Greta Thunberg Is An Inspiration To Young Climate Activists



Anders Hellberg

On Aug. 20, 2018, Greta Thunberg sat outside the Swedish Parliament building, holding a sign reading “Skolstrejk för klimatet,” or “school strike for climate.”

Keana Saberi, Editor in Chief

From leading the masses in striking against climate policy inaction to sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a yacht to minimize travel impacts on the warming globe, plucky and strong 16-year-old Greta Thunberg is an icon to the young generation of climate activists. 

The teen delivered an impassioned speech at the U.N. Climate Summit in New York on Sep. 23. Thunberg’s heartfelt speech evoked a sense of urgency even more fervent than her previous talks. Emotional and tear-stricken, Greta’s speech spoke of the cruel and stubborn politicians who refuse to respond to the change overtaking the planet and expressed anger towards government leaders and their lack of action.

Ever since she first stood in defiance at the steps of the Swedish Parliament during school hours to speak out against the lack of proper climate policies, Thunberg has exemplified how the younger generation of people are addressing the issue of climate change far more directly than previous generations. With her Fridays For Future movement, Thunberg began a massive wave of weekly strikes to raise awareness for climate change, including the recent protest on Sep. 20 which saw protesters from more than 150 countries worldwide participating.

This issue affects us, the younger generation, the most, for we will have to live with the worsening impacts of the climate crisis. In the future, the weight of the situation will fall solely on us. That is why Greta’s message is so important. Now more than ever, we must act decisively and valiantly to protect our planet and right our predecessors’ wrongs. If not, we will be the ones dealing with worsening and more frequent natural disasters, extinction of countless animal species, and even the threat of our own extinction.

Since 2018, Thunberg’s message of taking action against climate change has been valiant, and her persistence for the cause has made her the face of the youth climate movement. Her level-headed and evidence-supported claims against those who value economic prosperity over the livelihood of young generations speaks volumes to the quality of her character. And despite repeated verbal attacks on her personality by extreme conservative media, she remains vigorous and strong in her stance. Their harsh comments, ranging from dismissing her as “mentally ill” to calling her a negative figure who spews lies and is a bad influence on teens, are malicious and hostile. The ignorance of her detractors, who do not understand or even attempt to understand climate change, is the very reason they reject her and her words. On the other hand, her unique perspective and ability to “think differently” is critical to highlighting and strategically thinking about the climate crisis in a broad light. Thunberg was diagnosed with Asperger’s a few years ago, and rather than viewing the syndrome as a setback, she has been using it as her “superpower.” Her determination to address climate worries that those in power are supposed to be addressing is what emboldens her as a brave activist and voice to all who care about the altering crisis.

“You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that,” Thunberg said at the U.N. Climate Summit to world leaders. “Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.” Always eloquent and concise, Thunberg’s intellect and resilience attract many listeners who gravitate to her as a beacon of hope and inspiration. She’s motivated many, and her brave character even gained her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

Thunberg’s message is for fellow activists to focus on awareness by teaching others and to take action in their own communities. She is a figure that other climate activists look up to and a perfect emblem for the importance of the changing climate to the youth who value the well-being of our planet. Her influence and rise to fame have and are acting as catalysts for this crucial movement and have set a precedent for many generations of activists to follow. Thunberg’s determination and initiative to share her message and speak her mind highlight the intensity of this ongoing climate crisis, but are also sources of hope for the rest of the world.