The way I see it, we’re living in a time that will be remembered as history’s tipping point. We either do something or we don’t. The planet, and the human race, either survives or it doesn’t.
The simplicity of the reality we’re facing seems to be complicated for some people to understand when you bring in money, corporations, politics and Donald Trump sized egos, but it really is just life or death. Do something or don’t.
One of the loudest voices and biggest advocates we have for humankind, is a 16-year-old girl from Sweden named Greta Thunberg.
In 2018, Greta, who was 15 years old at the time, decided something had to be done about climate change. Although she was just one person, she couldn’t just sit around and wait for the planet to perish. She began her protest alone, skipping school to stand outside Swedish parliament with a sign that read “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (School strike for climate).
Through the use of social media and people power, Greta’s protest quickly went global. Not only is she now invited to speak at Davos and the UN, millions of others across the world have been inspired to go on strike and join protests and marches. It has been estimated that around 6 million people joined the marches around the world in September.
On Friday the 27th of September, Greta’s school strike for climate reached New Zealand. I went along in Auckland, with a cardboard sign that read “How dare you?” (a quote from Greta herself), and marched down Queen Street with a crowd that was approximately 80,000 strong.
Despite the impressive feat of creating an international movement at the tender age of 16, Greta hasn’t been universally popular. In New Zealand alone, we had Duncan Garner arguing that she was “fair game” for mocking and ridiculing. And, of course, good old Mike Hosking telling us that Greta “suffers, like so many of her climate change lot, from a fantastic sense of self-entitlement.” It’s hard to know what is is that these grown men really have a problem with - climate action, or teenage girls who speak up, rather than staying in their rooms listening to One Direction.
Young people are refusing to be silent on this, and it clearly scares the living daylights out of a lot of the older generation. It’s not just Greta either, there are hordes of teen climate activists doing amazing, inspiring things and giving people like me something to be hopeful about.
Like 14-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor, the climate activist who founded Earth Uprising. And 17-year-old Xiye Bastida, a strike organiser who was forced out of her hometown by floods, and is fighting specifically for the rights of indeginous and marginalised groups in the wake of climate change. And 16-year old Isra Hirsi, one of the founders of the U.S Climate Strike. And 19-year-old Katie Eder, who is taking a gap year before starting college to focus on climate activism. And 18-year-old Sophie Handford, the leader of School Strike 4 Climate in New Zealand.
Those who were leading the chants around me at the Auckland climate strike were young girls in school uniforms, armed with megaphones and hearts filled with rage.
I reiterate: 6 million people from every country on earth were so inspired by the tenacity and fearlessness of one teenage girl, that they left school and work and took to the streets. They painted signs and waved banners, screaming their demands for climate action.
Ignore Duncan and Mike. Never underestimate teenage girls. Listen to them. Because they’re smart and they’re right. And they’re the future.Support Villainesse