School Strike for Climate – and the Girl Behind the Movement
April 16th 2019
Greta Thunberg is now a name known world-over. She started to make herself and her cause known in August 2018 after protesting about climate change outside of the Swedish Parliament House each Friday. On Friday the 15th of March millions of people around the world joined Greta in protest, who herself joined a march in Brussels. Many joined her previously in February. In April, activists protesting under the banner of Extinction Rebellion blocked off entire streets in London.
Miss Thunberg said at a TED talk “everyone keeps saying that climate change is an existential threat, and the most important issue of all, and yet they just carry on like before.
“If the emissions have to stop, then we must stop the emissions. To me that is black or white.”
This is a growing mindset amongst the young of today. Across the UK, around 50,000 students – those who will come to live the problems ignited by the generations that they are inheriting the world from – were absent from their classes on March the 15th. Every month protests are being planned, with turnouts routinely in the tens of thousands.
I joined a protest in March through Canterbury. Consisting mainly of young people, it was both worrying and inspiring that these were the people who were deciding to act. Inspiring, as they were so young but had such passion for the cause they were fighting for. Worrying, as they might be a generation too late.
Everybody there was enjoying themselves; the undertone denoted a slight air of foreboding, however. Upon reaching the bandstand, the children took turns speaking with a megaphone. I was amazed at both the eloquence and yearning with which those children spoke. With few countries on track to achieve the goals set out by the Paris Agreement, and the United States – the second largest polluter – pulling out all together, one begins to understand where this passion comes from.
Many schools were quick to condemn students playing truant to go to marches, even if the student was accompanied by their parents. Schools argue that the education they provide, allowing their students to better understand and communicate the issues they will come to face, is the most effective way for these children to make a difference. Miss Thunberg noted that scientists have been warning the world of the impending doom that is climate change for decades.
Until turning 18, the expectation is a focus solely on education. The school these children go to, the classes they take – it is a huge part of who they are. There is no more impactful way for them to display their displeasure and anger at their forebears than sacrifice their education to do so. These children have to act now.
Miss Thunberg said “We’ve had 30 years of pep-talking and selling positive ideas.
“It doesn’t work. If it would have, the emissions would have gone down by now. They haven’t.”
She is a role-model for young political activists. She is a figurehead for climate demonstrators. She is a 16-year-old Nobel peace prize nominee – and Greta is doing all she can to inspire the world to join her in her cause.