Climate change is the largest threat to our safety as a species, and we have little time to reverse its effects – 15 years, in fact. If we don’t act now, there won’t be a tomorrow. No more polar bears, bees, plants, and eventually, humans. No more post-apocalyptic movies to scare us into action. The facts are clearer than ever. Resources are being harvested faster than they can be replaced. We’re living in an economic system that prioritises the buying and selling of goods as the primary source of all social unfolding. And those profiting from this buying and selling don’t care about the climate, because, well, they’re getting rich off its destruction. Luckily, some plucky kids are hoping to change the world – particularly one bold Swedish teenager, called Greta Thunberg.
On the 14th March, it was announced that Greta Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her services to Climate activism. If you haven’t heard her name by now, you’ve certainly seen her face somewhere. Her TED talk went viral and so did her speech at Davos (a town in the Swiss Alps, host of the infamous World Economic Forum). If she won the prize, she’d be usurping Malala Yousafzai as the youngest winner of the prize, at only 16 years old. She was nominated for the prize by three Norwegian MPs. “We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change, it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees,” MP Freddy Andre Ovstegard told AFP news agency. He added, “Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace.”
What started out as a solo protest in Sweden has taken her to TED, the UN, and Davos. Now, she’s leading thousands of young people in a historic mass strike against climate change. At Davos’s World Economic Forum, she gave a blistering speech, saying, “Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we all have created, but that is not true. Because if everyone is guilty then no one is to blame. And someone is to blame. Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular, have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.”
She’s been travelling Europe – not by plane, though – giving the leaders of the world a piece of her mind. And what a mind she has. Though it’s not been an easy journey. Many say that climate change is too far gone, many say that it isn’t really a problem anyway. Theresa May even had the audacity to mock the striking teens, as if she’s not part of the problem. It’s too big a problem, it’s too complicated. She’s only 16, what does she know? But Thunberg’s laying down the facts and making all the politicians and economists look stupid. What a hero.
And what does Greta Thunberg think of this ridicule she’s faced? “We fight for our future. It doesn’t help if we have to fight the adults too,” Thunberg told the Hong Kong Educational Beaurau. “We are going to change the fate of humanity, whether you like it or not.” It’s inspiring to see someone so determined to change the world. She has this bold enthusiasm that gets people on her side, despite her being from a generation that’s been condemned as a vain, selfie-stick waving one.
The ones older than us have been ploughing our economies into further environmental destruction for the sake of gross wealth and inequality. And they’ve done it all, hoping we wouldn’t notice. Thunberg is leading the movement of young people who’re unfazed by what their elders think of them. They’re aware that there’s something more important at stake, here. Everyone loves to say that young people are tomorrow’s leaders. But there won’t be a tomorrow if we don’t act now. The young people on strike seem all too aware of this.
The 15th March marks the day Thunberg has been planning for: the biggest strike across the globe, demanding change in the way things are done. According to Fridays For Future, there are almost 500 events that will take place across 51 countries, mainly centring young people. To put that into perspective, the historic women’s march of 2016 went to 81 countries. Not bad for a 16-year-old. So expect to see the strikes in the news, as kids from Australia to Japan to France walk out demanding change.
But the protests don’t stop there. After all, what use is marching in the street if nothing’s actually going to be done? Greta Thunberg has big plans. According to an article in The New Yorker, she’s already made swift changes to her personal life. She’s vegan, she stopped buying things unless they’re absolutely necessary. Her family have also started growing their own vegetables and riding bikes everywhere. She’s leading by example; something our politicians seem to be incapable of doing. She even told European commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker that the EU must reduce their CO2 emissions by at least 80% in the next 10 years, and she seems to have good ideas about how to get there.
Sometimes it’s weird to see someone far younger than yourself doing such monumental things, but you soon get over it. The struggle is much bigger than that. It used to be that climate change was something only hippies who wore hemp gave a damn about. Now it’s nearly every single young person and a select few elder ones who don’t have the GDP lining their ear canals.
Her winning the prize would demonstrate a global shift towards acting on climate change. In the wake of Malala’s win in 2014, huge moves have been made to make sure girls have access to education. If the same level of fervour could be applied to reversing the effects of climate change, the world might just be a better place for it. Let’s hope she wins. As Thunberg says, the world is changing whether we like it or not. So, let’s act and make sure it’s a good kind of change.
Written by Rochelle Asquith