Greta Thunberg Is Right. Fairy Tales of Endless Growth Will Destroy Us

Growth is driving climate change. But news media ignore the clear connection.

GretaThunbergMarch.jpg
Greta Thunberg: ‘We are at the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.’ Photo by campac Creative Commons licensed.

It has been just over a year since 16-year-old Greta Thunberg started her “school strike for climate” outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm. Since then, she has spoken to increasingly large crowds — including Friday in Montréal.

There are many reasons why people are still talking about Thunberg’s speech on Monday at the United Nations Climate Action Summit. She spoke with knowledge, clarity and passion well beyond her years.

What I find especially significant about the talk is her inclusion of a critique of economic growth in the climate change story frame. “We are at the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” Thunberg said.

Scholars and activists share Thunberg’s concerns about the current system of endless economic growth. For example, professor David Barash powerfully equates endless growth to a Ponzi scheme. It is a system, he says, “predicated on the illusion that it will always be possible to make future payments owing to yet more exploitation down the road.”

Economist Juliet Schor similarly warns about the resource depletion implications for economic growth. She highlights that endless growth will lead to “blowback… which is now happening with the climate system, oceans and forests.”

Professor Thomas Homer-Dixon succinctly offers that “it’s becoming increasingly clear that endless material growth is incompatible with the long-term viability of Earth’s environment.” And writer Naomi Klein refers to the “god of economic growth,” powerfully proposing that “our economic system and our planetary system are now at war.”

Thoughtful and well-researched scholarship makes clear that economic growth and environmental crises are related. And yet non-academic writing linking endless growth economics and climate change is almost non-existent.

I have conducted a content analysis on the Canadian Major Dailies database. In the 12 months prior to Thunberg’s talk there were 850 newspaper articles (including opinion pieces, editorials and letters) with “climate change” in the headline.

Of these, 372 — or 44 per cent — were related to the economy. And yet only one letter to the editor raised concerns about economic growth in the era of climate change.

This is what makes Thunberg’s mention of “eternal economic growth fairy tales” so remarkable — she put economic growth and climate change into the same frame.

It is easy to think that economic growth is essential — that we have always had growth at the core of economic policy. But scholars point out that this is not the case. Bill McKibben and Peter Victor point out that our “fixation” on economic growth as an “explicit object of government policy” began in the mid-20th century.

McKibben highlights that since then economic growth has not only devastated the planet, but also fostered inequity, insecurity and “is no longer making us happy.”

Cognitive scientist and linguist George Lakoff offers that “all of our knowledge makes use of frames, and every word is defined through the frames it neurally activates. All thinking and talking involves frames.”

In other words, we understand and act upon climate change based on what has been framed with the climate change stories we are told.

The good news is that climate change stories can change. Not that long ago, there were few stories about climate change. Today, the number has dramatically increased.

Until recently, there were not many stories that linked climate change to extreme weather events. Increasingly, these stories are being told.

Now it is time to question economics and foster discussions about the hard decisions and changes that need to be made. It is clear that we cannot simply consume differently — we must consume less. MORE

 

Blaine Higgs’ populism undermined by his hardline stance towards labour


File photo of Sharon Teare, president of the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions, part of CUPE. Photo by Stephen MacGillivray

Despite his folksy charm, Conservative Premier Blaine Higgs has shown scant sympathy for New Brunswick’s workers in a simmering labour dispute he inherited. Higgs’s hard line stems from a belief that his government is broke — but it also resembles the hardball approach Irving Oil took toward its refinery workers back in 1994-96, when Higgs was an executive at the company.

The current contretemps came to a head this past May, when Sharon Teare, president of the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions, which represents 4,100 mostly female nursing home workers at 46 provincially financed retirement homes, angrily confronted Higgs, shouting at him during a media scrum in the legislature.

Teare was ticked off because her union, part of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), has spent two and a half years attempting to get a new collective agreement from an indifferent government.

She is unrepentant about challenging Higgs. “He wanted me banned from the legislature” after the confrontation, she said, shaking her head.

Her members get paid $18 to $24 an hour and work in often difficult circumstances, including chronic understaffing, added Teare. “Physically, emotionally and mentally, we are depleted,” she said.

