When Swedish student Greta Thunberg organized the first School Strike 4 Climate in August of last year, the then 15-year-old could have hardly predicted the global impact of her activism.
A few months later, she spoke at TEDxStockholm. That was followed by a rousing speech at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Then she appeared at the World Economic Forum at Davos. Yesterday, she was nominated for a Nobel peace prize.
Today her movement – which encourages students to demonstrate against political inaction on climate change – is being carried out in hundreds of cities around the world. From Paris to Nepal, South Africa to Cyprus, hundreds of thousands of students are skipping school to urge politicians to give a shit about their future.
“I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act,” Thunberg told the billionaire class in Davos. Her speech at the UN was a revelation:
Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn’t matter what we do. But I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference. And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few. The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act. You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes. Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself. We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people. Thank you.”
Today’s event is the biggest of the movement to date, 1,659 climate strike events planned worldwide. More than 50 are taking place in Canada. Here’s a look at what’s been going on while Canadians were still asleep:
— Carl Nasman (@CarlNasman) March 15, 2019
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) March 15, 2019
— School Strike 4 Climate (@StrikeClimate) March 15, 2019
— b (@downtownlvin) March 15, 2019
Students are skipping classes and striking for the climate in Kuala Lumpur today. In the coming years and decades, climate change will affect every single youth in this photo, unless we act with urgency now. #ClimateStrike #FridaysForFuture #BangkitUntukIklim pic.twitter.com/uBmXYQOSNh
— Mike Campton (@mikecampton) March 15, 2019