“I want you to act as if our house is on fire,” said 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, and she’s not wrong. Our planet is getting hotter, and temperatures are expected to rise by as much as 3ºC before the end of the century. Earlier this week Thunberg addressed over 150 people at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C, speaking about the current crisis. “This is, above all, an emergency, and not just any emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced and we need to treat it accordingly… Stop telling people ‘everything will be fine’… Stop pretending you, your business idea, your political party or plan will solve everything.”
For the past year, Greta Thunberg has become the face and driving force behind the climate strikes, after she decided not to attend school until the Swedish general election following Sweden’s hottest summer in 262 years and uncontrollable wildfires. She began her strike on August 20, 2018, and has been continuing her journey ever since. Now, thousands of children and young adults are joining her across the world to strike and achieve “climate justice.” The September 20th and September 27th 2019 climate strikes are taking place in over 150 countries, and is the biggest one to date.
1 year ago I started school striking for the climate outside the Swedish parliament, simply because something had to be done. Since then I have continued every Friday alongside millions of others. And we will go on for as long as it takes. #FridaysForFuture #SchoolStrike4climate pic.twitter.com/egpP5UjpHn
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) August 20, 2019
“At a time when so much is at stake but so little actioned, it’s fundamental that people come together and stand up against the giant forces rejecting basic common sense in climate change conversations,” says 22-year-old Dom Santry, co-founder of Daisie App, who is striking in London together with his team. “It has become very clear when looking at the turnout from previous marches that young people are extremely passionate about matters that will directly affect their future, so it is empowering to see so many people stand up and strike.” Dom is just one out of thousands of people striking in London, as well as 21-year-old Emily Bisgaard, who will also be taking to the streets in the British capital. “I first came aware of the strike when Greta Thunberg started protesting. I have been following her for so long and I truly think that she is a symbol for people all over the world. I think for a lot of people she made it seem like it was possible to make a difference,” she says, adding that “I struggle with how f*cked up our planet is and what I, as an individual, can actually do about it. I think that’s why the global climate strike is so important because it shows the power of how one person with one opinion can influence hundreds and thousands of people all over the world and eventually actually create change.”
“If the youth want to have a future, we need to take the situation into our own hands.”
Model and activist Emma Breschi has been vocal about the importance of the protest across her social media channels, encouraging people to learn more and join the strike. “Luckily, I think it’s safe to say that everyone is aware of the problems we are facing. However I think a lot of people feel alone or powerless to make change. Events like the Global Climate strike are a reminder that we are not alone, and in fact there are many of us that are united together who can make a difference in a very real way,” Breschi tells us, adding that “Unfortunately the youth have not been able to rely on older generations to stop this catastrophe from happening. If the youth want to have a future, we need to take the situation into our own hands. It’s the youth who are inheriting the problem at the end of the day. It’s not fair, but that’s the reality. We should help them rather than ignore it like you would say our parents generations have done.”
London has been one of the biggest strikes to-date, but the movement had spread all across the world. Lenny, 16, is striking in Aschersleben, Germany. He first joined the movement after hearing about it in the news and seeing it on TV, and has since taken part in the strikes. “I hope these strikes will open up the eyes of some politicians, these politicians have the power to guide us the right way,” he tells us, also adding that “if we don’t do something against these problems, who will?”
In Paris, 21-year-old Linus Berglund joins the strike after having become involved in climate issues during the past year. “If there is anything Greta has proved it’s that protesting works,” he tells us when asked why he’s joining the strikes. “You can do a lot to limit your personal carbon footprint, but to make the smallest dent in the larger emissions threatening our planet, you have to go to the top of the chain. And to do that, we have to join forces. Being at climate strikes in the past, the energy is infectious” he also adds, emphasizing that the strike isn’t just to get individuals to do more, but to put pressure on politicians all over the world.
“You must do the impossible. Because giving up can never ever be an option.”
Here is my full speech from the US Congress in print.https://t.co/8KCBeI3klW
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) September 19, 2019
The goal of the strike is to achieve “climate justice,” and strikers are demanding that the government pledges to abandon fossil fuels and switch to 100% renewable energy by next year. To achieve their goal, activists are pushing for both political and economic systems to be reformed. Like Linus said, “it quickly becomes clear that the power to make real change lies in the hands of the government and big corporations.”
“You are never too small to make a difference,” said Greta Thunberg, and her once small protest in August 2018 has become a world-wide movement supported by everyone from former U.S. President Barack Obama, to celebrities like Willow Smith and Leonardo DiCaprio. “The problem now is we need to wake up. It is time to wake up and face the facts, the reality, the science,” Thunberg said, and today she leads thousands – maybe even millions – of young people all over the world, demanding a change.
To learn more about the climate strike, head over to its official website, globalclimatestrike.net.
- Image Credit
- Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images