Cosmos Café [9/24] – Who wants to save the World? (On Climate Justice)

Temporary video link:

Greta Thunberg was first mentioned the Cosmos Café back in April '19 by Davor Löffler—which was likely the first time many of us heard her name. She is a climate justice activist from Sweden, and she is 16 years old.

She first became famous in Europe by starting a movement of school walkouts to protest the inaction (or slow, compromised, hypocritical, and inadequate action) on the part of adults to address the emergency of imminent human-instigated climate change (potentially, collapse)—which threatens the future of the biosphere on which we (non-or-not-yet-post-biological) humans and countless other life-forms depend.

Now she is visiting America, and as we say, going viral. This conversation is infected and affected; it seeks to have an effect.

Her protest, like many of ours, is in some sense against the Capitalocene itself—and the elite (becoming-trans-) humans who have won this particular game, and all of us who perpetuate it. She is calling us to apply the EMERGENCY BRAKE on a runaway train.

In this Café we will hear Greta’s message—which echoes that of millions of alarmed people around that world—yet comes through crystal clear shorn of us adults’ habitual artifice, theory, and poetics—and see how we respond; how we act.

The carbon emissions of this Café will not be offset. The heat is on in the kitchen. Will we face the music of our collective future with as much clarity and determination as this young woman? What future Earth are we creating—and will we create—for our children and our children’s children, if we make so far?

Reading / Watching / Listening


"My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden.

I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now.

Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn’t matter what we do.

But I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference.

And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.

You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.

Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.

Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act.

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.

We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself.

We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.

We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time.

We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.

Thank you."


"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

"For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

"You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.

"The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius], and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.

"Fifty percent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist.

"So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences.

"To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees global temperature rise – the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] – the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on Jan. 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons.

"How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual’ and some technical solutions? With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8 1/2 years.

"There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.

"You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.

"We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.

“Thank you.”

A more cynical, yet still radical, adult’s take:

Context, Backstory, and Related topics


This is too late for me to prepare for. I will appear briefly for a few minutes and then leave to take care of other previously scheduled commitments.

Some feedback. An excellent idea. The timing sucks. Like shooting yourself in the foot and trying to run a relay race.

Thanks, Johnny for your feedback. Indeed, the timing sucks—on many levels!

But the show must go on. I have only picked up the baton where it was mindfully dropped… and figure better to keep running than stand still, looking dumb, while history looks on.

I look forward to seeing you and whoever else shows up, however briefly. We still have time—though not much—so can also continue the conversation in a future Café, if more time is needed to prepare.

1 Like

Agreed. The timing sucks. And I am sure we are doomed to failure. I have no interest in rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic while lovely chamber music comes from the radio.

Thanks for staying with the trouble, @johnnydavis54.

I feel we went pretty deep into the question and issues framed above, and also seeded a whole bunch more topics for future Cafés and/or other occasions. Let’s pick one for next Tuesday or decide where to start then.

I’m curious to hear how others respond to our dialogue, what happens next, and where the conversation goes from there.


Excellent plan. I will review the video tonight and get back to you asap. Tomorrow, we have Blake, a professional visionary, to grapple with. I sensed an invisible architecture is emerging. We have many motifs and themes to develop further.


Hi @madrush sorry I didn’t twig that this was so soon ie yesterday! So I’m sorry to have missed it. There are some things I would like to have discussed re climate justice and decolonisation, the impossibility of these within a capitalist system etc, but maybe you covered them already, I’ll watch the video.


[quote=“artex, post:7, topic:3587”]
I would like to have discussed re climate justice and decolonisation, the impossibility of these within a capitalist system etc

Please share your insights, Lucy. As Bateson said we need multiple descriptions. Please view the video and let us know what we may have missed or what you would like more of. We decided on the topic at the last moment and so I we were a bit unprepared but a worthwhile dialogue is emerging.


Hi Lucy, sorry you missed the Café, but like John said it was very last minute—we had no topic preplanned and I was inspired by the news and video clips of Greta, so I whipped up the above. I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts, esp. on decolonisation, which in a way is a perspective that can be taken for granted, but shouldn’t be taken for granted.

At some point while talking with John, I referred to feeling ‘colonized’ and ‘schizoid’, the oppressor and oppressed in struggle both within me & within the tentacular us. I am curious how you would describe it. Thanks for your attention!