2019 was, quite notably, the year that the climate crisis leapt to the forefront of almost all conversations, both public and private. And it was young people who dragged it there. Fed up with the lack of action being taken by the adults who were meant to protect them, young people came out in droves, fighting to protect their own future.
Emblematic of this is the fact that Greta Thunberg was Time’s Person of the Year for 2019 - a 16-year-old girl who took a stand against that inaction, single handedly starting a movement that truly took the world by storm.
In 2018, Greta started taking Fridays off school to stand outside Swedish parliament with a sign that read Skolstrejk för klimatet (“School Strike for Climate”). By 2019, her face, her words and most importantly, her message were everywhere. Over the course of the year, she made a powerful speech to world leaders at the U.N, sailed across continents instead of flying to reduce her carbon footprint, met with the Pope, and inspired an estimated 6 million people to join her now global movement - the School Strike for Climate. No big deal.
With Greta as their inspiration, and the symbol of their rebellion, young people across the world left school and took to the streets. Their chants demanded climate action - now. Their signs were creative, eye catching and heartbreaking, from “Look what you’ve done, you monsters” to “The temperature is hotter than the boys in my year” to “You’ll die of old age, I’ll die of climate change” (which was painted on cardboard by my own 11-year-old sister). Their voices were loud and clear.
Clearly, we live in a scary time, and it’s easy to get bogged down in the sheer immensity of the climate crisis, but helplessness helps no one. These young people were what made 2019 an ultimately hopeful and inspiring year for me
In 2019, Greta Thunberg taught us that we are not all helpless to the whims and egos of men like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Jair Bolsonaro. One person can have the power to change the world and (hopefully) the course of history.
In 2019, children and teenagers across the globe told us all something loudly and clearly: they will not be going down without a fight.
In 2019, people who don’t even have the right to vote yet, were capable of influencing real, governmental change. This year, the EU declared a climate emergency, as did city councils up and down New Zealand.
In 2019, young people across the world showed all of us a thing or two about fearlessness.
And this is just the beginning.
My hope for 2020, and the next decade, is that young people continue to refuse to be silent.
My hope is that they continue to apply pressure to ignorant adults, to spark conversations and create change.
My hope is that we can all take inspiration from Greta Thunberg, and from the millions of people who supported her cause, by trading in that perpetual sense of helplessness about the state of the world for a sense of purpose, a drive to help save ourselves and each other.Support Villainesse