Greta Thunberg: How a 16-year-old Started a Global Climate Movement

Imagine striking from school every day, for three continuous weeks, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at age 15. At the age of being a freshman in high school, I am sure that even though the thought of missing school was amazing, we never did. However, that is exactly what Greta Thunberg did until the Swedish national elections on September 9, 2018, and continues to do every Friday alongside thousands of other students across the country and other nations.

I first heard of Greta in my environmental sustainability class where we watched her TED Talk. She spoke on the extreme urgency of the climate crisis and how we need to act now, in fact how we should have been acting for a long time. Greta began her climate activism journey in Sweden at age 12 and has only grown and developed from there. Furthermore, she has recently been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her climate activism. Greta is a 16-year-old who has been diagnosed with both Aspergers and selective mutism and happens to be one of the most influential youth activists.

Climate change is real and it is happening right now. This isn’t something that is far off or won’t have effects on you or me, it’s something that is having its effects as we speak. Weather patterns are worsening, the poles and ice shelves are melting, sea levels are rising, CO2 levels in the atmosphere are rising, oceans are acidifying, thousands of species are going extinct and it goes on from there. What Greta and other notable climate scientists and activists are trying to get across to the public is that this is a problem we already know how to solve. We aren’t still waiting for new technologies to be developed to fix the climate crisis. We need to cut down on the burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases and we need to do that now.

Greta Thunberg started this global climate movement about eight months ago on the steps of the Swedish Parliament. Now she is one of the youngest climate activists to organize an entire movement for youth to have a voice on their future. Every Friday for the past several months there have been climate strikes throughout Europe and in other countries and it just keeps growing from there. Friday, March 15 there will be about 2000 strikes held in over 100 countries around the world, one of which took place on our own UMKC campus. Greta, a 16-year-old climate activist, is the originator of this strike; however, the reason why it has been so successful is the inspiration she leaves behind her. She has started a chain reaction of inspiration in that she has motivated thousands of other individuals to start striking and then those individuals inspire others to start striking.