With remarkable grace and startling speeches, 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has inspired millions of young people into action.Thunberg discovered climate change in grade school and did not understand why “everyone was not talking about it.” A few years later she became depressed and stopped eating and talking. Gradually, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, and select mutism. She calls the conditions a gift and stated recently, “I only speak when necessary. Now it is time to use my voice.” She has since chosen not to fly, taking trains instead, and has adopted a vegan lifestyle.
Last fall, thoroughly informed on climate change science and believing her government had not done enough to address it, Thunberg began a singular protest. She skipped school and instead sat in front of the Swedish Parliament with a sign reading ”School Strike for Climate.”
Through news reports and social media, Thunberg’s message resonated and soon a worldwide student movement was born. The activism grew into school strikes every Friday in major cities throughout the world. On Friday, March 15 the global Climate Strike For the Future drew 1.5 million students and supporters.
Closer to home, Denver middle-schooler Haven Coleman began her journey into activism protesting the Martin Drake Coal Plant with 350 Colorado Springs and had been active in Climate Change activism for several years when she got swept up in the school strike movement and began organizing strikes nationally and in the Denver area.
As support for school strikes strengthened, Thunberg’s star continued to rise. She gave fearless speeches at COP24 Climate Summit, DAVOS, the World Economic Forum and late last month at British Parliament during Extinction Rebellion protests.
In April she met Pope Francis who shook her hand and told her, “ continue to struggle. Continue.”
Thunberg was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize because “she launched a mass movement which is a major contribution to peace.”
Her speeches regularly admonish her powerful audiences for, “not doing anything.”
You have failed us. You say you love your children above all else and yet you are stealing their future right in front of their eyes.”
Speaking about hope for future generations, Thunberg believes, “Instead of looking for hope, look for action. Then, and only then, hope will come.”
Written by: Kim Osborn Mullen – 350 Metro Denver Volunteer