“Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire.” – Greta Thunberg (Davos, Sweden – World Economic Forum 2019).
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reported that we have less than 12 years before the damage we have inflicted on the planet becomes irreversible. In order to even stand a chance at reversing said damage, we would have to see drastic changes being made throughout all aspects of society. Solving the climate crisis will be by far the most complex challenge we will ever take on. However, the main solution is very simple. We need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Leading the fight against the climate crisis is 16-year old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg.
The story of this determined teen began just last year after a record heatwave in northern Europe and forest fires that ravaged large amounts of Swedish land. On August 20th, Greta started her school strike just outside of the Swedish parliament. Armed with just a hand painted sign reading, “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (school strike for climate) and flyers with important facts, Greta promised to strike every day until the Swedish national elections. Although she spearheaded the school strike for climate alone, Thunberg is anything but alone now as more and more people continue to join her in the fight against climate change.
“Adults keep saying: “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act,” said Thunberg in her speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Sweden earlier this year. Greta has used this as a way to push world leaders and billionaire entrepreneurs into action. While many people have joined her in reversing the damage that has been done to the planet, there are still many naysayers that continue to try to discredit her and the cause that she stands for. However, you can’t argue with cold, hard science. Many of these naysayers are political leaders and big corporations who are too concerned with making money and economic growth to acknowledge that climate change should be everyone’s top priority.
Ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and forests are being set ablaze. Evidence of climate change is all around us and the school strike for climate is a call to action. “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” Greta said in her speech at the U.N.’s Climate Action Summit in New York City.
Global leaders like to look at the youth as a beacon of hope for the future, but seem to be either unaware or indifferent to the fact that climate change is very much real, more serious than they can even begin to fathom. Climate change can rob us of the future that we envision for ourselves and society. If we continue to ignore the warnings that our planet is giving us, we will soon not have a planet to call home anymore.
Thunberg is absolutely right. We should be panicking and we should be afraid. The planet that we call home is dying by our own hands. If that fact alone doesn’t make you want to take action, then I don’t know what will. If the house you live in is on fire, would you just stand by and watch as it burns to the ground? Or would you do everything in your power to put out the fire? I’m asking because as Greta Thunberg said, our house (a.k.a. Earth) is on fire now, but it’s not too late to put out the flames. It’s not too late to reverse the damage that we have inflicted on the planet. There is still hope if we all act now. There is still hope for our planet.