Is individual action pointless in the face of climate change? Let’s not beat around the bush: the simple answer has to be “yes”.

Think about it: what difference does one person forgoing a lamb chop for a lentil bake, deciding to catch the bus rather than take their car, or deciding not to jet off for that autumn getaway in the Balearics make if the other 7,699,999,999 of us humans here on Earth don’t do anything?

It is a dispiriting conclusion and begs an obvious question, and one that I am sure has already occurred to you: why bother?

That’s exactly what I asked the 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg when I met her last month. Rather than fly to her climate change meetings in New York, Greta had opted to be whisked across the Atlantic on a racing yacht.

You remember the boat, the one with the bright blue plastic poo bucket?

“The point”, she told me as we bobbed in Plymouth Sound, “is to create an opinion. By stopping flying, you don’t only reduce your own carbon footprint but also that sends a signal to other people around you that the climate crisis is a real thing and that helps push a political movement.”

It’s a good answer, and, helps explain why this Swedish teenager with pigtails has captured the world’s attention.

My riposte was maybe a little rude:

“So you’re trying to make the rest of us feel guilty?”

“No”, she replied calmly, and explained she doesn’t think it is her job to tell other people how to live their lives. Rather, her convictions must guide her own behaviour.

“I don’t fly because of the enormous climate impact of aviation per person.”

Read more: BBC