2040 the book and the film – review.

Australian Damon Gameau’s 2015 directorial debut, That Sugar Film became the highest grossing non-Imax Australian documentary in history. He’s back again in 2019 with a new doco-movie titled 2040 – where he looks at the problems associated with “Climate Change” and what we can do to not only stop the man made portion of it in it’s tracks, but help reverse the long term effects. It’s a positive and optimistic look at the technology and methods available today that can help to save tomorrow’s earth, so that in 2040 the problems caused by human action that have helped to create climate change, rising temperatures and rising sea levels, will have been conquered – by making sensible, smart changes now, in 2019 and beyond.

Concerned about what the future would look like for his 4 year old daughter, he set about looking into alternative solutions to today’s industrial problems interviewing a number of innovators – the movers and shakers in eco and alternative methods. The result is a surprisingly optimistic, glass half full view of tomorrow’s world – where 2040 is seen almost as a utopian vision rather than the doom and gloom predicted by today’s climate scientists.


The UN Climate Science paper of 2018 told the leaders of the world that we had very little time left to stop Climate Change becoming irreversible…..and yet almost 18 months later, world governments are still bickering over the fine print and for now it’s still more or less business as usual with the destruction of the rain forest, pollution of the world’s oceans, the belching out of fossil fuel smoke from power plants and transport, and Big AG farming methods – which rely on massive use of fertilizer and petro chemicals, which deplete the life in the soil rather than helping it thrive.

What I find frustrating is that Gameau’s movie shows us clearly that the answers to all our pollution problems are here today, available for use world wide, if only the powers that be would bite the bullet, change their ways and adopt them.

The movie is peppered with interviews with small children, being asked how they would like the future to look…..what they want to see. Of course kids being kids you do get a few asking for clouds that rain chocolate….but I was so impressed with some of their answers. Children today seem far more aware of what’s happening to the planet than I did as a kid. Their honesty and intelligence is quite humbling. They are the guardians of tomorrow’s earth – if only today’s decision makers leave them an earth worth looking after – and the sooner we allow them to take over, the better. We, my generation and those before, have totally fucked things up (pardon the language). For thousands of years we lived in harmony with nature and therefore with the earth…..we were part of the natural cycles. But for the last hundred, maybe hundred and fifty, years we have tried to dominate the earth and in doing so have wiped out millions of species and are gradually pushing ourselves toward extinction.

Link to the movie trailer is below. It’s only a couple of minutes, please take a look.


As I write this post, the Amazon rain forest, which we depend on for providing around 20% of the earths oxygen, is burning out of control. The oceans provide at least 50% of our oxygen. Depending on which set of figures you believe, ocean phytoplankton are responsible for between 50 and 70% of Earth’s oxygen production and yet we continue to pollute the oceans. It’s like we have a death wish as we pursue the god of money.

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The 2040 book is equally impressive and contains all of the information from the movie. There are lots of easy to follow ideas and instructions on what we can do as individuals in our own lives to make small changes in our daily routines that, with the participation of millions of others, can result in big changes and positive effects on the climate change problem. There are lots of colour photos and drawings that go along with the text to make it so easy to understand. The book is littered (pardon the pollution pun) with photos of the young kids who were interviewed along with little quotes from them.

When asked how they would like the future to look, here’s what some of them had to say:-

Stella who says “Well I’d like it to be human instinct to just look after the world and to care for the world”

Caden says “In the future I think people should find other ways to settle their problems instead of forcing each other around with guns”

Charlotte even said “Well, a lot of people text. Maybe we should talk face to face more. I’d probably like to see people less on electronics.”


Raahil points out that we don’t consider the consequences of our actions. “By 2040 I would like if people acknowledge that the factories they build hurt nature sometimes….like the things we produce, it can hurt the wildlife and it’s not good but people just ignore it.”


And finally Scarlett who points out our tardiness on fixing the problems we’ve created. “Well, I would like for the government to have done something on global warming and pollution as now I think they’re not really doing anything about it”.

