Pour l'y aider, on doit sans cesse rappeler aux gouvernants l'impératif catégorique que Hans Jonas, dans ''Le principe responsabilité, une éthique pour la civilisation technologique'' (1979, page 40) considère adapté au monde d'aujourd'hui : Agis de façon que les effets de ton action soient compatibles avec la Permanence d'une vie authentiquement humaine sur terre ; ou pour l'exprimer négativement : Agis de façon que les effets de ton action ne soient pas destructeurs pour la possibilité d'une telle vie. Greta : We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth, she said. How dare you ! Greta's great for us all !


(...) For decades, researchers and activists have struggled to get world leaders to take the climate threat seriously. But this year, an unlikely teenager somehow got the world’s attention.

(...) The politics of climate action are as entrenched and complex as the phenomenon itself, and Thunberg has no magic solution. But she has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change. She has offered a moral clarion call to those who are willing to act, and hurled shame on those who are not. She has persuaded leaders, from mayors to Presidents, to make commitments where they had previously fumbled : after she spoke to Parliament and demonstrated with the British environmental group Extinction Rebellion, the U.K. passed a law requiring that the country eliminate its carbon footprint. She has focused the world’s attention on environmental injustices that young indigenous activists have been protesting for years. Because of her, hundreds of thousands of teenage “Gretas,” from Lebanon to Liberia, have skipped school to lead their peers in climate strikes around the world.

(...) Thunberg is 16 but looks 12. (...) She has Asperger’s syndrome, which means she doesn’t operate on the same emotional register as many of the people she meets. She dislikes crowds ; ignores small talk ; and speaks in direct, uncomplicated sentences. She cannot be flattered or distracted. She is not impressed by other people’s celebrity, nor does she seem to have interest in her own growing fame. But these very qualities have helped make her a global sensation. Where others smile to cut the tension, Thunberg is withering. Where others speak the language of hope, Thunberg repeats the unassailable science : Oceans will rise. Cities will flood. Millions of people will suffer.

“I want you to panic,” she told the annual convention of CEOs and world leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January. “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” Thunberg is not a leader of any political party or advocacy group. She is neither the first to sound the alarm about the climate crisis nor the most qualified to fix it. She is not a scientist or a politician. She has no access to traditional levers of influence : she’s not a billionaire or a princess, a pop star or even an adult. She is an ordinary teenage girl who, in summoning the courage to speak truth to power, became the icon of a generation. (...) Along the way, she emerged as a standard bearer in a generational battle, an avatar of youth activists across the globe fighting for everything from gun control to democratic representation.

(...) According to a December Amnesty International survey, young people in 22 countries identified climate change as the most important issue facing the world. She is a reminder that the people in charge now will not be in charge forever, and that the young people who are inheriting dysfunctional governments, broken economies and an increasingly unlivable planet know just how much the adults have failed them. “She symbolizes the agony, the frustration, the desperation, the anger — at some level, the hope — of many young people who won’t even be of age to vote by the time their futures are doomed,” says Varshini Prakash, 26, who co-founded the Sunrise Movement, a U.S. youth advocacy group pushing for a Green New Deal. Thunberg’s moment comes just as urgent scientific reality collides with global political uncertainty. Each year that we dump more carbon into the atmosphere, the planet grows nearer to a point of no return, where life on earth as we know it will change unalterably.

(...) More than a century after that science became known, Thunberg’s primary-school teacher showed a video of its effects: starving polar bears, extreme weather and flooding. The teacher explained that it was all happening because of climate change. Afterward the entire class felt glum, but the other kids were able to move on. Thunberg couldn’t. She began to feel extremely alone. She was 11 years old when she fell into a deep depression. For months, she stopped speaking almost entirely, and ate so little that she was nearly hospitalized; that period of malnutrition would later stunt her growth.

(...) Thunberg’s Asperger’s diagnosis helped explain why she had such a powerful reaction to learning about the climate crisis. Because she doesn’t process information in the same way neurotypical people do, she could not compartmentalize the fact that her planet was in peril. “I see the world in black and white, and I don’t like compromising,” she told TIME during a school break earlier this year. “If I were like everyone else, I would have continued on and not seen this crisis.” She is in some ways grateful for her diagnosis; if her brain worked differently, she explained, “I wouldn’t be able to sit for hours and read things I’m interested in.”

(...) On Aug. 20, 2018, Thunberg arrived in front of the Swedish Parliament. “Learning about climate change triggered my depression in the first place,” she says. “But it was also what got me out of my depression, because there were things I could do to improve the situation. I don’t have time to be depressed anymore.” Her father said that after she began striking, it was as if she “came back to life"

(...) On the first day of her climate strike, Thunberg was alone. (...) On the second day, a stranger joined her. (...) They were suddenly a group: one person refusing to accept the status quo had become two, then eight, then 40, then hundreds. Then thousands. (...) By the end of 2018, tens of thousands of students across Europe began skipping school on Fridays to protest their own leaders’ inaction. In January, 35,000 schoolchildren protested in Belgium following Thunberg’s example. The movement struck a chord. (...) By September 2019, the climate strikes had spread beyond northern Europe. In New York City, 250,000 reportedly marched in Battery Park and outside City Hall. In London, 100,000 swarmed the streets near Westminster Abbey, in the shadow of Big Ben. In Germany, a total of 1.4 million people took to the streets, with thousands flooding the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and marching in nearly 600 other cities and towns across the country. (...) Make the World Greta Again became a rallying cry.

(...) The activism of children has also motivated their parents. In São Paulo, Isabella Prata joined a group called Parents for Future to support child activists. Thunberg, she says, “is an image of all of this generation.” It all happened so fast. Just over a year ago, a quiet and mostly friendless teenager woke up, put on her blue hoodie, and sat by herself for hours in an act of singular defiance. Fourteen months later, she had become the voice of millions, a symbol of a rising global rebellion.

On Dec. 3, La Vagabonde docked beneath a flight path to Portugal’s largest airport. (...) “I’m doing this to send a message that it is impossible to live sustainably today, and that needs to change immediately. People are underestimating the force of angry kids,” she said. “We are angry and frustrated, and that is because of good reason. If they want us to stop being angry then maybe they should stop making us angry.”

(...) In September, speaking to heads of state during the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg pulled no punches: “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” she said. “How dare you !"

(...) Karin Watson, 22, who came to the climate summit as part of a delegation from Amnesty International Chile, describes a tumultuous, interconnected and youth-led “social explosion” worldwide. She cannot disentangle her own advocacy for higher wages from women’s rights and climate : “This social crisis is also an ecological crisis — it’s related,” she says. “In the end, it’s intersectional : the most vulnerable communities are the most vulnerable to climate change.”

(...) “Young people tend to have a fantastic impact in public opinion around the world,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told TIME. “Governments follow.” On Dec. 6, the tens of thousands of people flooding into Madrid to demonstrate for climate action pour off trains and buses and sweep in great waves through the heart of the city. Above their heads, the wind carries furious messages — Merry Crisis and a Happy New Fear ; You Will Die of Old Age, I Will Die of Climate Change — and the thrum of chants and drumming rise like thunder through the streets. (...) When Thunberg finally approaches the stage, she climbs in her Velcro shoes to a microphone and begins to speak. The drums fall silent, and thousands lean in to listen. “The change is going to come from the people demanding action,” she says, “and that is us.” From where she stands, she can see in every direction. The view is of a vast sea of young people from nations all over the world, the great force of them surging and cresting, ready to rise. ■

Ce billet a été modifié le 26 décembre 2019, puis le 7 février 2020