Greta Thunberg’s activism sparks wave of change


Illustration by Kaila Holland

Noah Kayaian , Staff Writer

On Sept. 20, more than 4 million students across the world, including students at ETHS, joined 16 year old climate change activist Greta Thunberg and walked out of school, protesting climate change.

Thunberg, a Sweden native, started protesting in 2018 at 15 by sitting outside of her school with a sign that read “Skolstrejk För Klimatet,” which translates in English to “School Strike for the Climate.” After watching  a documentary on climate change at the age of 8, Thunberg fell into a state of anxiety and started to have her thoughts overrun by climate change statistics and images. 

“To know she goes through multiple challenges daily, […] makes her cause more inspiring,” junior Josie Hansen states.

Thunberg attributed this to her selective mutism and Aspergers during her Ted Talk in Stockholm in January of this year. Thunberg felt the need to do something. At first, she protested alone. Slowly, however, the media began to pick  up her story, and soon Thunberg was joined by other students from around the world, who believe and demand the same thing as her: climate action. Many young people see her as a leader and a sign of hope for the future. 

“She [Thunberg] isn’t [faking] anything she says,” Bella Hubbard, one of the senior organizers of the Sept. 20 walkout, says. 

In an interview with NPR about what she wants from politicians, Thunberg summed up the lack of action by stating, “In Sweden, when we demand politicians to do something, they say, ‘It doesn’t matter what we do — because just look at the U.S.’”

The lack of action regarding climate change across the U.S. can be attributed to many politicians and their policies regarding climate action. In Congress, 28 percent of all politicians do not believe that human action is directly affecting the climate, according to the Center for American Progress Action Fund, thus leading to the lack of action on the subject.  

“It is on all of us to fight this crisis,” Hubbard adds. 

Many teens alongside Thunberg have realized that climate change will affect their future and their kids’ futures and through Thunberg’s passion and dedication, have determined they need to act now. 

Although many teens stand with Greta, some people of previous generations disagree with Thunberg, President Donald Trump has even credited climate change to be a hoax, as reported by Time.

 What the message Thunberg is trying to explain—that many public figures like Trump aren’t understanding—is that climate change is caused by people, and there are many simple methods that could be used to solve this problem that aren’t being taken. Thanks to her action and push for others to take action earlier this year, Thunberg was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for all her work she has done towards climate change. If she wins, she would be the youngest ever winner.  Currently, anti-violence and equal education advocate Malala Yousafzai is the youngest winner.

According to an Intergovernmental Panel report on climate change, the planet has 12 years to solve climate change before it becomes irreversible. That gives us until about 2030 until climate change has run its course to an extent that it becomes irreversible. 

The age of the current senators averages out at 61 years and 292 days, the oldest average in U.S. history, so this issue may not be as relevant for them. However, Thunberg, along with many other activists of Gen-Z, will be relatively young compared to some politicians who may not even be around to see the effects. 

“They’re older people deciding our future, and when nobody is going to take control, then we have to,” junior Mia Houseworth states. 

Many teenagers and younger politicians will see these effects, most of who support action against climate change and are doing what needs to be done to save the planet. The lack of climate change action by politicians across the world calls for other people to stand up and lead the future leaders. Without people voicing their opinions, they won’t be able to see the change they want to see.

As Hubbard put it, “They’ve [politicians] been failing to act, and without the active voice of the public holding them accountable, nothing will get done.”