Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#StevesLibrary: No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference

I’m sure you’re all aware of who Judging by the criticism levelled at who Greta Thunberg is, the Swedish climate activist who’s actions have seen similar strikes across the globe. As a conservationist, climate change not only scares me for the sake of my study species but also for myself. We’ve got less than a decade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero and invent technologies that can remove some of the vast quantities that we’ve already polluted the atmosphere with. Thunberg has been accused of fear-mongering and being a paid puppet, when I read her book (a compilation of her speeches) I don’t see that at all. It is clear to see that Thunberg is passionate about the environment not just for the sake of wildlife but also for humankind.

When Thunberg rose to prominence, she was only 16 years old. Being a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, this made her an easy target for criticism and hatred. Attention was raised as to why people should listen to a child, it’s clear Thunberg isn’t telling us anything new. Instead she is communication science to a new audience in a much more accessible way. As scientists we often forget that the wider implications of our research. It’s not just about the grants, the citations and the respect we’ll earn through completing it. Some research has huge knock-on implications for everyday life and this needs to communicated to all stakeholders. In my eyes, Thunberg is a great scientific communicator that doesn’t pull any punches.

I’m a decade older than Thunberg and in that time, I’ve gone to university, completed a Master’s degree and now I’m studying for my PhD. Her whole principle of a school strike was a clever one and may not have been a conclusion that I had drawn if I were her age. Why study for a future when that future likely won’t exist? It’s a simple question but it has a complicated answer. Our love for fossil fuels is ingrained so deeply in our culture and tied to all levels of industry. Manufacturing, transport, shipping to name a few. Each generation has to clean up the mess of the previous one and I truly believe with leaders such as Thunberg coming through the ranks, the world will be a much brighter place tomorrow as long as we can act today.

With all of this in mind, No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference is an eye opening account of Thunberg’s though processes. You can understand how she formulates arguments and delivers them. Whilst it isn’t exactly the most traditional book out there, it does provide a glimmer of hope in ongoing dark times. Hopefully governments will start to act, after all they are the ones with the power to do so. If history has taught us anything, those people that confront governments and push for change through social movements tend to be on the right side of history. I hope in the future that her actions as well as those of many others were seen as our turning point (if civilisation still exists).

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