Pollution and excess use of natural resources are just two of the many environmental issues that are dooming the future of the Earth each and every day. These actions are still occurring all over the world even with the knowledge that they will consequently have detrimental effects. But why do we still execute these acts? Greta Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old Swedish activist, has been asking this question in the course of her life and is bringing this prevalent question into the light to audiences of all ages.
In her TED talk, Thunberg explained that the first time she heard of climate change, she wondered how this enormous issue was not discussed on the news or on TV, and why no laws were placed to ban things like the burning of fossil fuels. She was confused because nothing was being done to stop this danger when it had the potential to destroy the future of all known kind. And at the time, she fell into a state of depression seeing that there was no hope for her years to come and saw there was no point in living. But, she then realized that she could be the change that the world needs to see and immediately sprung into action. She started off skipping school, protesting weekly in front of the Swedish Parliament building holding a sign that said “School Strike for Climate Change.” With this simple action, she gained attention from thousands of supporters, news reporters, and adversaries.
Many of her followers also consist of students who have become influenced by Thunberg’s inspiring cry for change. For example, schools in Belgium, Japan, and Australia have expressed their desire to spark environmental reforms by holding marches and school walkouts. Thunberg has also msanaged to arouse enough people to have a worldwide strike on March 15th with over 50 countries participating.
“I admire[s] her courage and bravery, even people three times her age haven’t achieved as much as she has. And I think that it’s great that the youth are acknowledging and wanting to solve the problems of today,” said Thomas Mohan, a Wayne Hills History teacher,
Despite her huge following, she has also received backlash, especially from an older audience. Articles and comments say that she has no idea what state the Earth is in and how much it would take to enforce the acts and laws she is demanding. They also oppose the fact that students including Thunberg are skipping school to protest. The activist rebuttals that there is no reason to get an education and prepare for a job when the future will not exist. Others also criticize Thunberg for her parents exploiting her and being the act behind the sixteen-year-old activist. In response to these controversies, Greta Thunberg fights back explaining that her motives are purely her own and that her parents did not in any way influence her actions but rather she influenced them.
She also carried her fierce attitude and bearing at in her speech at the United Nations where she comes out with a bold and impactful statement: “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children.”
In this quote, she is referring to climate change negotiators who have ignored this paramount issue at hand. She explains further in her speech that because of them, future generations would have to face the repercussions if no reforms are taken place.
Greta Thunberg has now been recognized as the face of the youth and their protests for climate change. And while writing this article, I was astonished to see how one person can manage to move the world and inspire it for the better. And I think we could all learn from the activist, that we can be the change we want to see in the world today if we have the determination and perseverance to do so.
“It is still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision, it will take courage, it will take fierce, fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations where we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling. In other words, it will take cathedral thinking. I ask you to please wake up and make changes required possible.” – Greta Thunberg