It seems like there’s something wrong with the world every time we turn on the news. Natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires seem to be increasing in frequency and global warming is a factor in this.
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate change activist from Sweden, wants to educate people on the issue. She started the first climate change school strike in August 2018 to bring attention to the matter. She’s held a TED Talk, met with numerous politicians and spoke at rallies. In mid-August, she set out on a zero-emissions sailboat from England to New York to attend the UN Climate Summit on Sept. 23.
She sends a message to the world: this isn’t an issue we can put on the back burner anymore.
“The need for action on climate change is crucial,” Kimberly Coleman, an environmental science assistant professor, said. “It’s a critical issue that everyone should be worried about.”
Young people actively showing their concern about the environment is a step in the right direction but there’s definitely more that can be done.
But as Thunberg said in her TED Talk, “No one is acting as if we were in a crisis.”
The sad truth is our generation has known about the reality of global warming. It was a topic discussed in sixth grade science classes. We were told turning off the lights when you leave a room or recycling could make a difference. We were aware that global warming would only get worse as time goes on and we continue to ignore it.
“What makes these issues hard to solve is the people component,” Coleman said. “The ability to collaborate across sectors and organizations, to mobilize action, to accept and implement decisions and solutions, that’s the part that’s really hard.”
We are an intelligent generation that’s supported by many resources. Our world politicians can say that they care, but we won’t believe it until we see a decrease in the burning of fossil fuels. There has been a significant increase in natural disasters and temperatures across the globe have risen. According to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2018 was the fourth warmest year since the global records began in the mid-1800s.
As our generation spends a large amount of time on social media, the opportunities to reach people are endless. Coleman expressed using social media as, “a powerful tool for organizing and for change.”
It is possible to get the attention of politicians on these issues. With activists like Thunberg, we like to see influential people care about the same things that we do.
Thunberg has Asperger’s syndrome, a milder autism spectrum disorder and she sees it as her “superpower.” She says it allows her to think outside of the box and not approach things like everyone else. It’s fuel for her campaign.
According to Country Living magazine, protests over climate change have caused road closures in cities like New York City and London. Here on campus, students are actively working on organizing a climate strike on Sept. 20 and it is inspired by Thunberg’s efforts. Coleman plans to dismiss her class for that day so her students may attend.
We should be thinking of global warming as a timer and how eventually, time will run out. Many students have plans for after college and what the future may hold for them but worrying about whether our planet will be able to sustain the harsh conditions it’s currently facing or not isn’t usually on the agenda.
“What we do or don’t do right now, me and my generation can’t undo in the future,” Thunberg said in her TED Talk. That is the reality of how severe this situation is.
With increases in the rise of sea levels and health issues related to greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, it’s only a matter of time until our environment is permanently destroyed and there is no going back.