CUPE workers protesting outside the offices of New Brunswick’s minister of social development in May 2019. Photo courtesy CUPE
Nursing home standoff caused by 2009 law

The roots of the labour dispute go back to 2009, when the province passed a law greatly restricting the ability of nursing home workers to strike. In the following years, the government increased wages by just one per cent per annum. With the cost of living rising 15.5 per cent since 2011, the buying power of nursing home workers has fallen 7.5 per cent.

Last year, a provincial labour board said the workers’ charter rights had been violated by the 2009 law. But the Higgs government rushed to court to prevent a walkout, while also refusing to send the matter to binding arbitration.

A week before her confrontation with Higgs at the legislature, Teare met privately with Higgs to see if they could resolve matters. But this meeting only occurred after CUPE occupied the constituency offices of eight cabinet ministers and organized a three-day sit-in outside the offices of the minister of social development.

Teare says Higgs listened to her and was respectful, but also told her “I cannot move off the ones,” meaning he wouldn’t consider a wage increase of more than one per cent per year. CUPE is seeking an increase above the cost of living. “He is not open,” Teare said. “He will talk to you and look at you when he is speaking and acknowledge your words, but he is taking a business approach to health care.”

Higgs’ refusal to budge led all three opposition parties to hold a vote in late May, asking the government to enter binding arbitration. Higgs didn’t blink, baiting the opposition to force an election over the issue, perhaps confident in his standing in the polls. The courts, meanwhile, have ordered the province to rewrite the 2009 law by this winter.

Higgs cut budget to pay down debt

Higgs’ position on wages is part and parcel of his goal of balancing the budget. New Brunswick is paying nearly $700 million in annual interest payments on its $14-billion debt load — one face of a province that lags on almost any socioeconomic indicator you care to name, except for the spectacular wealth of one family: the Irvings.

This year, Higgs cut $265 million from the provincial budget to help pay down debt, which is falling for the first time in more than a decade. However, this accomplishment was assisted by a $185-million increase in federal transfer payments from the Trudeau government — the very government the fossil-fuel-friendly Higgs hopes will lose in this fall’s federal election.

This makes it ironic that Higgs has cozied up to Alberta’s new premier, Jason Kenney, since Kenney has demanded the end of transfer payments from provinces such as Alberta to provinces such as New Brunswick. (Higgs has said in the past that he too would like to see transfer payments cut.)

Overall, Higgs chopped payments to child welfare, disability support services, income security, housing services, wellness programs and training programs for nurses. He postponed a planned museum in Saint John, withdrew support for the 2021 Jeux de la Francophonie (Francophonie Games) and delayed the upgrading of a dangerous highway.

But his most controversial cut was a program offering free university tuition to low-income students. “Wherever I go, especially in poorer places in New Brunswick, people are coming up to me and literally telling me because of that [decision], my son or my daughter is not going to be able to go to school,” Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers said.  MORE

The NDP’s Wealth Tax: What the Experts Say

Singh says it will help reduce economic inequality, but new approach is widely debated.

JimmyPattisonWalkOfFame.jpg
The NDP’s tax on the ultra-rich would affect billionaires like Jimmy Pattison. But is such a tax the best way to reduce inequality? Photo by Chris Young, the Canadian Press.

The NDP’s promised wealth tax on the ultra-rich would be a new step to reduce economic inequality in Canada, but quite a modest one compared to proposals being debated south of the border.

And while enthusiasm for a wealth tax is understandable when economic inequality is higher than it’s been since the 1920s, there are better ways to structure the tax system, said David Duff, a University of British Columbia professor who is an expert on tax law.

“I’m not a huge fan of wealth taxes,” Duff said. “Although in principle I would be opposed, I can understand the context for this… We live in a world where we have not taxed, in particular, capital income, certain kinds of income, to the same extent that we tax labour income.”

Policies like taxing capital gains at half the rate of other forms of income or allowing CEOs to be paid in stock options have allowed some people to accumulate large fortunes.

The NDP’s wealth tax would charge one per cent each year on the value of household assets above $20 million. It’s the only party proposing such a tax.

“It’s a wealth tax on those who are very, very, very wealthy,” NDP leader Jagmeet Singh told The Tyee.

The idea is to make sure people at the very top would pay their fair share, he said. The tax would raise about $9 billion a year from fewer than 2,000 people, Singh added.

