We’ve all heard the name Greta Thunberg. She’s made headlines of newspapers internationally and she’s one of the most influential young people, campaigning globally for climate change. But what exactly is Greta’s story? How has this 16 year old already addressed the United Nations and multiple governments around the world?
How has this 16 year old, in one year, empowered millions of youth all around the world? How has she started the biggest climate movement in history in only one year?
Greta was only 12 years old when she stopped eating meat and going on airplanes, to lessen her impact on the environment.
On a Facebook post she explained how her journey started;
“In May 2018 I was one of the winners in a writing competition about the environment held by Svenska Dagbladet, a Swedish newspaper. I got my article published and some people contacted me, among others was Bo Thorén from Fossil Free Dalsland. He had some kind of group with people, especially youth, who wanted to do something about the climate crisis.
I had a few phone meetings with other activists. The purpose was to come up with ideas of new projects that would bring attention to the climate crisis. Bo had a few ideas of things we could do. Everything from marches to a loose idea of some kind of a school strike (that school children would do something on the schoolyards or in the classrooms). That idea was inspired by the Parkland Students, who had refused to go to school after the school shootings.
I liked the idea of a school strike. So I developed that idea and tried to get the other young people to join me, but no one was really interested. They thought that a Swedish version of the Zero Hour march was going to have a bigger impact. So I went on planning the school strike all by myself and after that I didn’t participate in any more meetings.”
On Friday, on the 20th of August 2018, Greta skipped school and instead went to protest the government’s lack of climate action. She posted a photo on Instagram and Twitter of herself, sitting alone outside Sweden’s Parliament. Greta continued to strike for weeks, continuously going to school for four days a week, and on Friday she’d protest. She soon gained media attention and her strike went viral.
And since then, in just 14 months, her school strike for climate has grown enormously. Just over a month ago, on the 20th of September, 4 million people participated in another School Strike 4 Climate. 300, 000 people alone protested in Australia and the strike involved 161 countries all over the world.
However, it hasn’t been all sunshine in Greta’s quick rise to fame through her activism. She receives many hate filled comments daily, with people saying that “she’s just a child, why should we listen to children?” and shaming her because she has Aspergers. They question how she can be doing what she is with her ‘disease’. But in her own words “Aspergers is not a disease, it’s a gift. People also say that since I have Asperger I couldn’t possibly have put myself in this position. But that’s exactly why I did this. Because if I would have been ”normal” and social I would have organized myself in an organisation, or started an organisation by myself. But since I am not that good at socializing I did this instead.”
Many people claim that “she’s causing fear by asking us to panic”. However, she words it perfectly saying,
“I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.
And then I want you to act.
I want you to act as you would in a crisis.
I want you to act as if our house is on fire.
Because it is.”
Because that is the reality of the climate change crisis. We must act now if we want any hope of having a safe, liveable future. If we want any hope of continuing as a civilisation.
Greta isn’t saying all of this just for the sake of saying it. She isn’t saying it just to spread unnecessary fear. She’s consulted with multiple scientists to be certain that all of the facts she uses in her speech are correct.
Greta has grown from being a girl, sitting alone on the steps of the Swedish Parliament holding a homemade banner that read “skolstrejk för klimatet” (school strike for climate), to starting the biggest climate change protest in history. She’s brought climate change to the very forefront of politics and stood up to countless world leaders. She’s spoken at the U.N. Climate Action Summit of 2019, telling some of the most powerful people in the world;
"You are failing us.
But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal.
The eyes of all future generations are upon you.
And if you choose to fail us,
I say: We will never forgive you."
"We will not let you get away with this.
Right here, right now is where we draw the line.
The world is waking up.
And change is coming, whether you like it or not."
Greta’s managed to empower millions of young people all over the globe to fight for what we believe in. She’s our climate change warrior. She’s an inspiration to all the youth of today. She’s the best thing to ever happen to the global climate change crisis.