Climate crisis

Climate crisis

Emma B., Staff reporter

In recent years, the push for action on the climate crisis is an ever-growing movement that has sparked strong activism all over the world. However, what is remarkable about this movement is that most of its active supporters and strongest leaders are teenagers.

Teens and young adults concerned about the well-being of the planet are spreading the message of the climate crisis and the need to take action in many different ways. One of the biggest demonstrations are student school strikes in order to participate in large-scale protests. 

Multiple organizations are formed around the idea of skipping school for a greater cause. Fridays for Future, Youth for Climate, Climate Strike, and Youth Strike 4 Climate are all youth-led organizations focused on raising awareness about the climate crisis through activism. The main goal of these organizations is to use powerful demonstrations to draw the attention of politicians and world leaders and encourage them to create more changes that will help the environment instead of continuing to destroy it.  

One of the most notable teen activist leaders of the climate crisis movement is Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden. Thunberg first began as an activist in 2018 when she skipped school on Fridays in order to protest outside of the Swedish Parliament. Thunberg is the face of the movement and gives many powerful speeches around the world, including at the UN Climate Action Summit in September and, more recently, the 2020 World Economic Forum in January. Her main message is to take action and show adults that teens have voices and important ideas that must be taken seriously.

One of the largest reasons so many teens and young adults decide to take action and support the fight for the environment and climate change is a concern for their futures. The climate crisis is one of the largest problems facing teens and young adults today because a polluted and damaged earth may eventually become uninhabitable if things continue without change, and will jeopardize the futures of today’s young adults.

Major natural disasters caused by an unnaturally warm climate have already occurred, and continue to occur. The warmer, drier, climate is a major contributor to severe weather and natural disasters. 

“I think [acting on the climate crisis] should be priority number one, because if we don’t even have an earth that is livable for most humans, then there is no purpose behind anything else,” said science teacher Adam Shulte. “I think anything that teenagers or young people can do that gets the people with the power to listen is a good thing.”

Polluted air, water, soil, deforestation and over-production of single-use items made of materials like plastic have already done an overwhelming amount of damage to the planet and multiple species of animals, drastically affecting the health of the environment. 

One of the main messages of the youth climate strikes is “planet over profit,” in hopes that leaders and large-scale corporations may cut down on the amount of damage they are inflicting on the environment. 

“I think the climate crisis should be a top priority. It is an urgent issue, so it needs to be treated like one. The only way anything will change is if politicians and business leaders start realizing that climate change is not a problem that can be ignored. It requires immediate action at a worldwide level and should absolutely be a main priority for everyone,” Faith G. (12) said.

Another main message of the youth-led movement is the disappointment in the failure of world leaders to take action on the crisis, and how they need to be held accountable for their actions, or lack thereof. 

“For way too long, the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything to fight the climate crisis, but we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer. We are striking because we have done our homework and they have not,” Thunberg stated in a speech in March 2019. 

The  movement for the climate crisis has brought many positive changes, however. Many politicians try to prioritize action on climate change and recognize the concerns of young adults. Through this movement many young people have felt more empowered by using their voices to create conversation about important topics that will affect their futures, and hopefully change them for the better.