So, as you can see, the kids know that there’s a problem and that it needs fixing urgently. They can’t understand that we adults are dragging our asses playing for time, when there may not be much time left. The kids see the problem, note that there is a solution to it and their first move would be to stop doing the things that cause pollution and the second thing would be to implement the new technology or methods required that have a positive effect on the earth. Simple. What the kids don’t take into consideration, or share our obsession about, is the economy….money and profits. They care about the earth, nature and human well-being.

The system we have is causing the problems so the sensible thing is to change the system…..OR to make changes within the system that negates the problems it currently creates.


The book also points out the methods that the corporations and big industry employ to create doubt about climate change science. For example in a three year period alone, Exxon spent $8.9 million and the Koch brothers $24 million on the dissemination of climate misinformation. They also set up and funded a range of groups, organisations and companies under different names to give the impression that there were lots of climate denial groups – when in fact they all stemmed from one or two base companies. A power company in New Orleans was caught paying actors with placards pretending to be “concerned citizens” who were supporting a new natural gas plant.

They always argue that Big Ag, (agriculture that produces mono-crops or animals in feed lots), can not change it’s farming methods, as they claim that those methods feed the world. But in fact Big Ag actually produces only about 20% of the worlds food and a lot of that is soy and sugar – particularly high fructose corn syrup that seems to find its way into so many manufactured ‘food like products’. Smaller family run farms with a diverse crop are the people who feed most of the worlds population. All the better if the farms are run on organic and regenerative methods.


Another argument the deniers use is that “the science isn’t settled”… and they wheel out a stream of fake “experts” to denounce climate change. This method almost worked for the tobacco industry saying that smoking and cancer were unrelated.


I don’t want to say too much more about either the movie or the book as it’s important for you guys to see and read for yourselves and to form your own opinions. I enjoyed, and was educated, by the book and the movie equally and would give each one 4 out of 5 stars. Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope it’s been of some help.

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Of poems, walls, family and a poet called Frost…

I guess it’s not simply by chance that I enjoy reading the poems of Robert Frost. Not only do we have the same family name (Frost) but also share a love of the outdoors, of nature. Many of Frost’s poems are set in the natural world – in woods and fields.

Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874, but after the death of his father – when Robert was just 11 years old – lived much of his life out east, first in Massachusetts and then, after attending Harvard university (where he dropped out after 2 years due to health issues), in New Hampshire. Here, surrounded by nature, his writing really took off although it was not well received by publishers and rejection letters became the common reply to his submissions.

In 1912 at the age of 38 Frost moved his family to England and within a few months had found a publisher for his works. All of a sudden his poems were popular and sought after by publishers on both sides of the Atlantic. During his time in England he met Ezra Pound and Edward Thomas who both gave positive reviews of his work, boosting Frost’s popularity. One of Frost’s most popular poems, The Road not Taken, was written as a kind of joke about Edward Thomas’s lack of ability to make choices and then second guessing himself, although at the time many readers (Thomas included) failed to get the joke and took the poem at face value.

His 2 years of living in England were extremely good for his writing, but in 1914 at the outbreak of The Great War (world war one) he was forced to return to the USA, settling again in New Hampshire. Here he met up with publisher Henry Holt who would be his publisher for the rest of Frost’s life. Many of the publications that had turned down his poems before he left for England were now begging to publish. He sent them the same poems that they had earlier rejected and this time they all found their way into print. I guess this is a message for all writers, not just poets, to never give up, never lose faith in your writing.

Getting back to the whole point of this post….what started me off on this post about Frost’s poetry was….I’d been reading his poem Mending Wall…..(excerpt below)

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there…….

It goes on about how he and his neighbour go about rebuilding the wall, stone by stone and how he needs to know what, or who, is being either kept in, or kept out, by the wall, where as his neighbour simply likes it as a boundary between his property and theirs. “Good fences make good neighbours” is the neighbour’s mantra.

