Top Talks (#6): Save the World by Changing the Rules – Greta Thunberg

Welcome to week six of ‘Top Talks’ – a segment where I do a show-and-tell of my favourite speeches, talks or lectures.

Hello there!

Welcome to week six of ‘Top Talks’ – a segment where I do a show-and-tell of my favourite speeches, talks or lectures.

I am a strong believer in continuous improvement – which to me, means finding and listening to people who have an array of different values, beliefs and ideas, and sharing them with others!



Greta Thunberg is a Swedish Climate Activist. She is credited with raising Climate Change awareness through her ‘School Strike for the Climate’ demonstrations – which began with her missing school to protest outside the Swedish parliament, before picking up traction in schools around the world.

Greta is 16 years old, and has just finished sailing from Plymouth, England – reaching Manhattan, New York on August 28th on a zero-carbon-emission sailboat to attend a global warming conference.


Save the World by Changing the Rules – Greta Thunberg

What I got out of this ‘Top Talk’:

This TED Talk is one of Greta’s first speeches in the larger public arena regarding Climate Change, after deciding to skip school to protest Climate Change on the steps of the Swedish parliament. Since then, Greta has spoken to a number of high-profile political leaders and assemblies, and is known for her blunt, matter-of-fact manner. She gives a great insight into how hard the next generation will have to work to battle against Climate Change ‘non-believers’, politics, poor leadership and out-dated rules in order to secure the planet’s future.

Brown and White Signage


In her talk, Greta speaks about how she first came to learn of Climate Change at the age of 8. She says she was skeptical at first, because if this was happening, surely it would be all over the headlines, leaders would be doing something and there would be public outcry…

‘…why are we not reducing our emissions? Why are they in fact still increasing? Are we knowingly causing a mass extinction? Are we evil?’

Greta soon realized that there was a crisis looming that no-one seemed to be taking seriously. She stopped eating, stopped talking and was eventually diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome with selected mutism.

Greta was depressed. Depressed that we, as humans, could allow this to happen to our home, right in front of us. And it is an important thing to think about. We need to be accountable for our actions.

We need to start having frank conversations, changing our thinking and living in a sustainable way. It is everyone’s business. Without everyday people like Greta Thunberg taking a stand, what will our world look like in 10, 20 or 50 years’ time? And what will it mean for our children, or our children’s children?


Ice caps are melting, temperatures are rising and forest are being cleared for agriculture. Who is accountable? What is the governments’ stance? Who is becoming richer, while the planet becomes poorer in every way? Why aren’t we acting?

‘People keep doing what they do because the vast majority doesn’t have a clue about the actual consequences of our everyday life.’

In this talk, Greta questions why no one is acting. There are no emergency meetings. No headlines. No policy changes. No meaningful restrictions.

‘Even most climate scientists or green politicians keep on flying around the world, eating meat and dairy.’

Greta so rightly says in her talk that we can no longer play by the rules, because the rules themselves need to be changed.


And she’s right. How can we expect to tackle this Climate Crisis, when people in huge positions of power like Donald Trump are Climate Change ‘skeptics’? How can we tackle it when there aren’t any headlines, any policy changes or emergency meetings? The rules don’t work. The rules don’t serve to help the planet. They serve to help people. But what happens when there’s no planet for the people?

So we can’t save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. 

Everything needs to change. And it has to start today. 


Climate Change Is Changing The Way Young People See Their Future.

If you are a young person, the future is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate.



In case you’ve been living under a rock…

Climate Change is a very real, defining issue of our time. Regardless of whether you live in a place like the United States, where the President denies Climate Change (along with pulling out of the Paris Agreement to curb Carbon Emissions), or somewhere more advanced in its leadership on Climate Change, like France, who’s Prime Minister ended an address on the subject with: ‘Make our planet great again.’ … Boom.

Either way, we all live on the same planet, and it is our individual and collective responsibility to take action on Climate Change if this planet is going to survive even the next 40 years. NASA says the evidence for rapid Climate Change is compelling, noting key indicators, including:

Global Temperature Rises;

Warming Oceans;

Shrinking Ice Sheets;

Glacial Retreats;

Decreased Snow Cover;

Sea Level Rises;

Declining Arctic Sea Ice;

Extreme Weather Events and

Ocean Acidification

Climate Change is affecting the planet in significant, detrimental and soon-to-be irreversible ways. Without drastic action, the planet we know today will be gone, replaced with a landscape characterized catastrophic natural disasters, mass-extinction, global food shortages and increased exposure to conflict.

