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26th Mar 2021

Greta Thunberg jokes that ‘penis pollution’ will get more people striking

Danny Jones

Give someone an inch and they’ll march for a mile in the name of climate change

Greta Thunberg is a pretty impressive individual. The 18-year-old activist sailed across the Atlantic for 14-days in an entirely carbon-neutral journey – she was 16 at the time; she’s spoken to the UN and a number of parliaments around the world, and she continues to campaign and raise awareness around climate change. She’s also pretty funny on Twitter too.

Following an article shared by Sky News, which essentially detailed that a recent study has shown that phthalates – a chemical used in plastic that affects hormone production – is threatening sperm counts and shrinking human penises around the world. In short, penis pollution is a thing.

It’s pretty concerning news, to be honest (as if all stories about global warming weren’t already); the chemical itself is found not through direct emissions but in children’s toys and even food. We should be worried about this stuff, everyone should, but climate strikes like Extinction Rebellion are still portrayed as more of a nuisance than actual global warming.

The only thing more worrying than the media perception surrounding these protests is their attendance. Luckily, while such impassioned and educated speeches at such a young age seem to rub people the wrong way, Greta has found funny alternatives that still manage to get people talking.

Her pithy and perfectly poised quote tweet is just the kind of things to rile up the right kind of people: climate-deniers and those who simply don’t seem to be arsed about the planet literally dying. More importantly, however, this clever little troll plays off what, unfortunately, most people still prioritise, i.e., themselves.

As soon as you see the phrase ‘penis pollution’ on social media, you know the comments section is going to be absolute quality. Some of the original replies to the tweet from the Sky News account were just as good too, in fairness. Here was one of our favourites:

When talking about what is a very critical issue, it’s good to see that attention can still be drawn to it by joking about it and using humour – that was always going to resonate with people first and foremost. Moreover, if anything’s gonna penetrate male self-interest and male ego, specifically, it’s telling them penis pollution is a thing.

It’s crucial to have the serious talks, sure, but most find it easier to run and hide from those conversations, or just bury their head in the sand and pretend nothing’s happening. People like Greta’s, that are doing both, are the kind of people who might finally help make an impact.

Nevertheless, for anyone that still hasn’t seen it, we encourage you to watch Greta’s speech at the UN Climate Action Summit back in 2019. In fact, here it is: