Social media tends to distract its consumers from real-world problems. Internet trolls can make life-threatening issues into jokes and discredit the magnitude of real problems. Therefore, many ignore the increasing intensity of natural weather disasters occurring around the world and their connections to environmental degradation. People prefer to focus on an assumed future rather than on what is happening now, especially when they do not believe climate change is affecting them right now. However, there will be no future to worry about if we do not take steps to stop or at least slow down global warming immediately. Climate has changed over time, but we should not disregard the amount of human contribution in the acceleration of global warming and in the drastic intensification of planet climate related disasters. Many are just standing by as they watch the devastation of other region. Yet, some have taken more than drastic actions to address this tragedy, one activist is Greta Thunberg. A young teenager teaching everyone around the world that it does not take a lot to make our voices heard. Recently, she led over eleven million people to take action to slow down the number of forests that are being destroyed and to slow the extinction of already endangered species. The current leader of the biggest protest against global warming is only now seventeen years old.1
At seven years old, Greta Thunberg, learned about global warming. She could not stand being part of the problem and decided to work on a solution becoming the youngest Swedish activist. Her teacher had introduced her to climate change by assigning a book.2 Thunberg was instantly hooked. She became aware that the warming of our planet was due to an increase in greenhouse gasses, primarily as a result of human activity. This devastated her, she thought it was too horrible and that there must be someone doing something about it. However, to her surprise, nothing was being done. At fifteen years old, Thunberg began to take action by writing a sign “school strike for climate” and sat in front of the Swedish parliament to protest what she felt so passionate about3 This small act of protest grew into an effective movement and became the first of many strikes around the world. Thunberg created a revolution by standing up for and becoming part of the solution.
Her movement caught people’s attention and has grown to a worldwide action network that combines young school children and their parents and grand parents. Greta began informing her own community and asking them to take a stance and to act when most were not aware yet about climate change.4 Thunberg continued her advocacy and while she tries to avoid traveling, she now has people all over the world sharing her same values. Thunberg started to think bigger, she informed herself of what countries were polluting the most. Thunberg learned that Argentina, Brazil, France, Turkey, and Germany were some of the major contributors of carbon and greenhouse gas pollution in the world. So, she began a lawsuit against these five countries which claims that carbon-polluting countries are violating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 5 She travels by land and oceans, instead of by airplanes that produce the highest levels of greenhouse gases. During these trips, she gives interviews to well known shows where she explains more of her concerns and why she began this movement. In one of the shows she mentioned that she began this movement with the thought of “even if I can’t make that big of a difference in this issue, I could look at myself in the mirror and know I did something.”6 Thunberg never forgets to express her frustrations about how the people in charge, are leaving her generation with the mess they created and that they continue to worsen. She is saddened about the amounts of forests that are being destroyed and animals are going extinct because of human activity.
Greta Thunberg impacts positively the lives of so many others around the world while battling her own challenges with Asperger’s Syndrome. Although, she does mention how being in the autism spectrum is such a gift because this allows her to think outside of the box and think of solutions for issues in different ways. She continues leading youths and adults to participate in the climate strike for change in over one hundred and fifty countries, including the United States. Thunberg received the support of millions of people globally. This does not minimize her anger when she remembers that government leaders do not care about how so many major businesses are overheating the planet. She gave a now-famous speech “How Dare You” in the United Nations meeting, she tells politicians “People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing.”7 “We are at the beginning of mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of endless economic growth. How dare you!”8. After this impactful speech, she continues inspiring youths by being a positive influence and showing us that no matter your age or the amount of money you have, you need to stand up for what you know is right. Thunberg gets emotional when she talks about how she does not think politicians are taking her seriously because of how young she is. She mentions in her speeches quite often how unfair they are being towards the next generation. Changes need to be made because they have ruined hers and all children’s childhood and have left a mess for the younger generations to clean up.9 Even President Trump noticed her movement. Although, he did share some sarcastic words towards Thunberg in one of his tweets he mentioned, “Greta must work on her anger management problem,” 10 The president could have possibly taken a different approach towards a teenager who is trying to make a positive impact in the world. If you ask me, I think it is great that she is using her anger in a passionate way that is benefiting us all.
Greta Thunberg continues her fight for progress, pushes for small actions to be implemented by the current leaders around the world. People hear her warnings and her call to action and discuss what a great impact she has been making in just under two years of activism. At only seventeen years old, Greta Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for 2020.11 She was also chosen as the person of the year 2019 by TIME’s Magazine 12 Thunberg gives tips on how to become more Eco-friendly giving us the chance to take action. While she has stopped flying to minimize green gas emissions, other solutions are more practical, she has become vegan, she has adopted the shop-stop philosophy (which is not buying anything unless you absolutely have to), but most importantly she continues communicating the importance of slowing climate change to people in power. Sometimes life gets in the way or we have other responsibilities that do not allow us to be as involved in movements we support. However, is it responsible to dismiss the very real impacts of global warming because these are merely inconveniences in our lives while climate change severely impacts millions around the world? We must start making small adjustments to our daily lives, if we are to hope for a better future.
- Aylin Woodward, Greta Thunberg turns 17 today. Here’s how she started a global climate movement in just 18 months (New York:2020). ↵
- After a lot of research, we have learned that Thunberg does not mention what this book was by name in any of her interviews in English. ↵
- Greta Thunberg (Wikipedia). ↵
- Charlotte Alter, Suyin Haynes, Justin Worland, The Power of Youth (New York:2019). ↵
- Olivia Goldhill, While Global Leaders Messed Around, Greta Thunberg and 15 Kids Got Down To Business (New York:2019). ↵
- Ellen DeGeneres, Join Greta Thunberg & the Climate Crisis Movement. (California:2019). ↵
- Emily Chasan, David Weiner, Teen Activist Greta Thunberg to World Leaders: ‘How Dare You! (California:2019). ↵
- Kalhan Rosenblatt, Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg delivers a scathing speech at U.N. (New York:2019). ↵
- John Queally, ‘We Have Not Come Here to Beg World Leaders to Care,’ 15-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Tells COP24. ‘We Have Come to Let Them Know Change Is Coming’ (Maine:2018). ↵
- Chris Cilliza, We should all be appalled by Donald Trump’s tweet about Greta Thunberg (New York:2019). ↵
- Aris Folley, Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel Peace Prize (Washington:2020). ↵
- Charlotte Alter, Suyin Haynes, Justin Worland, Person of the Year: Great Thunberg (New York: 2019). ↵