Young Activist For Climate Change Awareness, Greta Thunberg

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Young Activist For Climate Change Awareness, Greta Thunberg

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“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” scolded Greta Thunberg, as she sat in front of a large crowd, over a year later from when she sat alone. On August 20th,2018, Thunberg, a fifteen-year-old Swedish girl in grade nine, skipped school to sit outside the Parliament in Sweden to protest against the issue of climate change. She sat alone, hoping that her government would reduce their carbon emissions, in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement. Since then, people all over the world have joined in on protests from the United Kingdom to the United States.

“She’s been on her own. Most kids don’t care, you know- and she’s been on her own leaving school every Friday to go protest on the steps of the parliament,” freshman Taylor Repak says, who is also passionate about the environment and it hoping to make a change as well as Thunberg.

Thunberg, who sat in front of the UN Climate Action Summit on September 23, 2019, was close to tears as she cried, “Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth.”

Earth is already one degree Celsius hotter on average than it was one century ago, the changes mostly resulting from climate change. Many countries have taken the measure of cutting their carbon emissions in half but in her speech, Thunberg points out that this may not work to cool down the rising temperatures. 

“Climate change is real,” Biology teacher Lee Ann Harlambakis said. “It is happening. While some might argue that the Earth has experienced warming and cooling cycles throughout history, human activity is contributing to global temperature change in a manner that has never been seen before.” 

Evidence shows that Earth does go through natural warming and cooling cycles, but humans pumping chemicals like carbon dioxide (CO2) and pollutants into the air is causing climate change to increase at a faster pace.

“The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50 percent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees Celsius and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions is beyond human control,” Thunberg said, explaining how slim these chances for reversing climate change can potentially be. 

“50 percent may be acceptable to you but those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice,” she says, demonstrating that chances are even slimmer as climate change proceeds in the near future. 

“I believe that politicians need to take a much stronger role in combating global warming and climate change,” AP Human Geography  teacher, and Head Debate Coach Timothy Waters, said. “They need to be willing to take chances to benefit people in the long term.” 

Thunberg and many other students are taking action on the issue of global warming and climate change, but for large changes like reversing global warming, it would be up to voters like Waters to change problems that young people can not solve in their non-voting years.

Even with the voice of a young person seemingly unheard, Thunberg uses her voice to protest outside the Swedish Parliament every Friday to this day, making her voice heard. On her own, Thunberg has taken her passion to multiple places, even to the eyes of the United States.

Concluding the year, Greta has met with the U.S. Secretary General and has received audiences with the Pope and Presidents from around the world. She has inspired around seven million climate strikers across the world in September and thousands more continuing. Greta’s actions have inspired millions of people and was awarded TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year.

“And if you choose to fail us,” Greta Thunberg says, her eyes speaking with terror on behalf of the young, “I say we will never forgive you.”