This month of August, I thought to dedicate it to some young people around the world doing awesome things. There are many precocious young people (and some are as young as you are) out there who are being celebrated for some pretty laudable causes from literacy to global affairs.
Greta Thunberg, now 18
Take Greta Thunberg whom, I first heard about in 2018 when, at age 15, she basically pitched camp outside the Swedish parliament demanding for stronger action on climate change – instead of her staying in the classroom. I was taken in by her passion and conviction on such a global issue I begun to follow her (on social media) and read up more on her.
- Greta Thunberg is an environmental activist, born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2003. When she was eight, she started learning about climate change. The more she learned, the more baffled she became as to why so little was being done about it. At the age of 11, Greta became so upset about climate change that she temporarily stopped speaking!
- In August 2018, Greta decided to act; she started spending her school days outside her country’s parliament, holding a large sign that read ‘SCHOOL STRIKE FOR CLIMATE’. Her aim? To make politicians take notice and act to stop global warming. Soon, other students engaged in similar protests in their own communities. Together they organised a school climate strike movement under the name Fridays for Future.
- By March 2019, Greta was still staging her regular protests outside the Swedish parliament every Friday, where other students occasionally joined her. According to her father, her activism has not interfered with her schoolwork, but she has had less spare time. She finished lower secondary school with good grades. In July 2019, Time magazine reported Greta was taking a “sabbatical year” from school, intending to travel in the Americas while meeting people from the climate movement.
- Greta’s strike was picked up by the Swedish media, and the word started to spread. Soon enough, tens of thousands of students from around the world joined her #FridaysforFuture strikes – skipping school on Fridays to protest against climate change.
- Since her strike begun, Greta’s life became a whirlwind! She’s given rousing speeches to politicians, to the European Union (EU) parliament, the United Kingdom (UK) parliament, to protesters and more. She’s appeared in documentaries and has loads of books and articles written about her. She’s even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and was named as 100 Most Influential People in Time Magazine in 2019
- In March 2019, climate campaigners across the world, and inspired by Greta, came together to co-ordinate the first Global Strike for Climate. It was huge – over 1.6 million people from 125 countries took part!
- Her speech during the plenary session of the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference went viral. She commented that the world leaders present were “not mature enough to tell it like it is”. In the first half of 2019, she joined various student protests around Europe, and was invited to speak at various fora and parliaments. At the January 2019 World Economic Forum, Thunberg gave a speech in which she declared: “Our house is on fire.” In a short meeting with Thunberg, Pope Francis thanked her and encouraged her to continue with her good work
- Greta Thunberg’s activism took her all the way to 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in America. To avoid energy intensive flying, which further contributes to the worsening climate change, Thunberg sailed to America (from Europe) to this summit. In her address to world leaders, she exclaimed “How dare you“, a remark which was taken up by the media and even incorporated into music!
- Her sudden rise to world fame made her both a leader in the activist community and a target for critics, especially due to her age. Her influence on the world stage has been described by the media as the “Greta effect”.
- Greta has named Rosa Parks, the African American civil rights activist, as one of her greatest inspirations. In the 1950s, Rosa sparked a civil rights movement that improved the lives and treatment of millions of African Americans.