Reaction to the proposal to tax wealth has been mixed, with progressive commentators more positive than conservative ones.

column by Matthew Lau in the Financial Post called the proposal “class warfare” and said, “The NDP’s plan for a wealth tax, however, breaks a sort of glass ceiling on the worst taxes proposed in Canada.”

Another Financial Post piece by Montreal Economic Institute researcher Gaël Campan said that while the proposal sounds good, it would be a “tragic mistake.” (The institute has been described as “a kind of Fraser Institute in Quebec.”)…

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives senior economist David Macdonald, meanwhile, argued that the proposal addresses the rise in economic inequality that he and others have long tracked in Canada.

“The wealthiest families in Canada — representing fewer than 100 families, each with net worth over $1 billion — have accumulated more wealth than the bottom 12 million Canadians combined,” he wrote. Those 100 families would pay half the amount that the NDP’s tax would raise.

Macdonald did sound a warning. “Because this tax applies to a very small group of very well-resourced people, their accountants will be busy looking for ways to avoid or at least mitigate it, as the wealthy in other countries have successfully done,” he wrote.

“For legislation of this sort to be effective it would have to be strong, with loopholes identified and quickly shut down, which can certainly present challenges.”

Erika Beauchesne of the advocacy group Canadians for Tax Fairness wrote that while her organization has been promoting an inheritance tax that would apply at death instead of annually, action on inequality is needed.

“The question and debate should no longer be whether we have increased taxes on wealth and capital, but what form they should take,” she wrote. “We should thank the NDP for getting this debate going in Canada and look forward to seeing what other federal political parties propose.”

The discussion about wealth taxes in Canada echoes the debate in the United States where two of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are proposing to tax wealth.

Elizabeth Warren is pitching a two-per-cent annual tax on a household’s net worth over $50 million and three per cent over $1 billion.

And Bernie Sanders is proposing a tax that would start at one per cent on a married couple’s wealth of at least $32 million, then gradually rise in seven steps to a top tax of eight per cent on net worth over $10 billion. MORE

 

 

Why Have So Many Communities Gone Without Water for So Long, Autumn Peltier Asks

‘Here in my country, the Indigenous People live in Third World conditions,’ teen Indigenous activist tells the UN.

Main-Autumn-Peltier.jpg
Chief Water Commissioner Autumn Peltier from the Anishinabek Nation addresses the Global Landscapes Forum at the United Nations on Sept. 28, 2019. Photo by Richard Drew, AP Photo.

[Editor’s note: Indigenous activist Autumn Peltier, 15, from Manitoulin Island, delivered this speech to the Global Landscapes Forum and the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, one day after Canadians took to the streets to march against inaction on climate change. We share it in full below, courtesy of the Global Landscapes Forum.]

Bozhoo, Mskwaa-Giizo Koe Ndigoo, Migizi Ndodem, Miswendaan Nwii Midewayaan. Wiikwemkoong Ndoonjibaa.

I would like to thank the Global Landscapes Forum and the United Nations General Assembly for having me here today to share my concerns and share why my people have a sacred connection to the water and the lands.

I would like to start by sharing that the work I do is in honour of my late Great Auntie Biidaasige-ba. If it weren’t for her lifetime commitment and sacrifices to create the awareness and the sacredness of water, I would not be standing here today. She inspired me to do this work as she was an elder when she began. I thought about who would keep doing her work one day; I just didn’t expect that day to come as soon as it did. She created the Mother Earth Water Walks. She walked around all the Great Lakes, more than once. She did this because the Elders began to see changes in the lands, medicines, animals and waters.

I come from Manitoulin Island. It’s the largest fresh-water island in the world. It is surrounded by Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. It is here where my activism work began. It all started by learning why my people couldn’t drink the water on Ontario Indigenous lands. I was confused, as Canada is not a Third World country, but here in my country, the Indigenous People live in Third World conditions.

Boil water advisories are still in existence and have been for over 20 years in some communities. There are children born into a world living off bottled water, living off a certain amount to do everyday things. I began to research this issue and discovered it was all across Canada. Then I learned of places like Flint, Michigan, in the U.S. Then I learned the seriousness of having clean drinking water.

