It’s our duty to save our planet and Greta is leading by example


It’s our duty to save our planet and Greta is leading by example


The name and the face have turned up on a number of occasions. I think the first time I heard her name mentioned was by President Donald Trump. He was jeering her and questioning how a teenager could have such strong opinions.

Then I heard her name mentioned in the context of Irish school children staging a strike to protect our environment.

Dermot A Lane is a priest of the Dublin archdiocese. He has been involved in academia most of his life, was parish priest in Balally in Dublin. These days he is placing much emphasis on ecology and the importance of caring for all of God’s creation.

At the end of March, I went along to a talk he gave on the environment and the need for dialogue between science and theology.

And whose name pops up yet again? Greta Thunberg. Whereas Donald Trump dismissed her as a silly young girl, Dermot Lane sang her praises.

Greta Thunberg is the 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl, who has hit the world stage speaking clearly and convincingly about the climate crisis. It is Greta who started the first school strike pleading with adults and political leaders to address the crisis. She has addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference and at the World Economic Forum at Davos in January she told world leaders that she did not want their hope, ‘I want you to panic. I want you to act as if the house was on fire because it is.’

Dermot Lane is a big fan of Greta. In the talk that I attended he pointed out that there is a 98 per cent agreement among scientists that climate change is manmade and that we have 10 years to change it.

He was most critical of the Irish Government reneging on the commitment it gave when signing up to the Paris Climate Agreement. It is generally accepted that we are the laggards of Europe when it comes to protecting our climate

Dermot Lane referred to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement but was heartened to see how mayors in many US cities have decided to keep to the agreement.

‘There is a silver lining in President Trump’s decision as it has strengthened the resolve of many authorities in the US to abide by the resolutions decided at the Paris Climate Conference,’ Dermot explained.

Climate change affects everyone but hurts the poor most of all. Cyclone Idai, which hit Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe last month severely affected the lives of two million people. And these are the poorest of the poor on our planet, who have contributed least to causing climate change in the first place.


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Having spent 10 years working with Concern Worldwide I’ve seen first-hand how climate change is causing such hardship to the weakest and the most fragile on earth.

Pope Francis in his encyclical letter ‘Laudato Si’/ ‘Praised Be’ writes: ‘Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.’

Pope Francis reminds us how the Book of Genesis suggests that human life is grounded in three closely intertwined relationships: with God, our neighbour and with the earth itself.

Mary Robinson is correct when she calls Greta Thunberg a ‘superstar’ and insists the time for action is now. Political leaders, industry, you and I are duty-bound to save our planet.



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