Teen Climate Activist Sparks Worldwide Movement

If awarded with this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for climate change activism, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden will be the youngest recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.

She was nominated for sparking an international movement to fight and end climate change worldwide. As a self-proclaimed “climate activist,” Thunberg organized her first protest on climate change in August of 2018, protesting in front of the Swedish Parliament.

School strikes transpired from Thunberg’s “Friday for the Future” movement based partly on her Twitter hashtag, #FridaysforFuture. On March 15, students in 2,233 cities and towns from 128 countries walked out of school. Their books were put down while their signs were put up to highlight the negative impact of climate change. It is time to stop being reactive and start being proactive.

Thunberg said that although she understands that the debate on climate change is controversial, the time for controversy is over.

Scientists agree.

“The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia,” according to NASA.

Technological advancements like Earth-orbiting satellites have been used to collect information about Earth’s bigger picture, gathering global climate change information and insights that couldn’t be made before.

Data collected by NASA has found that the heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases has been around since the mid-19th century. These gases emit infrared energy into our atmosphere.

“Ice cores are drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming,” said NASA.

Evidence for rapid climate change can also be seen in warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets and glacial retreat, decreased snow cover and declining Arctic sea ice, and extreme weather events.

Thunberg not only wants to spread this information, she also says that she wants people to think about the ramifications of inaction. She hosted her own Ted Talk in Stockholm on February 13, 2019. She explained that the health of future generations and our very existence is in jeopardy if something is not done immediately.

“The time for waiting is over,” she said. “If the emissions have to stop then we must stop the emissions. To me, that is black and white, there are no gray areas when it comes to survival.”

NASA agrees. In their report, “Future Effects of Climate Change,” if improvements are not made temperatures will continue to rise, frost season with lengthen, there will be more droughts and heat waves, hurricanes will become stronger and more intense, and the Arctic will likely be ice-free.

“We are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction,” Thunberg said. “We have species going extinct every single day.” 

Thunberg said that she plans on furthering her movement and hopes to make climate change a more pressing issue in the eyes of others.