Then it was like a lightbulb went on, why my great auntie was doing what she did for the majority of her life, until her last breath.

This brings me to what means the most to me and what I have been learning and sharing. The Sacredness of water. From a young age, from as long as I can remember, I was raised going to ceremony with my mother and my Auntie Josephine. I was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and we spent so much time with her and my Uncle Andrew.

When you ask the question about why is the water so sacred, it’s not just because we need it, and nothing can survive without water. It’s because for years and years our ancestors have passed on traditional oral knowledge that our water is alive, and our water has a spirit. Our first water teaching comes from within our own mother. We literally live in water for nine months, floating in that sacred water that gives us life.

We can’t live in our mother’s womb without water. As a fetus, we need that sacred water for development. The sacred significance is that my mother comes from her mother’s water, my grandmother comes from her mother’s water, and my great-great grandmother comes from her mother’s water.

Flowing within us is original water, lifeblood of Mother Earth that sustains us, as we come from this land. Mother Earth’s power is in the lifeblood of Mother Earth, which is our water. Mother Earth has the power to destroy us all, and if we keep harming her, one day she may decide to destroy everything.

All water is original from time immemorial. To think our ancestors drank from this same water thousands of years before us. Water evaporates and can turn into mist, fog, rain, clouds and snow. Water can go and be anywhere. We are constantly surrounded by water. Water not only surrounds us, but my teaching is that water hears us, feels us, and listens to us. When you pray to the water, our prayers are that much stronger. There are scientific studies that talk about water having spirit and feeling positive and negative thoughts.

Growing up and understanding how everything is connected to water, and how vital our waterways are is amazing in itself. My people still live off the land, we eat wild game, we harvest medicines from the lands, our waterways are vital in giving millions clean drinking water. Unlike several Canadian Indigenous communities across Canada and United States, and international countries in Third World conditions where they don’t have access to clean drinking water, I can’t even imagine what it is like to be dependent on bottled water. I visited a northern community called Attawapiskat, which is located on the James Bay, and I spoke to kids, and they shared their concerns and what it was like for them. No child should have to experience not knowing what clean running water is. This makes me upset.

This is why I’m here today. I have been raised in a traditional way and knowing my territory and the waters around my country and the issues my people face. I have heard of places like Flint and Six Nations in the Grand River; all across these lands we know somewhere where someone can’t drink the water. Why so many, and why have they gone without water so long?

One solution that resonates with me is a story my grandfather shared with me. My grandfather is going to be 74. He told me when he was a little boy, there was no plastic. There was no such thing as a straw, or Saran Wrap or Ziploc bags. There was no foil; no disposable plastic existed. He said they preserved everything. They stored food in the ground in cellars, used salt and blocks of ice. He said everything was wood or glass. They rescued everything they could, because they had no choice.

So why can’t we ban all plastics and go back to the old way, and work for our daily living? That’s an inexpensive solution, by trying to be more environmentally friendly and do the work. My ancestors were hard workers. My people survived without electricity and what we see today. Why can’t we go back to our ways? I’m sure everyone in this room has heard a story from their grandparents of how hard they worked and how they lived. I know I hear it when I listen to the elders. They share stories for a reason, as they are our teachers. Maybe we need to have more elders and youth together sitting at the decision table when people make decisions about our lands and waters. I said it once, and I will say it again. We can’t eat money or drink oil.

In closing, we need to protect the habitants around all waters across the world. We need to remember that our ancestors’ prayers are still protecting this land, and that we are our ancestors’ hope. One day I will be an ancestor, and I want my descendants to know I used my voice so they can have a future.

We need to join forces with all nations regardless of colour and nationality. Mother Earth does not discriminate, and we need Mother Earth to live, and we need the waters. When we stand together as one, we are one voice and one nation, and together as one we are stronger. We have this one last chance to save our planet. Let’s do this for our great, great grandchildren.

Thank you. Miigwech.  SOURCE

 

Why Naomi Klein thinks now is the moment for climate action

There have been a few moments in history when it seemed like the United States was on the precipice of climate action. In the early 1980s, when Congress was alerted to the fact that emissions could indeed affect the climate. Then later that decade, when President George H.W. Bush promised to tackle the greenhouse effect with the “White House effect.” And, finally, at the second World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1990, when it seemed the U.S. was prepared to engage in good faith negotiations with the rest of the globe (spoiler: it didn’t).

