How Teen Greta Thunberg Shifted World’s Gaze to Climate Change
“Instead of worrying about how that future might turn out, I’m going to try to change that future while I still can,” the teen told NBC News.
Staring through a swarm of photographers and television crews, self-described introvert Greta Thunberg took the stage at a Swiss university last week to pointedly reiterate a message that has captured the attention of leaders and like-minded young women around the globe: The world must take drastic action now to avert ecological and civilizational collapse.
“We know that our future is at risk,” the small, soft-spoken 16-year-old Swede tells journalists at the start of a weeklong youth summit at the University of Lausanne. “We would love to go back to school and continue with our everyday lives, but as crucial as this situation is, as serious as this situation is, we feel like we must do something about this now.”
Thunberg — whose central point is that humanity must immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions that have unrelentingly increased since the start of the industrial revolution, resulting in global warming — is the driving force behind a movement that has seen more than 2 million teens around the world take part in Fridays for Future school strikes against climate change.
On Wednesday she set off from Britain’s shores on a months long journey — she is sailing to avoid flying — that will take her to a U.N. summit on climate change in New York in September, and the COP25 conference in Santiago, Chile, in December.
While she has accumulated opponents, she’s also earned a long list of supporters from Pope Francis, to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
“We are, in a way, changing the political debate,” Thunberg said, “and how people see the climate and ecological emergency.”
For Thunberg, however, the debate will not be over until global greenhouse gas emissions actually decline.
“I can’t be proud of something until that has been achieved,” she said.
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