Updated: Mar 15, 2021
"As it is now, people in general don't seem to be very aware of the actual science and how serious this crisis is, I think we need to inform them and start treating the crisis like the existential threat it is."
Greta Thunberg is a teenager that is changing the world. By the age of 15 she has started a worldwide school strike, spoken at a United Nations conference, sparked worldwide protest and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Starting Her Activism
Greta Thunberg was born on 3 January 2003 in Sweden, it was when she was 8 years old that she heard a Ted talk on climate change and couldn't understand why no one was doing anything about it, why did nobody care? She was so upset that at he age of 11 she became so depressed that she stopped talking. When her family took her to doctors to find out what was wrong they said that she had Asperger syndrome, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), and selective mutism. With selective mutism she was speaking only when she needed to and when she felt that "now is one of those moments" she would speak. This is how she felt about climate change. Having Asperger syndrome meant that she was on the autism spectrum, that she thinks and sees thing differently from most people. She felt that being on the "spectrum" was an advantage as "almost everything is black or white". Thunberg has said: "I feel like I am dying inside if I don't protest".
When you want to change something you have a be a living example of doing the right thing but Greta doesn't just take action herself, she has made her family make changes too. To lower her family's carbon footprint, she made them become vegan and give up flying. She said she persuaded her parents to give up eating meat by making them feel guilty. "I kept telling them that they were stealing our future." Her mother also gave up her international career as an opera singer so that she didn't have to fly. Despite invitations to speak at international events, Greta also doesn't fly anywhere; instead she will use trains and boats to get to events, sailing around the world when she has to.
When Greta decided that going on strike from school would be the most powerful thing that she could do to draw awareness to her activism and the plight of the planet she tried to get other children to join her. When no one was interested she decided to just go ahead and strike on her own.
On 20th August 2018, Greta, who had just started ninth grade, decided to not attend school until the 2018 Swedish general election on 9th September, this happened during heat waves and wildfires during Sweden's hottest summer in 262 years. Her demands were that the Swedish government reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement, she protested by sitting outside the Riksdag every day for three weeks during school hours with the sign Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for the climate). After the election she continues to strike on Fridays and children around the world started to join her in their own countries bringing global press attention to what she was doing. As of December 2018, more than 20,000 students had held strikes in at least 270 cities across the world. By March 2019 she was still staging her regular protests outside the Swedish parliament building every Friday, where other students now occasionally joined her. Her activism hasn't interfered with her schoolwork, but she has had less spare time as she makes up the time lost to protesting.
"Over 4 million on #Climatestrike today. In 163 countries. And counting... If you belong to the small number of people that feel threatened by us, then we have some very bad news for you: this is just the beginning. Change is coming - like or not. #FridaysForFuture"
Spreading The Message To The World
Greta took part in the Rise for Climate demonstration outside the European Parliament in Brussels. In London in October 2018, she spoke at the 'Declaration of Rebellion' organised by Extinction Rebellion opposite the Houses of Parliament. She said: "We're facing an immediate unprecedented crisis that has never been treated as a crisis and our leaders are all acting like children. We need to wake up and change everything".
Before that in May 2018 Greta was one of the winners of Svenska Dagbladet's debate article writing competition on the climate for young people. Greta was nominated for the electricity company Telge Energi's prize for children and young people who promote sustainable development, Children's Climate Prize, but turned the nomination down as the finalists would have to fly to Stockholm and she refuses to fly anywhere.
In 2019 Greta was announced to be the most important woman of the year in Sweden on International Women's Day and on the 31st March 2019, she received the German Goldene Kamera Special Climate Protection award.
The Greta Effect
Greta Thunberg has received many awards and accolades, she has spoken all over the world, whether in person having traveled by boat or train or by speaking on the phone or using Skype. Children, people, the press and politicians are paying attention to what she says and does and changes are happening that will have a positive effect on the future of the planet. There are more protests, authors are writing books, children are using their power to highlight this massive problem of global warming and climate change. Groups like Extinction Rebellion have received money from millionaires and billionaires that have been inspired by Greta's actions. European politicians have set aside billions of pounds to be invested in reducing carbon emissions and solving climate change.
The world needs more people like Greta; what she has done is amazing. She has found a way to bring about massive change without sacrificing herself. She's not starved, hurt or compromised herself, she even kept up with her school work. The thing is, she's right, certainly about grownups. For too long the planet was hurting because of human actions and, instead of changing our ways, we carried on. We drove our cars, flew around on huge planes, drank from plastic bottles using plastic straws, eating food that was grown on the other side of the world. We did it because we liked doing what we felt like, and the future was paying the price. If every time you charged your phone you got a slap in the face you'd make the battery last longer. If every time you brought a new coat because you simply liked it, even though you know you don't need it, someone cut off one of your fingers you'd cope with the coat you already had and this is the problem. You charge your phone today and your children that will get the slap in the face as floods wash their houses away. Buy the coat and it's someone in another country that has a finger chopped off when drought destroys their food, we don't suffer the consequences.
Global warming is a real thing and it is up to everyone do something about it. Below I have links to some posts that talk about everyday things that contribute to harming the planet, take a look and spread the word, this problem isn't going to solve itself.