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Book Reviews

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference

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Publisher: Penguin Random House UK.  Copyright 2017-2018.  68 pages.  $8.50.


There is a New Prophet Amongst Us

I sincerely believe that American Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is the prophet that our nation needs to lead us out of the morass of dysfunction that reached its pinnacle with the election of Donald J. Trump as our 45th President.  And I have stated that Christ himself has said that a prophet is never recognized in their homeland.  Outside our homeland, there is now another prophet amongst the family of man, and she has gained worldwide recognition, at least among the youth, the scientific community, and various committees that award humanitarian efforts, most notably receiving a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.  At 15 years of age Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg exploded onto the canvas of the world stage in August 2018 when she started skipping school to conduct a one-person protest in front of Sweden’s House of Parliament to draw whatever attention she could muster concerning worldwide political (translate adult) inaction towards mitigating the effects of climate change.

Thunberg took her cue from the surviving United States’ Parkland School shooting students who were terrorized by crazed gunman Nikolas Cruz, who was one of their own, and who killed 17 students and faculty members before fleeing and being quickly apprehended by police on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018.  American politicians instantaneously prostrated themselves before the altar of “thoughts and prayers,” which the students immediately saw as the same tired old gun lobby trope which soon led to the inevitable mantra of: “Guns don’t kill people – people do.”  Knowing that people firing bullets from guns is what causes other people to die, and that if those guns didn’t discharge those bullets from those guns that those people would in fact not be dead, the young people cried foul (translate bullshit)  and refused to return to school while they called for a nationwide student walkout of classes to prompt adult attention.  So, Thunberg saw a precedent that could well garner media attention if not political action and she acted on it.  This sparked a media frenzy, and allowed Thunberg to deliver speeches across the globe which led to the publication of: No One is Too Small to Make a Difference (copyright 2018-2019). This is a tiny book that has triggered an eruption of red herrings from an adult world that didn’t want a kid (or anyone else) telling them what to do.

Thunberg openly admits that she has Asperger’s Syndrome which is akin to a mild form of autism that may or may not dissipate in adulthood.  One of the telltale signs of Asperger’s, especially among children, is a dogged  to near insatiable preoccupation with a narrow subject, which Thunberg considers to be a strength that allows her to maintain a laser focus on the subject of climate change.  Asperger’s does not necessarily impair the learning and comprehension of language, but it oftentimes leads to one-sided verbosity, but not in her case.  The speeches recorded in this book are pointed and simply-worded which has ruffled feathers, which is this young woman’s intent:

Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.”

But I don’t want your hope.

I don’t want you to be hopeful.

I want you to panic.

I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.

And then I want you to act.

I want you to act as if you were in a crisis.

 I want you act as if our house is on fire.

Because it is (p. 24).

The Parkland students that spoke out were quickly subjected to the backfire effect from right wing media, gun nuts, and  the naysaying American Republican Party, and so too was Thunberg lambasted by conservatives across the globe, but she saw their vacillation, redirection, and the “everybody’s doing it” excuse for what it is and called it out saying:

Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we all have created.  But that is just another convenient lie.  Because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame (p. 17).

Those that were most to blame embarked on a smear campaign designed to discredit her as rude and sarcastic to the point of accusing her of being nothing more than a petulant child; and on occasion she was certainly capable of coming off as all three.  It should be noted, however, that Asperger’s causes those who have it to be bluntly direct in what they say, and just because someone is sarcastic does not preclude that they are right.  Her point is that while the future will be lived by her generation and their children and grandchildren to come, the quality of their lives will be predetermined by the adults who are now in power and she doesn’t mince words in apprising them of that very fact:

The future of all the coming generations rests on your shoulders.

Those of us who are still children can’t change what you do now once we’re old enough to do something about it (p. 4).

The window for being able to do something about climate is rapidly closing and is predicted to slam shut in ten years, after which time the tipping point will have been tripped and the effects and consequences  will be irreversible. The theory of the seven generations could well not apply anymore because there may not be that many generations left to apply it to.

If you care about the fate of our planet and the future generations to occupy it (or not), this is a must read.


John C. Krieg (USA)

John C. Krieg is a retired landscape architect and land planner who formerly practiced in Arizona, California, and Nevada. He is also retired as an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist and currently holds seven active categories of California state contracting licenses, including the highest category of Class A .

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