Young climate activist proves to be important voice amidst crisis


Courtesy of Creative Commons

“I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back at school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you,” Thunberg said at the United Nations Climate Action Summit.

Children’s opinions often get put aside as they are seen as immature and lacking in credibility. This shouldn’t be the case for sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg. While she is only sixteen, she has done more for the environment than many middle-aged political officials could ever get close to. 

Thunberg first learned about climate change at the age of 11. She didn’t quite understand it but knew it was wrong. More importantly, she knew it was real and something had to be done about it, which is already more than what can be said about our current administration. 

The young activist started protesting outside of the Swedish parliament to call for action regarding global warming at the age of 15. She encouraged other students to join in and even inspired a weekly climate strike across the globe. 

Thunberg’s complaints did not go unheard at home in Sweden. Swedish Railways reported that the number of citizens riding the train rose by 8% in June. This reflects the growing concern of carbon emissions from plane travel caused by Thunberg’s refusal to fly to international conferences.

Thunberg’s public speaking repertoire is filled to the brim, including reputable conventions such as Extinction Rebellion, TEDxStockholm, COP24 summit, Austrian World Summit R20, New York’s Global Climate Strike, Montreal’s Global Climate Strike and most famously at this year’s UN Climate Action Summit.

A few  of Thunberg’s additional accomplishments include being featured on the cover of Time magazine, publishing a collection of her climate action speeches, “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference,” getting featured on The 1975’s song, “The 1975,” receiving the Normandy Freedom Prize and having a documentary made about her titled, “Make The World Greta Again”

In response to her efforts, many politicians have shared their support of the sixteen-year-old. Britain’s secretary for the environment, Michael Gove, stated, “When I listened to you, I felt great admiration, but also responsibility and guilt. I am of your parents’ generation, and I recognize that we haven’t done nearly enough to address climate change and the broader environmental crisis that we helped to create.”

Thunberg has also caused a change in the communities she’s spoken to. After speaking at Extinction Rebellion, a YouGov poll in Britain found that public concern about the environment had reached a record high.

While Thunberg has worked to change policy and feelings in a larger sense, she also recognizes the importance of our everyday choices. At home, she has convinced her parents to adopt several environmentally friendly practices, including giving up air travel and going vegan.

Children are often seen as our future. They’re our future doctors, scientists, artists, politicians, and leaders. So why aren’t people listening to Thunberg? Why does her age make her any less credible when she’s done more than the current climate-denying administration? 

Many listen to the words of politicians and late-night talk show hosts that deny climate change. These people are uneducated on the topic and are only looking to keep their wallets full. Why is it so hard to believe Thunberg? Is it because she’s not rich? Because she’s not a white man? Whatever the reason, it is wrong. Thunberg is saying what the world has been needing to hear for a very long time, so we better listen.