Here is a brief excerpt from my book about Greta Thunberg:
She was 15 years old, a student attending school in her native Sweden. The more she learned about the threat of global warming, the increasingly alarmed she became. The issue haunted her for several years.
Greta Thunberg decided the inaction of her government’s leaders as well as those of other countries in the face of this dire threat was intolerable. So, in September 2018, by herself, she went on strike — she ditched school and demonstrated outside Swedish Parliament in Stockholm. Her sign read School Strike for Climate. And she was active on social media. Over several weeks her protest caught on. The #ClimateStrike movement grew out of that direct action — and spread with lightning speed.
On October 20, she spoke before 10,000 people in Helsinki. It became Finland's largest ever climate demonstration. She “urged marchers to fight for the major systemic changes that experts have said are necessary to limit greenhouse gas emissions and avert a looming climate catastrophe. ‘The politics that's needed to prevent the climate catastrophe — it doesn't exist today. We need to change the system.’"[i]
In December, Greta Thunberg, this 15-year-old student who just three months earlier decided to stop going to school and begin a protest against her government, addressed COP24, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland. In January, she spoke to the world's most powerful and wealthy political and business leaders convening at Davos, Switzerland, “harshly criticizing them for amassing huge wealth with the help of pollution-causing industries, to the detriment of future generations.” In February, Greta was in Brussels joining a 7th week of protests by Belgian children skipping school. While there, she spoke before the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Union, standing beside her, then announced for the budget period of 2021-2027, 25% of the European Union budget — over $250 billion — will be allocated to mitigating global warming.[ii]
In an open letter on March 1, 2019, two weeks before their “Global Day of Action,”, #ClimateStrike activists wrote, “We, the young, are deeply concerned about our future. Humanity is currently causing the sixth mass extinction of species and the global climate system is at the brink of catastrophic crisis… We will no longer accept this injustice… We finally need to treat the climate crisis as a crisis. It is the biggest threat in human history and we will not accept the world’s decision-makers’ inaction that threatens our entire civilization. We will not accept life in fear and devastation… You have failed us in the past. If you continue failing us in the future, we, the young people, will make change happen by ourselves. The youth of this world has started to move and we will not rest again.”[iii]
On March 15, 2019 over 1.6 million students in over 2,000 locations in 133 countries participated in Climate Strike protests.[iv] On May 24, over 1.8 million people in 125 countries took part in a global climate strike.[v]
Greta Thunberg had turned 16 years old, when, on March 14th she learned that she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
© 2019 by Stephen Erickson
[i] Jessica Corbett, Teen Climate Activist to Crowd of Thousands: ‘We Can’t Save the World by Playing by the Rules Because the Rules have to Change’, Common Dreams, Oct. 20, 2018, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/10/20/teen-climate-activist-crowd-thousands-we-cant-save-world-playing-rules-because-rules
[ii] Clare Roth, Swedish Student Leader Wins EU Pledge to Spend Billions on Climate, Reuters, Feb. 21, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-teen-activist-idUSKCN1QA1RF
[iii] #ClimateStrike, Climate Crisis and a Betrayed Generation, The Guardian, Mar. 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/01/youth-climate-change-strikers-open-letter-to-world-leaders
[iv] Louise Hazan, Massive School Strikes Worldwide, The 350.org Team, Mar. 16, 2019, https://350.org/page/3/
[v] Julia Conley, As Millions March to Demand Climate Action, Research Reveals Protests Make People More Optimistic About Effecting Change, Common Dreams, May 24, 2019, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/05/24/millions-march-demand-climate-action-research-reveals-protests-make-people-more?