It’s for this reason that the younger generations are gearing up for a rough ride, and changing the way they see the world, in order to survive the damage our ancestors have inflicted on the planet.



Young People Don’t Want To Raise Children On A Damaged Planet.

More and more Millenials are becoming concerned with what the future may look like in 10, 20 or even 50 years from now. The phrase ‘I don’t want to bring children into this world’ is something you wouldn’t often have heard someone say 50 years ago. But in this day and age, there is a real, tangible fear of what the future may hold.

Global birth rates are declining, with more people becoming aware of the planet’s situation. The fear of bringing children into a world of uncertainty is a very real issue facing the young people of today. Even as recently as February this year, United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) asked the question ‘Is it still OK to have children?’ on her Instagram Story.

AOC argues that although the answer is not clear-cut, there is a scientific consensus that the lives of future generations will be difficult. And they know it. More and more young people are taking part in Global Climate Change Protests, like those started by Greta Thunberg who recently stated:

‘You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes… We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis…if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then… we should change the system itself.’

– Greta Thunberg

Younger generations are increasingly opting not to have children, with worries of food and water shortages, global unrest, natural disasters and political unrest present themselves as very real threats.



Young People Have Little Faith In Their Government.

A lot of Millenials are written off as out-of-touch with politics.

But the truth is, Millenials simply have no faith in the people representing them. Evidence of this is in the record number of Australians enrolled to vote this election – 96.8% of the total eligible voting population. This includes a record number of 18-24 year olds.

The world’s leaders have a responsibility to fight against Climate Change. We can only hope that as the older generations die out, they will be replaced with more switched-on individuals, who are dedicated to helping the planet and the people living on it, rather than continuing to be more preoccupied with the 1%:

“That future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once. You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to.”

– Greta Thunberg

A survey carried out by Triple J found that 89% of young Australians believe the politicians in power aren’t working in the best interests of the planet. And guess what? Those same young people voted Environmental Policy and Climate Change as the most important issues to them, come election time.

That’s pretty damning.



Younger Generations Are Experiencing Higher Rates Of Mental Illnesses Dubbed ‘Eco-Anxiety’ or ‘Ecological Grief’.

The negative impact Climate Change is having on the physical environment poses real risks when it comes to the Mental Health of young people. A sense of doom where the future contains things like poverty, unemployment, natural disasters and resource shortages are very real issues that young people are having to face.

Even as far back as 2012, the National Wildlife Federation reported that over 200 million Americans would be exposed to serious psychological distress from climate related incidents. Of a study done by Millennium Kids Inc., 94.6% of the target demographic felt that Climate Change would be a problem in the future.

In the face of a changing climate, Eco-Anxiety is only going to become more and more apparent, with Mental Health organisations starting to get on board, such as ReachOut, who have a page dedicated to: How to cope with anxiety about climate change.

The page in question lists a variety of reasons young people might feel strained, stressed or anxious about Climate Change, including:

Feeling like planning for the future is pointless and/or hopeless;

Angry that the people around them aren’t doing anything to help;

Frustration at a lack of action they can take to help;

Worrying about whether it’s responsible to have children (see above) and

Feeling like their future is out of their control.

All very valid points. Climate Change is a hugely relevant issue in the world today, and one that deserves to be treated with urgency.



If you are a young person, the future is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. There are lots of ways you can help the environment in meaningful ways, including:


Taking part in conversations with others about Climate Change

Joining the Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition

Taking part in School Strike 4 Climate

Joining the Australian Student Environment Network

Finding articles about ways to help the environment at home

Being active on Social Media Platforms

Joining clean up efforts, such as Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris Campaign




Join the conversation at




5 Easy Ways To Help The Environment.

Here are 5 (easy) ways to help the planet, without breaking a sweat.


Our Planet Needs Help!


