Fintan O’Toole: Greta Thunberg is a prophet, preacher, rulebreaker, avenging angel

The climate activist is incapable of blocking out truths the rest of us prefer not to think about

Ghosts are usually supposed to come from the past. They are revenants, spiritual leftovers from some trauma that has not been properly reconciled. But Greta Thunberg haunted the United Nations this week as a ghost from the future.

If she seems preternaturally aged for a 16-year-old, it is not just because she speaks with such imperious authority, the child rebuking her elders for their adolescent callowness – “You are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.” It is also because, in her short and ferocious speech, she artfully presented herself as an avenging angel, returned from the ruined Earth of 2050 to denounce those who could have saved it but chose not to do so.

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