Thousands of students in 105 countries are skipping class today. They’re concerned about something more pressing than good grades and perfect attendance – the future of our planet.
Scandinavian teenager, turned environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, decided to take a stand last year, noting that by the time she is an adult, the state of our planet may be irreparable. Staked out on the front steps of the Swedish Parliament with a handmade sign reading “School Strike for Climate,” her small act of defiance has triggered a global movement to discredit those with political agendas that are harmful to the environment and to shake off the procrastination we’ve seen for decades around global environmental policy. Thunberg wants to inspire politicians to take aggressive action.
She hasn’t gone unnoticed by the powers that be, either. Yesterday she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. If she wins, she’ll join another youth activist, Malala Yousafzai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 at age 17 for her struggle in recognizing the right of all children to be educated.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently published a report that suggested that no industrial nations will achieve goals of the Paris Accord agreement, that aims to limit the earth’s temperature by 2 degrees celsius. We’re currently on track to reach 3.2 degrees, which scientists say will be warm enough to melt the polar ice sheets, creating an unimaginable shift in our weather. It has the potential to displace over 400 million people by 2050. Acting to avert climate change and the looming threat of greenhouse emissions, thousands of young activists around the world, inspired by Thunberg, are determined to convince world leaders of the dire situation, especially those unwilling to take bold steps before it’s too late.
Her online campaign, #FridaysForFuture, has caused pupils to skip school each week across the world and has gained widespread attention. Her blunt approach to remedying the environmental damage she sees around her has started a movement that seems unstoppable.
Some politicians claim these youths are squandering their education and say they should instead be in school, pursuing future careers as scientists or engineers – that might one day solve the very problems they are striking against. But the real problem is that we’ve been handing the climate crisis to future generations since greenhouse emissions began. To people like Thunberg, the education we’ve been given thus far has only resulted in procrastination, and a delay in real action that we desperately need.
Inspired by Thunberg spirit, young climate activists across the world are taking a break from school to stand with their young leader. There’s a realization amongst them that there isn’t enough time to wait for graduation, and a qualification that allows them to save the world. Through their protest these young students are calling politicians out on their hypocrisy; if world leaders claim to be so worried about the future of youth, then why aren’t they prioritizing an environmental agenda that will guarantee their future?