It’s 2019, and the debate on Climate Change is heating up. Some scientists go as far as to say we only have decades to fix the damage we’ve done to the Earth before it’s too late.


NASA say the evidence for rapid Climate Change is compelling, noting the following key indicators:

Global Temperature Rises

Warming Oceans

Shrinking Ice Sheets

Glacial Retreats

Decreased Snow Cover

Sea Level Rises

Declining Arctic Sea Ice

Extreme Weather Events

Ocean Acidification


‘Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.’

– Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


The Earth has never been more vulnerable, and safeguarding the planet’s resources for the next generation is hugely important.



So what can we do to help our planet?

Here are 5 (easy) ways to help the planet, without breaking a sweat:





We have recycle bins for a reason, folks! Just using your recycling bin in the correct way can reduce pollution in landfill and helps the environment immeasurably.  This EPA Fact Sheet shows that landfill in composed of the following waste, which could easily be recycled.:

21% is Food – the largest component of Land Fill

14% if Paper and Cardboard

10% is Rubber, Leather and Textiles

18% is Plastic

Besides using your recycle bin, there are also other ways to help recycle your household waste (such as the items above).


Compost bins are a great way to recycle food, and turn it into something for your garden at home.


Recycling Depots are available, where you can drop your cans and bottles, are a great way to help the environment, and some places even pay money per bottle, like South Australia.


Some organisations (such as Sea Shepherd) will happily drop a wheelie bin to your house so you can fill it up, and then take it away once it’s full.

Other initiatives include local shopping centres (like Woolworths) collecting your old plastic bags, or electronics shops (Vodafone is a good example) having drop off areas for your old devices.

Even Nike has a program where you can drop your old sneakers off for recycling!





Reduce your waste by going eco-friendly/ reusable – you can get all kinds of handy products these days:

  • Coffee Cups
  • Drink Bottles
  • Straws
  • Fruit & Veg Bags
  • Cloth Nappies
  • … Basically anything you can think of!

Sites like Flora & Fauna offer a great range of eco-friendly products and ideas, will send your products in the mail with minimal packaging and even have a rewards program!





Switching to a Plant-Based Diet is the single most effective way to help the planet. Did you know:


‘Each day, a person who eats a plant-based/ vegan diet saves over 4,000 litres of water, 20 kilograms of grain, 30 square feet of forested land, 9 kilograms of CO² Equivalent and one animal’s life.’

– Cowspiracy Facts 


Even if it’s just ‘No Meat Monday’ or trying a plant-based alternative the next time you’re out to dinner – it all goes a long way.

World population is growing by 228,000 people a day. And while we are growing as a population, up to 137 plant, animal and insect species die out each day due to rain forest destruction – all for the purpose of clearing land for livestock for the western world to eat.

Agriculture makes up 80-90% of all water consumption in the US, and over 9,000 litres of water are required to produce half a kilogram of beef. These are alarming facts,which create dire issues in regards to the sustainability of the earth.





If the population of the earth is increasing, that means that the amount of vehicles being used is also increasing. Vehicles are harmful to the environment for a variety of reasons, including producing harmful CO² emissions.

For example, if 20 people stopped driving 20 cars, and used 1 bus instead, that’s reduced the amount of emissions caused by those people by a significant amount. Besides avoiding congestion in metro areas, less people using private vehicles every day is also said to be beneficial to public and environmental health.

Whether it’s taking a bus, train, tram, carpooling or cycling, it all helps!





Paper production is a large contributor to  deforestation, air pollution, water pollution and waste production (accounting for about 14% of landfill waste). Pulp and paper production is the fifth largest consumer of energy worldwide.

These days, getting electronic copies of your favourite books, text-books, instruction manuals and articles has never been easier. There are plenty of amazing sites that provide thousands and thousands of eBooks, such as AbeBooks, Goodreads, Open Library and

Most computers, laptops, eReaders and phones these days support almost any file, so there has never been a better time to stop buying hard copies and start supporting the environment.





There are plenty of simple ways to help the environment, most of which you can do from the comfort of your own home, workplace or school. The environment is everyone’s responsibility, and it’s always worth asking the question:

‘What can I do to make this world more sustainable?’



Find more articles at The Art of Overthinking.