I want to start by saying how much I admire Greta for having the courage at 16 to voice her opinions. However, being 16 doesn't stop these opinions from being critiqued and we shouldn't not criticise people who do this just because she is 16. She has put her views on the world stage; it is expected people will disagree.
Greta got up on the stage at the UN and said that her childhood and dreams had been taken away and that was the fault of the adults. That we were being failed by those of older generations. That if they didn't act now, we would never forgive them.
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Firstly, how about all of those of generations past who have allowed people like Greta and I to have the childhoods we have had? Our great grandparents dealt with World War I and the Great Depression. Our grandparents dealt with World War II. Our parents grew up in the midst of the Cold War where there was a threat of nuclear annihilation for a long time.
They didn't send themselves into a state of panic and anxiety over it, they simply got on with life.
What would our childhoods have looked like if the Germans had won World War II? What would they have looked like if communism had prevailed and the Eastern Block had not fallen over? Even more close to home, if it weren't for Kate Sheppard women wouldn't have the right to vote, it is because of the work done by her and many other women that Greta and I can get educated and have our opinions respected.
Every generation has its struggles and to blame one that has gone for the present struggle is not productive. The generations before us have all done great things, It is now our time to step up and do our part.
We should be incredibly grateful for what previous generations have done for us. If we lived in a suppressed world, the opportunity for regular citizens to have opinions and protest on climate change simply wouldn't exist.
In Greta's speech to the UN, she offered an opinion. She provided no evidence and no solutions. She said, "you are failing us, we will never forgive you". Instead of crying, Greta could have offered some solutions and taken a positive approach to the situation at hand.
Our generation should view it as a challenge to try and solve the climate change problems, not a hindrance. The mind is an amazing tool, there is no reason why we cannot work to solve this. There are already a number of things happening; the banning of plastic bags; the reduction of takeaway cups being used; an investigation into farming practices through "focus farms", an initiative set up by Dairy NZ; an increase in the affordability of solar panels has seen the ability to use them increase significantly.
While we are not set on how to handle electric cars in terms of disposing of their batteries, they still show how the human brain can work to produce things that reduce our emissions.
Finally, there is the more controversial area of GE.
There is currently a rye grass being developed that has the potential to reduce ruminant emissions by 25 per cent. This has been an area of science we have been very reluctant to get involved with; however, it could turn out to be just what we need to keep the dairy industry alive and reduce our emissions.
This then gives rise to the question; what is more important, our concerns around GE or climate change?
Greta also said that all people care about is money. Unfortunately, and no matter how much people try to deny it, money makes the world go around. Look to the Great Depression, unemployment was at 25 per cent in the US, half of the banks failed, and international trade collapsed by 60 per cent. Where would the money have been there to try to address climate change?
When the economy is weak, people are just trying to survive, they are less concerned about using a metal straw and trying to develop technology. Hyundai Motor Group announced in 2018 that they would invest $7 billion in the development of hydrogen-powered motor vehicles, they can afford to do this because the business is succeeding.
This is just one example of how deciding to solve climate change at the expense of everything else will not be sustainable or enable us to make any progress.
When we take a step back from all the romance around the idea of having a 16-year-old speaking at the UN and look at what she has actually done, it becomes more apparent that there is minimal there worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. If anything she has just added to the panic and chaos.
• Eve McCallum is a 19-year-old law student at the University of Otago and grew up on a family farm in Maungaturoto. She previously served as a Youth MP under Michael Woodhouse.