All of this reminded me of my grandfather George Arthur Frost, who was a builder by trade – mainly of houses – but who also used to build dry stone walls around the farmers fields in our village. We lived in what was the west riding of Yorkshire but is now classified as South Yorkshire, where there are very few wooden or wire fences and most are dry stone walls. These walls are put together by careful selection of rocks and stones, cleared initially from the fields, and stacking them in a way that requires no cement or mortar of any kind. All the pieces are self supporting and lock together. It’s an art form really. And a way of life, a skill, that is slowly disappearing.

Usually because of the length of the walls being built and the need for speed, most walls around fields are built with rocks and stones found close by, which are used in their natural form….not chiseled into shape. BUT walls built as garden walls (as in the second picture above) are taken more care with. Some of the stone would be reclaimed from previously built houses, extra stones are shaped more or less rectangular by the builder as he goes along, taking his time, building a wall that will last for centuries.

I felt it only fitting to follow in another Frost’s footsteps and pen my own poem to dry stone walls and the men who build them. So, inspired by Robert Frost, this is for my grandfather George Frost, from me Malcolm Frost.

George built walls straight and true
From stones found here and there
A firm foundation slowly grew
He stacked layer upon layer.
He worked hard through rain and sun
Through stillness and wind blow
Stepping back to see what he’d begun
And how far he had to go.
The rough stone made his fingers bleed
But George didn’t seem to mind
Sweat on his brow began to bead
As he got the wall aligned.
His wall will last a hundred years
And then some way beyond
This poem’s for George and all his peers
And stone walls of which I’m fond.

The best children’s author ever?

Enid Blyton (11.8.1897 to 28.11.1968) must surely be in the running for the title best children’s author ever. A prolific writer who produced a daily average of 6,000 to 10,000 words and wrote over 750 books in her life time. During the early 1950’s she achieved her peak output, writing 50 books a year. Think about that – 50 books in one year. Even though they were books for children, that is a phenomenal amount of writing.

Enid Blyton's most famous quotes


It came at a cost though. Even though children loved her books and the characters she created, and that most of her stories were centred around happy and stable family situations, AND that she loved to entertain and teach children….she had little time for her own daughters. Prior to finding success as a writer, she was employed as a nanny and a teacher and developed a fondness for children…other peoples children. Once she became a well known author, her obsession with writing and self promotion took priority over her own children, and her husband, who were pushed into the background. Her writing occupied most of her waking hours and the children were left in the care of nannies, or when old enough, shipped off to boarding school. Photos of her with her children were posed for the press photo-ops, such as this one below. See how the older girl manages to smile for the camera but the younger daughter appears sullen….unwilling to play her mothers game of ‘happy family’.

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Blyton is probably most famous for her stories about Noddy and Big Ears, The Secret Seven, and The Famous Five, but these were only a small selection from her vast number of story books. She also wrote poetry books, volumes of books for the teaching community, series of books based on ancient myths and legends such as the Knights of the Round Table and the adventures of Robin Hood as well as magazine articles. Such was her output that many in the literary business accused her of using ghost writers to produce such a large and constant out flowing of books. Many believed it impossible for such a volume of work to be produced by a single writer. This was strenuously denied by Blyton and in 1955 she successfully sued a librarian for spreading such rumours.

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Blyton with ‘Noddy’ entertaining someone else’s adoring children.

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Her stories and writing style were criticised by librarians and teachers because of the limited use of language and the recycling of story lines or themes in many of her books. Schools refused to allow her books into their teaching syllabus. She was also accused of being racist and sexist in her choice of language and the actions and diction of her characters, as well as being out of touch and too middle class. Her response was that she was only interested in what people under the age of 12 thought……and those people, those children, loved everything that she wrote. Books were flying off the shelves making her and her publishers a small fortune.
Many of the stories she wrote were of strong morals and the victory (eventually) of right over wrong, good over evil. But, rumours not only in her professional life as a writer, but also in her personal life were rife.

She was a very self centred person, selfish even, who put her life as a writer above everything and everyone else, even her family. This was probably brought about by the separation of her mother and father when she was a child of 13. She worshipped her father, refused to accept that he had many flaws…including chasing anything in a skirt….and blamed her mother 100% for the breakdown of the marriage. She more or less escaped into her own mind – into an idealistic world of perfect parents and ideal family situations. This came through in her books, but not in her personal life.


