The house is on fire.
Anna knows it; she can see it, smell it, feel the heat on her face.
Why won’t anyone believe her?
I first heard of Greta Thunberg when the young activist walked out of her Swedish high school and organised a strike outside Swedish parliament to raise awareness around climate change.
The protest quickly became a worldwide action, and children here in Australia were skipping school to attend local climate strikes. In November 2018 Greta got up in front of the audience at a local TEDxStockholm event and calmly explained that the world needed to start reducing our carbon emissions, now.
As the mother of two children who will need a planet to live on, her message shook me. I worried, as mothers do, about their future and I remember thinking, ‘surely this is a turning point – how can what this girl is saying be ignored?’
But it was.
When Greta hit the newspaper headlines for her frank and courageous speech to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in 2019, I thought, ‘maybe this is that catalyst for change?’
The response from world leaders seemed to be to ignore or belittle Greta, a 16-year-old girl whose only stake in the matter was her fear of living on a dying planet. Typically the social media trolls let loose with insults, with Troll-in-Chief Donald Trump also getting in on the action. Our own Prime Minister, Scott Morrison took a softer approach, doing something akin to patting the Australian public on the head and saying ‘there, there, don’t worry your pretty little heads about that mean ol’ Greta.’
Frustrated that our nation’s leaders refused to take this seriously, I wrote I Want You to Panic. I wanted to take this issue out of such a huge, often overwhelming space (the planet) and tell the story in a more personal, relatable way (a house).
All of the insults and condescending comments made to the main character in this story, Anna, are quotes of actual tweets and Facebook comments made to Greta Thunberg.
You can read it on my website here.