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Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg comes to the rescue again

Mark Knight, October 21, 2021 6:00PM Kids News

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Scott Morrison aims to show off Australia’s green credentials at the Glasgow climate conference, but only after a hitching a low-emissions ride with Greta Thunberg in Mark Knight cartoon. media_cameraScott Morrison aims to show off Australia’s green credentials at the Glasgow climate conference, but only after a hitching a low-emissions ride with Greta Thunberg in Mark Knight cartoon.


Reading level: red

The next big challenge for the world following the coronavirus pandemic (I was hoping for a rest between major challenges, but anyway …) will be climate change.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described it as the greatest moral* challenge of our generation. I interpreted that to mean that the younger generation will have to pay for the climate fallout from older, previous generations.

So when we see students like yourselves protesting and taking days off school to attend marches in our streets it’s because our youth will have to live with the consequences of man-made climate change. Younger people seem to be leading the charge for change, and they are forcing our political leaders to sit up straight and take notice!

Climate Emergency Student Activists media_cameraStudents Jasmine Vogel and Olivia Mountain, from Faulconbridge Public School, protest at a climate emergency student strike in NSW in 2019. Picture: AAP Image

Just this week the Australian Prime Minister, or as we know him, ScoMo, decided he was going to attend the Glasgow climate conference with a meaningful contribution to reduce greenhouse gases by the year 2030 and then 2050.

Australia is a major energy producer. But fossil fuels* are on the nose these days (pardon the pun), and coal and gas are major exports* for us and create many jobs for Australians.

Workers in these industries vote as well and no politician wants to reduce votes at the same time they are trying to reduce carbon emissions*!

Two large yellow truck used in a modern coal mine in Queensland, Australia. Trucks transport coal from open cast mine. Fossil fuel industry, Environmental challenge. Climate Change. Logos removed. media_cameraTrucks transport coal out of a mine in Queensland. Picture: iStock

We have seen quite a few prime ministers come to grief in these past years over climate change policy. Kevin Rudd is one of them.

But ScoMo reckons he has a plan to transition Australia gradually from a carbon-emitting economy to a renewables* one, and so he is going to Glasgow!

That sounded like a topic for a cartoon.

As I read about the conference in Glasgow and its importance for establishing a plan for reducing carbon emissions, I imagined all the world’s leaders arriving in Scotland.

That’s a lot of planes flying in, and a lot of carbon being emitted from all those jet engines! Not a good way to start reducing greenhouse gases.

So I started with that idea and began sketching politicians aboard their VIP aircraft lobbing into Glasgow’s climate conference in a haze of jet fumes.

As I sketched I listened to a podcast about how our Prime Minister’s mission was to convince other leaders and investors that Australia was committed to doing something serious about climate change. It was a chance to demonstrate our “green credentials*” to the world.

Flying there in a jet wasn’t a good start, and I recalled how teen climate activist Greta Thunberg attended the United Nations in New York in 2019; instead of flying there, she took a yacht from the UK to the US to demonstrate her climate consciousness*. Maybe ScoMo could take a leaf out of Greta’s book?

media_cameraSwedish climate activist Greta Thunberg arrives in New York by yacht after a 15-day journey crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 2019. Picture: AFP

I scraped the drawing of planes and started on boats, but again my imagination was racing and pretty soon I was drawing the Australian Prime Minister and Greta in a boat together on their way to Glasgow … and she was rowing it! Insane, but exaggeration is one of the tools of the political cartoonist.

And so our PM was going to the climate conference in the lowest carbon-emitting way possible: a rowboat!

That should earn him kudos* on climate from everyone around the world.

Everyone except Greta, who is heaving on the oars as she delivers him her famous spray for world leaders: “How dare you!”


  • moral: to do with the principles of right and wrong
  • fossil fuels: fuels, such as gas, coal and oil, that were formed underground from plant and animal remains millions of years ago. They are turned into energy when burnt
  • exports: items that are sent to another country for sale
  • emissions: harmful gases, such as carbon, that are produced and released into the environment
  • renewables: natural sources of energy that do not run out, such as wind and solar
  • credentials: evidence of authority or success in a particular area
  • consciousness: awareness and ability to understand and respond to something
  • kudos: praise, admiration, recognition


Understanding climate change

How the world is working as one

Towards net zero 2050

How kids can make a difference

Greta named Person of the Year for 2019


  1. Who described climate change as “the greatest moral challenge of our generation”?
  2. Which overseas city is hosting the climate conference?
  3. How did Greta Thunberg get to the United Nations in New York in 2019?
  4. What does Mark Knight say is a tool of the political cartoonist?
  5. What famous spray does Greta Thunberg give Scott Morrison in Mark Knight’s cartoon?


1. What Happens Next?
Imagine this cartoon is part of a story that is made up of three cartoons. The three cartoons tell a complete story, and Mark’s cartoon is the start of the story.

Think about what the story could be and draw the next two cartoons that tell the story.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Being able to draw is only one of the skills needed to be a great cartoonist. Write a list of all of the other skills that you think cartoonists like Mark need to do their job.

Next to each skill, write a sentence that explains why that skill is important or helps them to do a great job.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Media Arts, Visual Communication Design

Describe It
Look at the cartoon and make a list of five nouns that you see. Then describe those five nouns with five adjectives.

Add a preposition to those five nouns and adjectives.

Now choose your favourite bundle and put all the words together to make one descriptive sentence.

Extra Reading in environment