She severed ties with her two younger brothers, didn’t attend the funerals of either her mother or her father, shipped her own daughters off to boarding school at the earliest chance, cheated on her husband with other men…..and it’s rumoured with at least one of her children’s nannies. Yes, rumour has it that Enid batted for both sides.

Her first husband Hugh worked for the publishing company which produced her first books. Driven to drink, presumably by being shut out of his wife’s life, although he may also have been suffering from post traumatic stress as a result of memories of his experiences in world war one being revived while working on a book with Churchill. He went away from the family home during world war 2 to serve in the British Home Guard and it was during this time that Blyton had an affair with the man who would eventually become her 2nd husband – and Hugh began an affair with a much younger female author.

After Hugh had agreed to a divorce, as long as he could have full access to his children, Blyton then contacted his publishing company and told them that under no circumstances would she continue to do business with them if they continued to employ Hugh. She would take her vast back catalogue of books and any new ones to another publisher. As a result, Hugh was fired, and indeed ruined as far as the publishing business was concerned. He sank lower into alcoholism and eventually declared bankruptcy. Blyton also went back on her word and refused to let Hugh have access to his daughters. In effect, she ruined the man she once loved.

After marrying her 2nd husband she was surprised to find herself, in late middle age, pregnant but fell (accidentally or possibly deliberately if a recent drama based on her life is to be believed) from a ladder in the garden early in the pregnancy and lost the baby. It would have been a boy. Her first son and her second husbands first ever child.
Her second husband died in 1967 by which time Blyton was deep in the grips of dementia and no longer writing. Her death in 1968 came soon after his.

She wasn’t totally selfish though. She did support several children’s charities and set up her own foundation to help children in need. Her granddaughter Sophie Smallwood has revived the Noddy character and penned a new story Noddy’s Birthday Surprise.


Even though she died in 1968, Enid Blyton was still voted “best British children’s author” in 2008 – even beating J K Rowling – the creator of Harry Potter. She is also the 4th most translated author ever….behind Agatha Christie, Jules Verne and William Shakespeare. Her books have been turned into TV series and movies and are still popular with children in many countries.

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I was a huge Enid Blyton fan when I was a child, and still am. Finding out about her failings as a mother, wife and of her general selfishness has soured my memories of her somewhat, but has not detracted from the escapism and adventure I found in her books.

Writers on writing – a few quotes to inspire.

Many famous writers know what the secret is to successful writing…..for others, how they became so well known remains a mystery even to themselves. Here are a few quotes from the famous of yesterday and today…..to inspire tomorrows famous writers.

Childrens author and prolific writer of over 700 books – Enid Blyton revealed her writing methods as – I shut my eyes for a few minutes, with my portable typewriter on my knee – I make my mind a blank and wait – and then, as clearly as I would see real children, my characters stand before me in my mind’s eye … The first sentence comes straight into my mind, I don’t have to think of it – I don’t have to think of anything.

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.
– Edgar Rice Burroughs

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.
– Stephen King

A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.
– Sidney Sheldon

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
– Ray Bradbury

People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.
– Harlan Ellison

There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.
– Terry Pratchett

and a final one…from a writer just starting out….

Write from the heart…..but let your brain do the final edit. – aLiteraryBent

Hurricane Katrina from one families perspective. “Zeitoun” by Dave Eggers.

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This was one of many books that I bought during my trip to San Francisco back in April/May this year. I finally got around to reading it a couple of days ago and once I had started I couldn’t put it down. What a great read! Eggers spent 3 years researching the book and interviewing the Zeitoun family (and countless others) about their harrowing experiences during and after Katrina hit New Orleans – not only related to the storm its self, but also in the way that the main character in the story Abdulrahman Zeitoun was treat by the authorities.

