Greta Thunberg is the 16 year old Swedish environmental activist behind the climate strikes that are sweeping the globe. Last year Greta decided to protest the governments inaction on climate change by sitting on the steps of the Parliament building in Stockholm. What started in Sweden soon spread throughout Scandinavia, then to Europe, Britain and Australia. Now it seems as though the whole world is taking part including countries like China, Tanzania, Vanuatu, Cuba, and Pakistan.
The climate strike scheduled for March 15th is expected to be the biggest yet with events planned around the world including in the US and Canada. Hundreds of thousands of students are expected to take part in 1325 strikes in 98 countries. Just ahead of the event Greta tweeted, "Everyone is needed. Everyone is welcome. Please spread the word!"
"We are striking because our world leaders have yet to acknowledge, prioritize, or properly address our climate crisis," reads a mission statement from the U.S. organizers. They support the Green New Deal and they want government to declare a national emergency to deal with the crisis. They point to the recent UN Emissions Gap Report that says we have 11 years to avoid catastrophic warming.
In an LA Times opinion piece Haven Coleman and Bill McKibben call the strikes "a truancy everyone should applaud". They explain that the climate strikes have been necessitated by the failure of the adults to heed the science and stop burning fossil fuels. They point out that we have known about the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change for decades and yet we did nothing.
The youth campaigner grabbed headlines when she chastised adults for their inaction at COP24 in Poland and the WEF in Switzerland. Greta has been recognized as GMOs Person of the Year, TIME’s Most Influential Teens of 2018 and she was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The climate strike is supported by major environmental organizations, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Extinction Rebellion, the Sunrise Movement, Greenpeace, March for Science, Sierra Club, and 350.org.
Ever the realist, Greta is focused on what matters. "I am not more hopeful than when I started. The emissions are increasing and that is the only thing that matters. I think that needs to be our focus. We cannot talk about anything else," Greta told The Guardian.
"I think we are only seeing the beginning. I think that change is on the horizon and the people will stand up for their future," Thunberg said. "It's going to be very, very big internationally, with hundreds of thousands of children going to strike from school to say that we aren't going to accept this any more."
Adults must own the disturbing reality that they have failed future generation. However, the frank talk and powerful actions of this 16 year old climate leader gives us hope that we may still have a chance.
Visit FridaysForFuture.org for more information.
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