Looking back now, each of those moments seems like an excruciating missed opportunity to head off the catastrophe headed our way — some of which is already playing out. Given our history of false starts, it’s easy to look at any new attempts to get politicians to curtail the crisis with an unhealthy dose of skepticism. Are our leaders really going to do something about climate change? Or are they just going to keep kicking the can down the road?

Naomi Klein, climate movement veteran and author of seminal works such as No Logo and This Changes Everything, thinks this moment is different. Her new essay collection, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal, makes the case that the current political, social, and cultural zeitgeist is uniquely conducive to climate action. The moment we are in right now could be the one that actually, well, changes everything.

As the title suggests, Klein’s book makes a rousing case for an ambitious domestic climate deal. But she also examines the rise of eco-fascism, warns of a future in which first-world nations shut their doors to climate refugees and refuse to clean up the mess their emissions have caused, and champions a global Green New Deal, one that considers universal solutions rather than just national ones.

Those looking for concrete climate policies will have to wait for the actual Green New Deal legislation to be introduced in Congress early next year. On Fire is not a roadmap, it’s a reckoning — Klein takes stock of where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we could go. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s a reminder from the so-called “intellectual godmother of the Green New Deal” herself that this is a deal we can’t afford to refuse.

Grist sat down with Naomi Klein at our office in Seattle last week to discuss her new book. Our interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

Q. I was with some of my friends recently — we’re all involved in the climate movement in different ways — and we were trying to remember the moment when the discourse around climate change shifted from a political conversation to a moral one. You’re one of the authorities on this — is there a moment you can point to when this shift occurred?

A. I think climate change has always been a moral conversation. When I think back 10 years to the Copenhagen Summit, there was a huge debate about what temperature to set as the target. Some governments pushed for a 2 degree Celsius temperature target, and countries that are very vulnerable and first impacted — island states, different African countries — were saying it has to be 1.5 degrees C. This could seem like a technical discussion, but it didn’t play out like a technical discussion, because when the draft of the agreement was leaked with a 2 degree temperature target in it, the African delegates walked out en masse. They said,” This is genocide. There won’t be enough money to buy us coffins.”

So I believe it’s always been a moral discussion. I think in the United States, parts of the climate movement have spoken about climate in a pretty narrow, technocratic way. The policies have tended to be very bureaucratic sounding. They’ve put up a fence, in a way, because there’s such a high bar of entry to even participate in a debate about, say, cap and trade. Even at the peak of the cap-and-trade debate, most Americans didn’t even know that cap and trade had anything to do with the environment, let alone climate change. So there’s a sort of a bloodlessness in the way policy responses were debated in this country. But I think that the people on the frontlines of climate disruption have always known this is a fundamental moral issue.

Q. In the intro to your book, you write about the youth climate strikes. How have those mass protests changed the nature of the climate fight?

A. In Europe and in North America, I think the youth climate strike movement has really broken open the heart of this debate. Now it’s impossible to hide from the underlying morality of the crisis. But it’s always been there. The truth is that it’s complicated to think about why are people suddenly understanding that this is a moral crisis when they weren’t a year ago. I can understand why there’s a lot of anger in communities of color, in the Global South, because people have been trying so hard to be heard and have done everything that they possibly can to draw attention to the moral crisis. Like the cabinet of the Maldives having an underwater cabinet meeting to try to draw the world’s attention to the fact that their country is disappearing. It’s just been systematically ignored. Now that more middle-class young people in Europe and North America are saying, “This is an attack on my future. This is an attack on me,” now it’s like, “Oh wow, this is a morality issue. This is a human rights crisis.” But it always has been.

Q. Society tends to become obsessed with young, brave people — Malala, the Parkland kids, Greta — and then kind of forgets about them once time has passed. Do you think society needs young heroes?

A. Honestly, I think it’s really unfair to Greta to hold her up as a singular figure, because what she’s saying day in and day out is that what restored her will to live — she was in a state of huge depression, right? — was becoming part of a movement. It didn’t begin with her. She knows that.