Obviously I don’t want to give away too much of the story as I would rather you read it for yourselves, but just to set the scene…. The Zeitoun family consist of Abdulrahman, who is a Muslim of Syrian origin, who is married to Kathy, a white American woman who had already converted to Islam prior to meeting her husband to be. She had one child from a previous relationship and 3 more with Abdulrahman, They work as a team running a painting and decorating business…also doing building repairs….they are well known and well respected in the area. As Hurricane Katrina approaches, Kathy makes the decision to evacuate, with the kids, to her sisters home which is outside of the predicted disaster zone. Her husband decided to stay put and keep an eye on the multiple properties that they own in New Orleans and to help other people install plywood boards to protect their homes.

The day after the storm, with streets flooded, Abdulrahman sets out in his old canoe to assess damage and along the route to check his various premises, makes a number of rescues of people trapped in their homes. After this, he goes out every day seeking out people who need help, or deserted pets that need feeding. He feels that Allah has given him a purpose, justifying his decision to stay in storm ravaged New Orleans. He keeps in touch by phone, every day, with family members in Syria and in Spain, and of course with his wife who is safely out of the way being sheltered by friends and family. Until one day….when there are no phone calls from him. What has happened? Is he safe? has the phone system failed or has some ill wind blown the way of Zeitoun?

It’s most certainly worth reading the book to find out. Eggers writes extremely well. The story moves along smoothly and it really is a page turner. I personally rate the book very highly – it would easily be in my top ten of all time reads…..and I have been reading for over 50 years.

Katrina hit in 2005, the book came out in 2009, but more recently a cloud has been cast over the Zeitoun family. There are a lot of accusations of wrong doing in the last few years and the family has broken up, but this should not detract from the book or the story of how this family were treated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. After reading the book you will never look at “Officialdom”, in the USA, the same again.

Good read’s gives it 4.1 out of 5. I’d rate it much closer to 5 – it’s not prefect, but it’s damn close.

Looking at reviews of the book, of which there are many I’ll share this one with you as the reader who wrote the review shared my reaction to the book.

“I’ve got to give it to Dave Eggers in that there was no Dave Eggers in here. The reason this book succeeded was that he was able to step aside and let Zeitoun and Kathy tell their stories, using the plainest style possible to convey the most heartbreaking, sickening, and devastating episodes.

I don’t know how much of the story I should reveal… it’s better that you just read the book. But I’ll just say that it’s based on true accounts of a family who survived hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and then survived many other more unpredictable trials. The book as a whole–its before, during, and after of events described–perfectly encapsulates my love/hate relationship with this country.

I urge you to read this (and especially if you would never normally read Dave Eggers). If you give it 40 pages of your attention, I guarantee you will finish the whole thing in a day or 2.”

He was right. 2 days and I had finished this book. A good story, well written, highlighting the ridiculous priorities of government agencies in emergency situations and a demonstration on how they treat American citizens (badly!).

Book Review – When the Lights Go Out – Mary Kubica

On the back cover of this paperback, in block capitals, it says “A WOMAN IS PLUNGED INTO A BIZARRE CASE OF STOLEN IDENTITY IN THIS AMBITIOUS AND RIVETING THRILLER BY THE BLOCKBUSTER BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE GOOD GIRL, MARY KUBICA”.

When The Lights Go Out

The word AMBITIOUS should have been a clue, but I opened the book anyhow and started to read. It follows the lives of two women Jessie and Eden told in two stories – Jessie’s story is told in the odd numbered chapters and Eden’s in the even numbered. Jessie’s story is unfolding as we read it, where as most of Eden’s story is from 20 years earlier.

After the death of her mother, Jessie begins to rebuild her life and starts out anew by renting an apartment of her own and applying to college in order to continue her education – which was put on hold while she looked after her dying mother. The forms for the college application require a social security number…..to cut a long story short, her name, Jessie Sloan and the social security number it brings up, refers to a girl who died 17 years earlier. Jessie goes through her mothers papers but fails to find anything that can prove who she is….or who her father was. This obviously troubles her enough to add to the insomnia she is already suffering as a result of her mothers death. Very quickly lack of sleep makes it difficult for Jessie (and the reader) to know what is real and what is imagination as her world implodes.

