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OPINION: The power of a single voice really can change the world


The movement that has formed around the voice of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has resonated around the world. Greta Thunberg is a teenage girl who has been so emotionally affected by the degradation of the planet that it physically made her sick. Rather than retreat she decided she had to make a difference as her own future, and the literal future of everyone she knows, is at stake. Through skipping school to protest about climate change outside the Swedish parliament, she has brought awareness to a much broader audience and galvanised the children of the world, those very people whose futures depend on action. Even here in New Zealand, school children have exercised their right to protest and push the government to make essential change for the environment.

It’s through the actions of Greta Thunberg, and those like her, that the world’s youth proves how important it is for us to pay it forwards. In other words, it’s up to us to clean up the hall before we turn the lights out. We may consider our teenage years long behind us, it is those of our children and grand children are what truly matter. There is no Planet B.


How does this relate to us as individuals? Hold your horses, like any good tale we shall get to that. Later. So stop fidgeting and put your hands where I can see them.

Another great individual, this time right in our backyard is the great Doctor Andrew Digby (amongst many others), who is working tirelessly in the literally life and death struggle for a species, the Kakapo. As you know Kakapo are native to New Zealand which means that these ungainly balls of green feathers exist nowhere else on earth. Once so populous you couldn’t throw one without hitting another one, they are now very much on a knife edge.

Without the care and dedication of such individuals as Dr Digby, this unique New Zealand species, pushed so close to the edge of extinction would simply vanish over the edge. Another iconic animal like the dodo or the Thylacine reduced to nothing more than a collection of turn of the century prints and fading film clips.

So now for the upbeat bit: through the efforts of these individuals, the Kakapo breeding season this year alone has resulted in 71 living chicks (as at time of writing). Although with nature (as with inflation) this number may rise or fall, these chicks constitute an addition of half of the extant Kakapo population. Imagine what that will do to the nest prices!

So, what can I do, really, you might say (go on, no one will hear…). My gene sequencing is somewhat rusty, and even the thought of lying on a roll mat in the pouring rain and feeding chicks through an eye dropper is enough to make my bones ache. Well, firstly do what you have always done: nurture, support and help the next generation and make a difference by being there for them as they do so. Understand that sometimes things are just too big to leave alone, even when it may take more than we have left to walk around to the other side. Most of all, do what you do best: learn. Learn about something, anything relevant that interests you and find a way to make that work.

Look at what you can do to be more friendly to the environment, bear with me and stop stifling that yawn. I don’t mean knitting yourself new undies from the string left over after the tomatoes have been trussed, though by all means feel free. Simple stuff, just take a moment to sort your recyclables from your rubbish before it hits the bin. Look at the packaging you consume. Let’s say you endeavour to buy your carrots loose rather than smothered in plastic. Vote with your feet, if we don’t buy it, they won’t sell it, it’s the simplest rule of the market economy.

When a bulb goes (a light bulb, not a daffodil!) replace it for an LED bulb. This won’t only reduce the power that you consume, but it will also save you money as well. Remember, every single little act of thoughtful self-awareness that you as individuals make, helps us back towards that path that for so many years we have steadfastly ignored. Be your own hero.

Huw Parslow

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