Greta Thunberg Wants Us to Panic, then Act

by Dara Klatt

The world is listening to the impassioned voice of a 16-year-old climate activist.

Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire,” Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old climate activist wrote in a column for The Guardian. “I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful.

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I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” Thunberg is one of the most prominent members in the youth-led climate crisis movement, and most recently spent six days in the District demanding action. She began her campaign by sailing across the Atlantic (she no longer flies because of the high carbon emission of aircrafts) from Plymouth, England for the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on the Malizia II, a state-of-the-art sailing boat with
solar panels, hydro generators and an online lab to measure CO2 and water temperature.

Activists held homemade signs to raise awareness for the climate strike.

Her 14-day voyage was emission free. During her time in Washington, Thunberg not only held multiple rallies for young activists, but also met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former President Barack Obama. She testified at the joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and implored lawmakers and activists to read the 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and urged for measures that are commensurate with the crisis. But what riveted the nation and the world was her speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, where she powerfully called out lawmakers who haven’t done enough. “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean.

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A group of young activists join together on the steps of the Supreme Court

Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!” Just over a year ago, Thunberg began her campaign for climate change, when she protested outside of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, holding a sign reading “Skolstrejk for Klimatet” (School Strike for Climate) while updating her followers on social media. From there, the young Swede’s desperate cry for climate control went viral. In just over a year, Thunberg has attracted 6.5 million followers on Instagram. Earlier this spring, she helped organize a strike joined by nearly 1.6 million people in 133 countries, and last month, she tripled those numbers, galvanizing more than 6 million people to strike. For her efforts, she was recently nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. As Thunberg is maintaining a front-and center position as the face of the youth climate movement, she has become the subject of a much scrutiny in the media—including mockery. To the mockery, Greta simply tweeted: ‘… They must simply feel so threatened by us … But don’t waste your time giving them any more attention.

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The world is waking up. Change is coming whether they like it or not.’

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