It seems that the answer to her identity could be revealed in the story of the second woman, Eden and decisions that she made 20 years earlier.

I really do hate to give bad reviews to books I have read. I know how attached writers get to their work and how it hurts to have anyone criticise their ‘baby’ – but what I’d hate more would be for me to give it a good review and you, dear reader, to waste time reading the book and then sending ME hate mail. And you must remember this is only my opinion….who the hell am I anyway and what do I know? Although the story began with promise, once it started to focus on the lead characters insomnia – not knowing what was really happening and what was going on inside Jessie’s head – it quickly deteriorated, and my will to live, never mind my will to continue to read this drivel novel, was sorely tested. I struggled through to page 106 of the 301 pages before the urge to toss the book into the darkest corner I could find, took over. It lays there still….gathering dust.

I looked at some on-line reviews and found some by people who obviously loved the book. They said things like “One of the best thrillers I have read – EVER!” and “Omg! This is one of the best books that I have ever read! Great thriller, love it!” And not a hint of sarcasm, so they must have genuinely thought that this is the best thriller ever written. I am stunned by the thought. I can only assume that either they were paid a huge amount of money for their review by the author’s agent, or have extremely different tastes to me, or they are very easily pleased, or perhaps they have never read any book of substance. I’ve read a few other negative reviews of this book (such as someone called Janine who gave it one star out of 5 on Goodread’s – “Well, that was some bullshit. I should have known better.“) so I’m not on my own in not liking it.

In a bid to add balance to my panning of her book let me say that Mary Kubica is a best selling author who lives in New York (who is probably laughing all the way to the bank and won’t give a damn what I think). Her first novel was The Good Girl released in 2014 and she’s written several others since then. Hopefully with better plot lines than this one. The main character Jessie may have had insomnia, but this book cured mine.

No one is too small to make a difference – Greta Thunberg

This is not the post I had been planning on writing this morning. However, my wife Lizzie came home last night with a copy of Greta Thunberg’s book “No one is too small to make a difference”. It only costs NZ$7.00 and the money raised goes toward the Climate Crisis movement….so please buy a copy and help Greta to stand up for her generation….for all of us in fact.

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference cover art

Greta Thunberg was born in 2003. In August 2018 she decided not to go to school one day, starting a strike for climate outside the Swedish Parliament. Her actions ended up sparking a global movement for action against the climate crisis, inspiring millions of pupils, world wide, to go on strike for our planet. This action has earned Greta the prestigious Prix Liberte (Freedom Award) – Thunberg, 16, is the first recipient of this new award, which was designed to honor a young person ‘engaged in a fight for peace and freedom’.- as well as a Nobel Peace prize nomination. Greta has Asperger’s, and considers it a gift which has enabled her to see the climate crisis ‘in black and white’.

No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference is Greta’s first book in English, collecting her speeches from climate rallies across Europe to audiences at the UN, the World Economic Forum, and the British Parliament. She is not afraid to hold the older generation responsible for the mess our planet is in. She is not afraid to call out governments and corporations to act responsibly and to help to clean up the mess that they have created, or have allowed to be created, all in the name of the mighty dollar…for profit in financial terms, and to hell with the environment on which we all depend for life itself.

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She is an amazing, caring, passionate, intelligent and very responsible little girl with a huge heart who deserves our respect and our support, so please buy the book….or at least read it….or view/listen to her speeches on Youtube – link below – and join in the fight for the survival of the earth and all life, (including your own), on it. The corporate world hate her and fear her – every time she speaks to an audience, more and more people get on board to help the climate crisis cause – so they try to discredit her, belittle her for her ‘simplistic ideals’ and accuse her parents of manipulating her. There have also been personal attacks linked to her autism and her physique. It is pathetic to attack a child who’s only interest is to save the earth which we all – even the corporate executives – depend on for life.

I can’t wait for her to become of voting age…to see politically where it will take her. This young lady will go far. Click on the link below to hear her speak.

I would be delighted if any other bloggers would like to share this blog post to help to get the word out about Greta and her quest. She, we, and our planet, need all the help we can muster. Many thanks.