When the world isn’t listening, sometimes it pays to be a little rebellious. That’s exactly what led to one Swedish teen’s protest. Since the Swedish parliamentary election on September 9th, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg has spent her Friday’s sitting on the steps of the parliament building in Stockholm instead of going to school.
Thunberg feels that her government is not doing enough to address our changing climate. “I am doing this because nobody else is doing anything. It is my moral responsibility to do what I can,” she said. “I want the politicians to prioritize the climate question, focus on the climate, and treat it like a crisis.”
The protest has served as a growing experience for the young activist as well. People stop to speak with her about the issue and even bring her food.
Even politicians regularly visit with her to express support for her stance. However, this support is empty as no action is being taken. Instead, the politicians typically tell her she should be in school.
Her response? She points to the textbooks beside her and asks, “What am I missing? What am I going to learn in school? Facts don’t matter anymore, politicians aren’t listening to the scientists, so why should I learn?”
Thunberg has also taken to the internet to express her displeasure with current outlooks. The Swedish teen’s protest has garnered support on social media. Thunberg’s Twitter and Instagram accounts have exploded since her protest started. She regularly posts pictures of herself protesting before coal power plants throughout the European Union.
Others have even given up their day jobs to protest alongside her. Benjamin Wagner, a substitute teacher in the Nordic country, expects to lose several weeks of wages and, possibly, his job.
He fashioned his own sign reading ‘Teacher Strike for the Climate’ and told reporters, “If the adults are going to let the kids down regarding the climate crisis, then the kids are in their full right to let the adults down by skipping school.”
He went on to compare the current situation to the years leading up to the first World War: “We knew for years it was coming, they arranged all sorts of conferences, but still they didn’t prevent it.”
Greta feels that the impact of climate change will only be felt by future generations. Furthermore, the Swedish teen’s protest criticizes how the world falsely praises Sweden for being a conservationist’s paradise: “Sweden is not a green paradise, it has one of the biggest carbon footprints.”
But the work is never done. “I think the election didn’t matter,” she told the New Yorker. “The climate is not going to collapse because some party got the most votes.” The current politicians won’t see the results of climate change, so Thunberg wonders why we should bother letting them decide how to tackle the situation.
In Greta’s own words, “When you think about ‘the future’ today, you don’t think beyond the year 2050. By then I will, in the best case, not even have lived half my life. What happens next?”
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