all sure that I would have anything useful or constructive to share with Greta, let alone to teach her something.

From one 16-year-old Singaporean girl to Greta Thunberg

Here in Singapore is another 16-year-old Christine Li.

From what I can see of her writing and her sharing on Quora, Christine is an unusually bright and mature young lady with seemingly very diverse interests and a gift with the pen. Oops, it’s the digital age now, so I guess I should say she has a gift with the keyboard? Yes, this girl can pen a mean post or Quora answer.

She has chalked up over 1.5m views on Quora and is also one of the popular Q&A platform’s top writers in 2018. I’m more than double her age and cannot lay claim to anything even remotely close, hurhur.

Curious what our very own 16-year-old young lady has to say in response to the 16-year-old Swedish young lady? I reached out to Christine for permission to republish her Quora answer on the topic. Thanks Christine!

First published on Quora in answer to the question:

If you could teach Greta Thunberg one thing, what would it be?

Let’s pretend I have 5 minutes with her to teach her a good lesson.

I would park her in a chair and show her this video: The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes.

It was 1992. This girl was Severn Suzuki, and she was twelve when she addressed the UN.

“Coming up here today, I have no hidden agendas. I am fighting for my future. Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come.”

Sound familiar?

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“In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rain forests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder of they will even exist for my children to see. Did you have to worry about these things when you were my age?”

I’m getting that uncomfortable feeling I get when I hear Greta speak-

“Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying ‘everything’s going to be all right’, ‘it’s not the end of the world’, and “we’re doing the best we can’. But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities?”

This was a solid 28 years ago. Almost 3 decades. We are still worrying, because people don’t care.

I don’t think I need to teach Greta Thunberg anything. In fact, I find the whole premise of this question extremely pompous- like she’s a child that needs to be taught a jolly good lesson about not running her mouth with the adults.

Greta Thunberg giving a speech on Climate Change at the Climate Action Summit 2019 (via)

But if I had to teach Greta Thunberg anything, it’d be to never give up. To continue being passionate and angry, and to keep making people uncomfortable, to put them on the spot, to make them look in the mirror and be filled with shame.

I am 16. In school, we talk about whether we should have children- whether it’d be fair to bring them into a world that is dying. We are asking if the world is even habitable at this point. We can’t even start talking about quality of life.

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Maybe they will never get to run in the rain. Maybe it will all be acid.

Maybe they will never get to run and play in the fields. Maybe it will be too hot.

Maybe they will never be able to leave the house without a mask. The air will be too polluted.

Maybe polar bears will be a myth, like dinosaurs are. Maybe my daughter will only ever be able to hear about polar bears from me, and she will imagine how they look like in her mind.

I go on Quora and I see people talking about how she was paid to push a liberal agenda, that people are already trying enough. I feel disheartened. I feel frustrated. I feel a little like screaming. I feel so desperate. I wonder how Greta can bear to do this day after day, even as the leader of the free world ridicules her.

POTUS Donald Trump’s tweet about Greta Thunberg (via)

I wonder how she can carry herself with grace as she fights for her generation, my generation, because it must be exhausting and tiring to find out that the adults that are supposed to be the pillars of our world are not failing at helping us. They are actively looking away.

Why would I show her this video? To make her angry. To fire her up whenever she feels weary. To enable her to use her anger as a positive force, and continue fighting for her generation- my generation.


(Featured image via)


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The Editor

Author The Editor

Either busy trying to save the world, or poking my nose into other people's affairs.

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