My mission in life is to create an equitable and beautiful world for all life on earth

September 10, 2021   |   Greta Cuthell

I would like to begin today by acknowledging the Wadawurrung people, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which I write this today. I would like to pay my respects to their Elders past and present, and I extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander peoples.

My name is Greta Cuthell, I am 17 years old and I am a born and bred Aussie. For my whole life I have been infatuated with animals and the beauty of nature. I have grown up by the beach and bushlands and have a real soft spot for the animals – I worked in a wildlife sanctuary for 2 years, making for a very different high school experience! During this time, I have seen firsthand the effects that climate change has on the world around us, and my greatest passions. This destroyed me. But I also dug deeper into this opportunity and found a person that I never knew existed. So, this incredible love for animals and the natural world has now been translated into passionate activism and amazing opportunities that I believe, can change the world. This began my work with the not for profit organisation Youth Climate Save – a youth led campaign empowering young people all over the world to stand up for climate and animal justice, and to educate others on this very important issue.

From my work with Youth Climate Save, many incredible opportunities have risen before me, allowing my activism to grow stronger and stronger. My mission in life is to create an equitable and beautiful world for all life on earth – humans, animals, and all of nature alike, so we can all thrive together once more.

So here is a bit more about me and my story.

Growing up, nature was always a huge part of my life. Living near the beach and the bushlands, it was a part of me since the day I entered this world.

But what I never really knew was just how much of an impact our everyday decisions make on the world around us.

To be completely honest with you all, a few years ago I was really struggling with my mental health.

And what I didn’t realise back then, was that this was the terrible reality for so many other youth out there, struggling with the prospects of climate change, and dealing with the frustration, the ‘what ifs’ and the fear for our future.

The UN has found that the majority of youth have said climate change has affected their mental health, including by giving them eco-anxiety and depression, confusion, despair and hopelessness, uncertainty about what the future will look like, the fear of losing their homes and their lives, and anxiety about whether there will even be a world left for them, and future generations.

The climate crisis is doing even more than we may think.

These days, we often don’t think past the year 2050. During this year, I will only be 46 years old. What happens next?

Many people say that climate change is an existential threat, and that it is the most important issue of all, and yet we just carry on like before.

We continue to burn fossil fuels, we dig coal and oil out of the ground, we push countless species to extinction, we pollute the planet, we cut down forests and raise livestock to eat.

For many people, it may feel as though we are doing enough. We’re recycling, turning off the lights, switching off at the power point and so on. We think we are doing enough, we claim that we are. But we aren’t. If we were, emissions would have gone down by now, and the planet would be beginning to recover.

Instead, we are seeing the planet’s average temperature rising beyond what is normal, we are seeing record breaking heat waves across the globe, the arctic melting, the sea levels rising, bushfires, freak storms, hurricanes, floods, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, droughts, erosion, food and water shortages, compromised ecosystems, nature being destroyed, mass extinctions, and the Amazon rainforest now emitting more C02 than it captures.

The vast majority of us do not know the impacts of our everyday decisions, and the fact that rapid and instantaneous change is required, and it is required now.

So, a few of you may be feeling how I was a couple of years ago, and how the majority of my generation is feeling today… really struggling with these ideas.

Personally, at this time, I felt helpless, scared and confused. I knew I had to change something in my life. But what? What could I do? How can one single person change the world? I knew that I must do more.

And at this moment, my other true passion really came in handy. What was the one thing that could cheer me up no matter what? Was it patting the soft fur of a sleeping cat, was it watching the bushes rustle with energy and life, or was it the soft sounds of the birds singing me awake early in the morning?

Shortly after these realisations, I began volunteering at a local wildlife sanctuary. After one day there, spending all of my time in nature, with our beautiful Australian wildlife, my mood had lifted, I was feeling positive, and optimistic. There is something about being amongst those that we share our planet with, that deeply humbles you and makes you want to protect them more than anything. This gave me purpose in life once more.

So time went on and I began a full time job, caring for the sick and injured, witnessing their release back into their home. Nursing joeys so they could grow big and strong, just like us. And after long, tireless days of doing what I loved, I learnt something, something that would stay with me for years to come, and all my life.

My duty in this world is to do everything I possibly can to protect all life on planet earth. These animals supported me, and I must support them.

So then came the time of the 2019 – 2020 Australian bushfires. The bushfires that wiped out approximately 3 billion Australian animals. This event was one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history.

The country went into shock. As did nature.

I saw firsthand the suffering that climate change was causing to our wildlife. Burnt koalas, heat stunned kangaroos and wallabies, birds falling out of trees. And to think that us humans were causing this damage. I could not bear it anymore.

From this day onwards, I pledged to do everything in my power to protect all life on Earth, no matter what. I never want to see our natural world suffer again, especially in the hands of us humans.

And so here I am now, a passionate vegan and environmental activist, fighting for climate justice and an equitable world for all life on earth. And the only regret I have? Not doing this much sooner. Fighting to save the one thing that we all have in common, is so empowering, and has given me purpose in life once more. And I believe that all of you can do the same.

Join me in being a climate and animal hero and protect our Earth for future generations to come.  We can eat plants, plant trees, and endorse the Plant Based Treaty today.