At just 15 years old, Greta Thurnberg is leading a revolution that’s growing beyond her home country of Sweden.
For a month and a half, instead of sitting in a classroom, Greta Thurnberg has been sitting on the steps of Sweden’s parliament building. Her full-time sit-in, which drew other students, lasted three weeks. Now it takes place just on Fridays during school hours.
Her laser-focused goal: To get lawmakers and society to act immediately on climate change.
According to a profile in the New Yorker, Thurnberg began her deep dive into climate change research at the age of nine. As a person on the autism spectrum, she has an uncanny ability to focus on one subject, and she’s spent the past six years learning about the science and politics of climate change.
Now, inspired by the activism of the Parkland, Florida students in the U.S., she’s taking her region’s leaders and fellow citizens to task.
She spoke to a crowd of 10,000 in Helsinki, telling them it’s time to change the rules.
Thurnberg has become the young face of the climate change activism movement in Scandinavia, and has clearly achieved her goal of getting people talking more about the issue.
On Saturday, October 20, she spoke to a crowd of 10,000 people at a climate march in Helsinki, Finland:
“Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every day,” she said. “There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground, so we can’t save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to change. Everything needs to change and it has to start today.”
“A lot of people say that Sweden or Finland are just small countries and that it doesn’t matter what we do,” Thunberg added. “But I think that if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could do together if we wanted to.”
Despite her calm and sweet delivery, Thurnberg pulls no punches with her blunt admonitions.
When you listen to her speak, Thurnberg’s tone might almost make you forget that she is essentially ripping the world a new one. She doesn’t pussyfoot around the fact that we are facing a climate catastrophe that we’d prefer to pretend doesn’t exist.
“This is a cry for help. To all the newspapers who have never treated the crisis as a crisis. To all the politicians that pretend to take the climate question seriously. To all of you who know but who choose to look the other way every day because you seem more frightened of the changes that can prevent catastrophic climate change than the catastrophic climate change itself. Your silence is almost the worst of all. The future of all the coming generations rests on your shoulders. What you do now we children can’t undo in the future.”
Alluding to criticism that she should be in school instead of protesting at parliament, Thurnberg laid out a pretty solid defense:
“Some people say that we should study to become climate scientists so that we can solve the climate crisis,” she said. “But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have the facts and solutions. All we need to do is wake up and change.”
“What is the point of learning facts within the school system,” she continued, “when the most important facts given by the science of that same school system clearly means nothing to our politicians and our society?”
Good question, Greta. Around the world, the kids seem to be leading the way in practically every way. Let’s just hope the adults are listening.