I think there’s always a desire to have a beginning point, like this person started it, this moment started it. But then you peel it back a little bit and you discover this whole web of subterranean inspiration. Greta has been very deliberate about sharing her platform in the U.S. with young people, particularly young people of color who are really on the frontlines. So it’s just not respectful to her or to any of the young people in this movement to to to tell a narrative of this singular clarion voice. I think Greta is incredible. What is dangerous is isolating her.

Q. You write that this era of climate action is different for two reasons: there’s a mounting source of peril, and there’s a new sense of promise. Can you talk about what makes those two things a good recipe for action?

A.I think that this moment we’re in is different than other moments that I’ve lived through where an issue that seemed to be a niche issue that a very small sector of society was concerned about suddenly became a mass concern. Occupy Wall Street is one example. In Europe it was even bigger; in Spain, Greece you had months of occupations of the main city centers. The Arab Spring. I was in Argentina in 2002 and 2003 when they went through five presidents. The whole country was in the streets banging pots and pans. Puerto Rico recently had one of those political effervescent moments where all of a sudden people have just had enough.

I’ve been part of these moments where suddenly everyone’s in the streets, suddenly there’s this huge kind of political radicalization — but there isn’t actually a plan for what we want instead, and a vacuum opens up, and it can be exploited by those on the right.

The difference in the moment that we’re in now — and this is why I think the Green New Deal is of incredible political significance — is that it represents a trend towards really articulating a bold and transformational vision for the next economy.

Why I do have some hope in this moment is that I think if we find ourselves with the right sort of political stars aligning, I don’t think we would repeat this sort of tragic error of losing that opening to, “Well, we don’t have any demands, let’s just have endless meetings and collapse into indecision,” which I’ve seen happen again and again. There’s a real cost to failing to seize the reins of history when those moments open up. MORE

RELATED:

Against Climate Barbarism: A Conversation with Naomi Klein

Make climate change the issue candidates can’t ignore: Write a letter to the editor

How do the major parties’ climate promises compare? 

Read Ecojustice lawyer Julia Croome’s analysis of the climate commitments the Bloc Québécois, Conservative, Liberal, Green, NDP and People’s Party have made to date. 

Election 2019: Comparing the federal parties’ climate change commitments

Why Greta Thunberg Says We Have 8 Years To Stop Catastrophe

“Not once, not one single time, have I heard any politician, journalist or business leader even mention these numbers,” she said at the Montreal climate strike.

Article Featured Image

Time is running out.

That was one of the messages Greta Thunberg delivered to a crowd of thousands gathered to demand action on climate change in Montreal.

“For those who, in many ways, have caused this crisis, the science is too uncomfortable to address. But we, who will have to live with the consequences … we don’t have a choice,” Thunberg said Friday.

“We must speak clearly and tell it like it is, tell the truth.”

The 16-year-old Swedish activist drew attention to specific numbers in a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of scientists backed by the United Nations.

“We must speak clearly and tell it like it is. Greta Thunberg speaking in Montreal

Released in 2018, the IPCC’s watershed report laid out exactly what world leaders must do to keep the global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Leaders agreed to keep the world from warming more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels at the Paris climate conference in 2016. But there is urgency to limiting warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius because at that point, climate change will become catastrophic for small islands and coastal cities.

In her address to the Montreal crowd, Thunberg listed the dire facts.

“In the IPCC’s SR1.5 report that came out last year, it says … that to have a 67-per-cent chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees of global temperature rise, the best odds given by the IPCC, the world had 420 gigatonnes of [carbon dioxide] left to emit back on Jan. 1, 2018,” Thunberg said.

“And today, that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatonnes.”

One gigatonne is a billion metric tonnes, and carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas most commonly linked to climate change.

“With today’s emissions levels, that remaining [carbon dioxide] budget will be entirely gone within less than eight and a half years,” Thunberg said.

The world emits more than 1,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent every second, according to the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change, a scientific think tank out of Berlin.

The institute even has a clock that shows how much time is left until Earth’s remaining carbon budget is depleted.

 Thunberg said Friday that people need to understand these numbers.
“Not once, not one single time, have I heard any politician, journalist or business leader even mention these numbers,” she said.

“They say, ‘Let children be children.’ We agree: let us be children. Do your part. Communicate these kinds of numbers, instead of leaving that responsibility to us.” SOURCE