by Kara Thompson ’20
Generation Z has been the generation of change. From the Parkland students who organized March for Our Lives to student protesters at the March for Science, young people around the globe have been actively involved in fighting for their rights. As of late, many have been fighting for their futures.
Greta Thunberg has become by far the most famous activist in the world regarding climate change. The 16-year-old from Sweden started protesting outside Swedish Parliament for stronger laws targeting global warming in August of 2018, and inspired many other students to do the same within their own communities. Thunberg quickly rose to fame, and was asked to address the UN Climate Change Counsel in 2018, in addition to starting the movement that led to climate strikes full of people from almost 150 countries on Friday, September 20.
Most recently, Thunberg’s passionate and emotional speech at the UN Climate Action Summit provided her with attention, and the platform she needs to make lasting change. She repeats the phrase “How dare you?!” constantly throughout here speech, ridiculing world leaders for having to be asked by children to save their future.
Thunberg also critiques how many leaders have said they understand the urgency of the climate crisis, but chooses to believe this isn’t the case. “Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil,” she said bluntly in her speech addressing the UN.
Social media allowed her speech to be shared worldwide. Responses to her speech include Russian President Vladimir Putin condemning her, President Trump mocking her, and conservative Canadian Parliament member Maxime Bernier questioning her mental stability and reliability. Thunberg is on the autism scale, but she says her Asperger’s is a superpower, not a disability, and does not let insensitive comments slow her down.
There are also criticisms that Thunberg is too young to have any real knowledge about the world. Several people claim that she doesn’t understand enough about how the world works to be making these types of claims. Some on the far right allege that she is being used as a propaganda tool.
Nevertheless, Thunberg took the negative backlash in stride and stuck by what she said. Many more people have shared their support for her via social media, such as Democratic candidate Kamala Harris, who tweeted part of Thunberg’s speech and acknowledged that world leaders are not doing enough to combat climate change.
Thunberg is just the most recent example of young people standing up for their rights and their futures. If this trend continues, Generation Z will be full of people unafraid to stand up for what they believe in.