Opinion

Greta Thunberg and the Battle Against Climate Change

Greta Thunberg’s name is appearing in our newsfeeds, social media feeds and conversations with our friends. However, if her name is not familiar to you, let me fill you in. Greta is a 16-year-old from Sweden who has, over the past year, become quite the face of climate change activism. In 2018, the young woman launched the Fridays For Future movement. Fridays For Future encourages students of all ages from every continent to demand government action regarding climate change. At 15 years old, she sat on the steps of her country’s parliament building in mid-September every day during school hours for a span of three weeks, according to The New Yorker. Greta has since returned to school for four days out of the week but continues to strike on the parliament steps each Friday.

            Greta first became passionate about climate change in third grade when her teacher explained it to her class. Her immediate thoughts were, “If humans could really change the climate, everyone would be talking about it and people wouldn’t be talking about anything else. But this wasn’t happening,” according to The New Yorker. Greta has become so dedicated to change her actions in order to affect change that she gave up meat, refuses to buy anything she deems unnecessary, doesn’t fly on airplanes, uses solar batteries, grows her own vegetables at home, rides her bike everywhere and uses an electric car when necessary. When Greta made the commitment to speak at the UN’s Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept. 23, she declared that she would make the trip in a zero-carbon yacht. This young woman demanded to take a two-week journey by boat instead of an eight-and-a-half-hour flight to save 1,000kgs of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Greta chose values over convenience, and I commend that.

            Greta’s name has been appearing more since her four-and-a-half-minute speech addressed to the UN’s Climate Action Summit. According to the New York Times, she delivered a fiery speech about her position on climate change, despite several hate comments to her face and via news networks and social media. Greta stated, “People are dying; entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can think about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?” She chastised political leaders who talk about change but never affect it.

            Thunberg is convinced that idle politicians and ignorant individuals will bring that end of the world as we know it. She is compelled by the scientific research regarding climate change and is urging us to pay attention to what it is saying. Thunberg comments that, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are “less than twelve years away from not being able to undo our mistakes.” Thunberg goes so far as to say that corporations and industries are aware of their impact on climate change but continue to make poor decisions in order to make more money. Thunberg stands beside science, and science is undeniable. The climate is being affected, and it seems as if bringing it to the public eye is doing little to the systemic changes. Is the conversation of climate change being met with apathy?

Since the beginning of Greta’s Fridays For Future movement, she has engaged more than a million students across the globe, given a Ted Talk, spoken at UN summits, received a nomination for the Nobel peace prize and engaged with millions on social media. I’m listening. Are you?