Inspired by the actions of teen activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. who organized the March For Our Lives, Greta Thunberg began a school climate strike. The Swedish teen was 15 when she began a movement that demands action to be taken to combat global warming and help the environment.
After heat waves and wildfires struck Sweden, Thunberg vowed to not attend school until after the 2018 Sweden General Election. Demanding that the government reduce carbon emissions, she sat outside the Riksdag every day during school hours. Once the elections ended, she continued to strike only on Fridays.
Thunberg still strikes regularly outside of Swedish Parliament. In addition to her protests, Thunberg has spoken to and addressed a number of groups including the “Declaration of Rebellion” organized by Extinction Rebellion, the COP24 United Nations climate change summit and the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Before this, she had just been asked to speak at a climate change rally, and because her speech was persuasive, delivered with perfect English and encouraging of spreading the message all over, she has been able to relay her important message to thousands.
Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and selective mutism at age 11, Thunberg sees things a little differently; She is able to strip away social distractions and focus on the issues at hand.
Thunberg has said, “Some people can let things go, I can’t.’
This is the reason she is so persistent and unchanging on her environmental activism. Thunberg realized that the rules needed to be changed, and she acted. Her work has prompted hundreds of thousands of students all over the world to skip school and strike for environmental action.
Now, the School Climate Strike, also known as Youth for Climate, Fridays for Future and Youth Strike 4 Climate, has spread in to hundreds of cities. In Australia, thousands of students have starting striking on Fridays, prompting Prime Minister Scott Morrison to say, “More learning in schools and less activism.”
In addition, during the year 2018, strikes continued in 270 cities all over the world in countries including the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Japan. So far in 2019, the number of locations has increased and spread to countries like New Zealand and Colombia. On Jan. 17, a total of 45,000 students struck in Switzerland and Germany alone. School Climate Strikes on Fridays have even taken place in the United States; Greta’s influence is that strong.
Thunberg’s work is so significant because of how far she is reaching. A young teenage girl was able to encourage hundreds of thousands to join her in fighting for the earth. Because so many adults are failing to act, us young people have to, and Thunberg is showing youth how to do just that.