Climate change: some are activists, and others believe it’s a complete hoax. Some people know about climate change, but not enough to let it impact their day to day routine. Putting aside what you know, don’t know or believe in, climate change is a hot topic with the presidential debates that have been taking place and, most importantly, because of The United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23, 2019, as reported by The New York Times

Before the Summit, climate strikes involving young people were happening all around the world. The strikes had children out of school and to the streets on Friday, Sept. 20 and The New York Times reported, “It was the first time that children and young people had demonstrated to demand climate action in so many places and in such numbers around the world.” The strikes presented were even deemed dramatic by some. Maybe those who believe these stands are said to be dramatic, don’t truly know the damage our earth is enduring. The magnitude of these protests are crucial because these kids are making headlines with a topic that should be one every single day.

One of those protesters, Greta Thunberg from Sweden, traveled across the Atlantic Ocean by a zero emission yacht. The vessel ran on solar panels and wind turbines and brought her to the Summit in New York, CBS News reported. She traveled by these means not only to reduce her carbon footprint, but to prove a point. She didn’t stop there as she delivered a speech at the summit that spoke to the world, criticizing world leaders for their inaction in protecting the environment. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you,” Thunberg said, her voice quavering with rage. “If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you,” The New York Times quotes her.

Frankly, I wouldn’t want to forgive them either. What else are the younger generations supposed to do when their power is obsolete compared to world leaders and industries who are destroying our home? In fact, isn’t this their job, to not just help protect the people but the very place we live in? The frustration lies with the feeling that this issue is being overlooked because those that are doing so simply won’t be around to deal with the consequences.

Thunberg is right; all eyes are on them. What Thunberg did was make those in power squirm as the 16 year old girl stood up for a cause she was passionate about fixing, while the people she looked up to didn’t. The irony of what follows is that the older citizens listening were the ones acting most immature. 

Since Thunberg’s speech there has been some retaliation against her. President Donald J. Trump posted on Twitter following the summit, “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” Before the Summit, CBS reports Thunberg proclaimed, “Everyone always asks about Donald Trump- ‘Listen to the science’ and he obviously does not do that. If no one has been able to convince him of the climate crisis, why would I be able to?”

It’s upsetting to see the lack of empathy for Thunberg from such high-profile people, as climate change today is vastly backed by scientific research. According to NASA, about 97 percent of scientists agree that humans are causing global warming and climate change. Thunberg poured her heart out at the Summit, and regardless of how you feel about climate change and Thunberg’s speech, it’s still imperative to encourage younger generations to stand up for what’s right, not push them back down.

The climate change strikes can be daunting at times for young people to see or hear about. The  Washington Post reports a 17-year-old from Texas says global warming scares him so much, he can’t even think about it. Another high-school junior worries about the floods that keep deluging his school. At that point it’s a great opportunity for parents to do research themselves and to educate their children so they won’t be scared, but inspired. It’s an opportunity to push families to create more sustainable households together and to hold each other accountable. This is where Thunberg’s blunt approach works; it creates conversation and action. 

I support Thunberg. I’ve always wanted to put our planet first, but have felt my resources to do so were limited. The spotlight on Thunberg is a reminder that you don’t need to hesitate to get involved and educate yourself on how to help the environment; even if it starts within your local community. It’s clear that all you need is a voice and drive to be heard. 

To those mocking the courageous girl nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, all I can say is this: if you had the opportunity to testify at a summit filled with world leaders, you best go out with a bang. I know Thunberg did.

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