The teenage guru of environmental alarmists around the world does not fly due to the carbon emissions produced by air travel. Instead of flying to Madrid, Spain to attend the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 25), Greta Thunberg is crossing the Atlantic in a catamaran. Her adventure of crossing the ocean from Virginia to Portugal spotlights one glaring fact, though. The yacht captain who volunteered to sail the teen on her journey flew from England to Virginia, thus canceling out any savings of carbon emissions Thunberg may have managed.
Thunberg found herself in need of transportation to Madrid after the COP25 in Santiago was canceled due to political protests. At the time it was canceled, Thunberg was in California preparing to sail to Chile. She put out a plea on social media for help in traveling to the Madrid location once the conference’s new location was determined. Nikki Henderson, a skipper in three ARC Trans Atlantic races, answered the call. She flew to the United States to sail Thunberg to Lisbon, Portugal. Henderson canceled any carbon reduction that Thunberg would have accomplished by not flying to Madrid.
The 48-foot French catamaran is owned by lifestyle bloggers Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu, an Australian couple who sail around the world with their toddler son and document their life at sea. Their adventures are paid for by their supporters – in other words, their reality show lifestyle is funded by the kindness of strangers.
So happy to say I'll hopefully make it to COP25 in Madrid.
I’ve been offered a ride from Virginia on the 48ft catamaran La Vagabonde. Australians @Sailing_LaVaga ,Elayna Carausu & @_NikkiHenderson from England will take me across the Atlantic.
We sail for Europe tomorrow morning! pic.twitter.com/qJcgREe332
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) November 12, 2019
This is not the first time a dramatic gesture by Miss Thunberg has backfired. In August she arrived in New York City onboard a solar powered yacht. She traveled from England and had plans to attend a United Nations meeting, as well as making appearances at climate change rallies in various American cities. The yacht, though, had to be brought back to England. That required a two man sailing crew to fly from England to New York to sail back home. No carbon emissions were actually saved by Greta refusing to travel by air.
Greta Thunberg shows no sign of slowing down in allowing the adults in her life to exploit her for fame and fortune. It’s all well and good for her to be at the mercy of complete strangers but imagine the emotional and mental toll all of this will take on her when the spotlight dims, when the public grows bored with her and moves on to the next media darling. Her father, Svante, is along on this ocean crossing. The journey is expected to take four weeks. Alas, she is running late in her arrival. She will dock in Lisbon and then travel to Madrid for the conference.
Ms Thunberg broke the news of her late arrival to the conference of the parties on Monday: “We’re speeding towards Europe!
“Estimated time of arrival right now is Tuesday morning [local time]. We’ll be arriving at Doca de Alcantara, Lisbon. We are all looking forward to see you there!”
It’s been blowing 30-40 knots all night, and it’s still going! Overnight we were heavily reefed – here’s Riley putting a reef in at sunset last night⛵️ pic.twitter.com/izgBspbmUf
— Nikki Henderson (@_NikkiHenderson) December 2, 2019
Henderson is a fan of Thunberg’s. She would be “honored” to help her again, if the need arises.
Henderson, whose mother is the former Tory minister Anne Milton, wishes she’d had young female role models like Thunberg when she was growing up. “I am one to champion how powerful and strong young people are, but she has a huge responsibility on her shoulders,” says Henderson, who’s been sailing since the age of 11. “She is clearly driven by it and empowered by it, but still it must be heavy.”
Will she stay in touch with Thunberg? “I very much hope to,” she says. “And of course, if I can, I’ll definitely put my hat in the ring if Greta needs another floating ride. She is changing the world. To be part of that is an honour.”
So far, so good with the kindness of strangers towards Greta Thunberg. No doubt she will be given a hero’s welcome when she arrives in Lisbon, and then on to Madrid.