by Zofia Ciołek
It’s been just over nine world-changing months since Greta Thunberg, a high school activist for climate change, began her strike for a better future in front of Sweden’s main legislature building, the Riksdag. Almost immediately her bravery and perseverance became a worldwide sensation — and not only that, her protest for a better future inspired thousands of others to join the fight in order to stop the growing threat to our environment.
Climate change is an incredibly urgent problem. Temperatures are reaching new heights, with the world average moving up almost a full degree celsius since the late 1800s, leading to the melting of ice caps and constantly rising sea levels. According to NASA, carbon dioxide levels haven’t been higher for 650 000 years, and they are still on the rise. And although there has been talk for many years about fighting climate change, governments haven’t stepped forward and done much to change it. The European Union is a great example, as it has been failing for years to take any larger steps in fighting climate change. As stated by the International Business Times, even as recently as the climate change talks in Sibiu, Romania, the E.U. delegates wound up with no deal about how the organisation would tackle climate change as a united Europe.
Older generations tell the younger ones of the times they still had freezing, snowy winters or regular seasons, then proceeding to further go on about how different the world will look in fifty years once they’re dead and the younger generation will have to face those future problems which the previous generations created. They lay back, knowing that their time will once end and someone else will take care of the job. But Greta Thunberg is showing everyone that it doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, aware of the dangers of climate change or not; you can still contribute to the cause, and the earlier it’s done, the better the world will be for future generations.
One of Thunberg’s initiatives was creating something called “Fridays for the Future,” a movement which sparked interest all over the world when students stopped going to school on Fridays in order to protest for governments to begin implementing new environmentally – friendly laws. Popularity of this movement spread rapidly — so far school strikes have happened in 149 countries, in many more than once. And they have been bringing change — within the European Union hundreds of millions of Euros are already being spent on bettering the environment. However, these strikes have also sparked much controversy, and and many debate about whether they really are an ethical solution to the problem.
Personally, after giving it much thought, I believe that leaving a school day to strike really is the best way to solve this problem. For decades, scientists have been struggling to persuade governments and citizens of the reality of climate change, without much success. Not nearly enough people seem to understand the extent of the threat to human lives that harming the environment will bring. Young people, who want to thrive in a safe, healthy environment, have now begun to take the lead and show the older generations that there is still something that they can do during their lifetime.
Some might argue that missing school is unethical, since students uneducated in the ways of the world must stay in school to learn. However I believe that relatively radical methods such as this one are the only way to gain attention from publicity and people worldwide, since controversies fare much better in the media than any other types of events. At the moment, skipping school in order to get adults to finally open their eyes is the best way to make a change.
Climate change is a real threat and shouldn’t be neglected by anyone, student or adult. “Fridays for the Future” have been an incredibly important addition to the fight in bettering the condition of the environment, and I believe that at this point the only way to truly start seeing results is to turn to more radical ways such as this one. Who knows if these strikes will continue to be such a success? Maybe the adults who claim that the future generations will be stuck with climate change problems will be able to solve something in their own lifetime?