background image


Greta isn’t saving the planet
Sunday 29th September 2019 @ 9:49 am

Greta Thornberg is doing incredible work, but she’s not saving the planet.


Don’t mishear me – I thinks she’s great. 

I am a massive fan. I am at one time hugely impressed with her ability to capture the imagination of the globe around a vital issue, and at the same moment massively concerned about the strain and experience of global attention on a teenager with such passion for her cause.


The hate which gets directed at her is usually something that girls her age only experience on school corridors and playgrounds. In these extraordinary days Greta has been leading classes in the corridors of power and playing in the grounds of celebrity royalty.


And much of it not in her mother tongue. She is incredible. 


But she’s not saving the planet.


She is drawing attention to the plight of a natural world that is being vandalized and violated in a multitude of ways. Our dependence on fossil fuels is damaging the earth below and the sky above. Our destruction of forests and natural habitat is changing the chemical balance of the earth and the chemical balance of the sky above. Humanity’s desire for taking land, money and power wherever it can find it is leading to the prioritizing of the material over the natural. Whenever it takes a teenage girl with Aspergers (I love those who describe her Aspergers as her super power) to create the sort of popular movement we have witnessed over the last few weeks, we should be impressed that she managed it at all and we should be incredibly reflective that she had to do it.


I cannot help but be struck by the photographs of her sitting outside the Swedish parliament a little over a year ago – alone.

Compare and contrast fourteen months later, and photos of her in front of hundreds of thousands of people joining her in protest.


It’s incredible.

She’s incredible.

She’s not saving the planet tho.



This planet has been here roughly 4.5 billion years – in a universe that has been here roughly 13.7 billion years. 

Humanity – or more specifically, our human–type ancestors – have been here for roughly 200 000 years.

It has not taken us long to make our mark. The planet went through a lot before we got here.


A lot.


The Judeo–Christian creation myths make it clear this earth is good and we are responsible for looking after it. These narratives are literary liturgies, not scientific texts. They speak of goodness, variety, multiplication, wonder, miracle and majesty in majesty in creation –

there is a sacredness to creation that humanity is invited to honour, cherish and look after.


And Greta is focusing our attention right back to it.


But she’s not saving it.


The planet has been here a long long time. It has shown remarkable resilience. And it will probably continue to do so. This planet will probably be here a long long time.


But we may not be.


And that’s what Greta is saving. She may not be saving the planet, but she may be saving humanity’s place on it.


The earth will most likely keep going after extinction level events for humanity. Even in the worst final analysis where some might say:

‘Ok, the poor will be decimated first, but the rest of us can keep on keep on going using the resources …’

even that, on the same rational argument, will end. There is not continual, unending, never depleting resource. Everything is not infinite.


Might it be the issue is not what will happen to the earth, rather what will happen to us?


We may be the ones to become extinct.


We could be the extinction.


This planet will not explode, (for another few billion years anyway), but we might so utterly destroy it that we come to a place where the extent of the damage we have inflicted means we destroy ourselves.


Greta is not saving the planet, she’s actually drawing attention to issues that could save humanity … and in doing so, she might be a whisper from the Spirit of God calling the world to sense.



To leave a comment, click here