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An open letter to Greta Thunberg An open letter to Greta Thunberg
by Joseph Gatt
2020-03-20 08:58:26
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Hi Greta,

First of all congratulations on all the attention you're getting for your climate change action, and protest action against climate change and for environmental protection.

You, Greta, have inspired millions of young people your age to take to the streets and protest various causes, be they environmental causes, political causes, social causes. Some demand freedom, others demand democracy, others demand human rights and dignity, and others demand better protection for the environment. And they are all your age and younger, which was unheard of a few years ago. Until a few years ago, our parents would tell us to focus on our homework rather than go out and fight for our rights.

gre001_400By leading the way to protest a cause you believe in, millions your age and younger are no longer afraid to take the streets and protest causes they believe in. You are a pioneer of that movement. You certainly deserve the Nobel Peace Prize and lots more for your initiative.

However Greta, I am famous for being straightforward and honest. When I see good I say it's good, when I see evil I say it's evil, even at gunpoint.

I see some misunderstandings and contradictions in your combat.

First off, Greta, you make it sound like 100 years ago, or 1000 years ago, or 10,000 years ago, the planet was a wonderful place to be in. Climate change involves change, and implies that things were better in the past.

Greta, when my grandmother tells me to “be careful of the wolves” or “watch our for the dogs at night” she knows what she's talking about. She's not referring to fairy tales or being delusional.

A hundred years ago, if you venture out during the day or at night, you were better off with a shotgun. Why? Not because humans were evil. But because you could get attacked by a tiger, lion, fox, wolf, rabid dog, panther, puma or any other animal at any point.

Don't get my wrong. I love animals, and I sobbed hysterically when that koala that was getting medical treatment died in the bushfires in Australia. But 100 years ago, or 1,000 years ago, the risks of getting eaten or killed by an animal were very real.

And it wasn't just Pumas and Panthers. 100 years ago, you had to be very careful about insects, yet, we had absolutely no way to protect ourselves against insects. Some insects and parasites could make you blind, could eat your flesh, could suck your blood, or could plain kill you. Now today these insects still exist, but are marginal.

Point is, 100 years ago, 1,000 years ago, biodiversity was dangerous. Today, of course we need to protect endangered animals. I want more rhinos and elephants around the world, but I was in Zambia many years ago, and was told that, in 2004, rhinos and elephants were more of a curse than a blessing, because they destroy agricultural fields and make agriculture very difficult.

Now let's look at forests. We evil men and creatures of 2020 have destroyed our forests and are not planting enough trees, right? We might soon reach desertification if we don't plant enough trees, right?

We Jews have this holiday we call Tu Bishvat, where once a year, we plant trees. This has been in our tradition for over 2,000 years. I like to plant trees symbolizing people, like to give the trees symbolic names, and I almost worship trees. I love nature.

More importantly, in the 21st century, more trees were planted around the world than trees existed for the entire lifespan of the Earth!

100 years ago. The entire world was a desert! A lot of forests were destitute, and the minute there was a drought, all the trees would die. So most forests were ugly 100 or 1,000 years ago. And if there was a fire in a forest 100 years ago, we didn't have firefighters to control the blazes.

I was at a Muslim cemetery in North Africa with a Muslim friend. It was his family cemetery. I asked him to tell me who were in the graves and what they died from. For those who died in the 1920s and 1930s, quite a few died from fires! Today people still die from fires unfortunately, but wasn't as prevalent as in the past.

Finally, since pollution is what seems to worry you so much, let's discuss that. Yes today we have high pollution levels, and yes, we use way too much polluting fossil fuels. But did you know that today (not the future, today) scientists have gradually come up with less polluting fossil fuels, such as diesel gas. People are also more careful where they throw their trash, and we have thousands of companies dedicated to recycling plastics and other pollutants. And we are not resting on or laurels, we are working on finding ways to clear the waters from plastic for example.

Now the huge opportunity we have in 2020 that we did not have in 1920 is that nature is our friend. We human beings try to protect nature, which is something that was never done, not 100 years ago, nor 1,000 years ago or 10,000 years ago. 10,000 years ago, trees were on their own and there were no veterinarians. If animals or plants were sick, they died. Nature was also a lot more savage, and many plants, animals and humans died of all kinds of diseases that don't exist today.

So Greta I'm not trolling you, I just have a more optimistic outview on life. The late President of Israel, Shimon Peres, used to say that “optimists and pessimists live different lives, but die the same death.”

So I wish you, Greta, a bright future, and wish you to fight for the causes you believe in.

Take care Greta,

Yossi Gatt

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