‘Our house is on fire!’ – Gretha Thunberg

“We showed that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable.” – Gretha Thunberg at UN Youth Climate Summit.

Thunberg skips school to sit outside of the Swedish parliament to raise awareness of climate change.

Thunberg skips school to sit outside of the Swedish parliament to raise awareness of climate change.

Amulya Chirravuri, Writer

Greta Thunberg has recently become the key symbol of, the new generation of climate activists. As an effective communicator on climate change, the 16-year-old Swedish girl is currently in an inspirational role model.

Although more and more Americans are taking the threat of climate change seriously, less than 40 percent expect to make “major sacrifices” to tackle the problem.  According to Greta Thunberg, drastic action is exactly what needs to happen to address the problem. In an interview, Thunberg discusses the importance of galvanizing young people across the globe to the climate cause.

Thunberg’s success is due in part to the fact that she’s had a substantial impact over how people relate to climate issues. By her actions, as well as her simple and very direct speeches, she’s called out numerous politicians whose failure to act which endangers her future.

She neatly inverts the usual cultural assumption that adults should educate children. Her success is not just because she took what is usually understood to be a radical step by going on strike. She also uses a simple but important metaphor by referring to our house being on fire. And she focuses her attention on the key point that, if anyone is remotely interested in the long-term future for children, then politicians need to act on the urgent warnings being repeatedly issued by climate scientists.

The demonstrations, easily the largest to focus on climate, represent a movement driven largely by young people — many of whom left school to join the walkout. Several participants are focused on their mission to reduce fossil fuel emissions and how they plan to execute it, including meeting with elected representatives and supporting the Green New Deal, closing coal-fired power plants and converting as well as filing lawsuits alleging that the U.S. government has failed to adequately address climate change.

Thunberg spoke at the United Nations and testified in front of Congress. She spoke in Washington D.C. on Friday, Sept. 20th, as protestors in cities across the globe took to the streets to demand action on climate change.

Going on strike is usually understood to be a radical act, something is done when negotiation and persuasion fail. But for Thunberg, anxious to ensure a future for herself and her generation, it is really not a radical act at all, it is a way to ensure a better more alive future.