…and they are pissed! Adults refuse to fix the world’s glaring problems, so the kids stand up for themselves
Common Dreams edited by O Society Mar 20, 2019
Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old whose protests outside the Swedish parliament spurred a massive global movement of young people striking from school to demand bold action on the climate crisis, is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“We have nominated Greta because the climate threat may be one of the most important causes of war and conflict,” Freddy Andre Oevstegaard, a parliamentary representative in Norway, told Norwegian newspaper VG.
Oevstegaard is one of the three Socialist Left Party members who nominated Thunberg. As he put it, “The massive movement Greta set in motion is a very important peace contribution.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee will announce its latest laureates in October, and those selected will receive their prizes in December. While nominations must be submitted before February 1, news Thunberg is being considered broke.
Thunberg responded she is “honored and very grateful for this nomination.”
Her nomination is welcome by peace and environmental advocates around the world:
“The idea is to sit outside the Swedish parliament for three weeks. I think the timing and the concept must have been right,” she told New Scientist Thursday. For her, the takeaway isn’t the fact that children are protesting, but why young people have taken to the streets:
“They talk about our age, our looks and so on. The emissions are still rising and that is all that matters. Nothing happened, that is crucial to remember.”
As the movement grows, so does Thunberg’s prominence as a powerful voice demanding more urgent climate action from world leaders. In less than a year, she addressed crowds of thousands at demonstrations across Europe, delivered a TEDx Talk that’s been viewed over a million times, rubbed elbows with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, and even called out the Davos elite to their faces.
News of Thunberg’s nomination comes as hundreds of thousands of students worldwide participate in the SchoolStrike4Climate. So far, students strike in over 100 countries around the world. Find out how you can get involved.
Thousands of young people across the world walked out of school on Friday, March 15th in massive, internationally coordinated “strikes” to bring attention to what they see as an existential threat: climate change. From Vanuatu to Brussels, throngs of students gathered, waving signs, singing and yelling chants, and clustering together in a coordinated attempt to express their concern to those who have the power to address the issue.
These young people have never experienced a world untouched by climate change—yet they are the ones who will bear the brunt of its impacts, says Nadia Nazar, one of the organizers of the strike in Washington, D.C.
“We’re the first generation that’s being significantly affected by climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it,” she said.
More than 1700 strikes were coordinated so they would run all day, starting with countries to the east like Australia and Vanuatu and sweeping across every continent besides Antarctica. Over 40 thousand students were expected to walk out across Australia, and the streets of major European cities were packed with young people.
A growing movement
The strikes are part of a larger movement that began in the fall of 2018 whenGreta Thunberg, a teenager from Sweden, set herself up outside a parliament building in Stockholm with signs and a purpose: Forcing her country’s leaders to acknowledge climate change (and hopefully, do something meaningful about it). She called her actions a “School Strike for Climate.”
But striking each week was a big hurdle for many young people, especially if their schools, friends, or families were unsupportive. As Isra Hirsi, 16, one of the co-leads of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike said on Friday, not everyone can take the time away from school or get themselves to places where they would get attention. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t care about climate change, or want to do something about it.
Hirsi and other young activists wanted to organize a day on which kids across the country could come together in a more cohesive, visible way.
“It’s great if you can go strike every week,” she said, “but it’s also a privilege to be able to do that. And there are so many people who care about this issue who can’t leave school every week or even for this one strike on Friday and we want everyone to have their voice heard.”
“We’re fighting for our lives”
Across the U.S. on Friday, kids gathered at over 100 strikes. Even the night before, the co-leaders’ phones were pinging with requests to add more locations or asking for help figuring out where to go, what to bring, and how to get involved in the grassroots movement.
In Washington, the organizers of the national strike huddled, texted, and planned until late into the evening. They finished a planning session by holding hands and breathing deeply, as Nazar spoke quietly about what they were fighting for.
“We’re fighting for our lives, for people all over the world who are being affected, for ecosystems and environments that have been here for millions and millions of years and are being devastated by our actions over only the past few decades,” she said.
“A crime against our future”
In October of 2018, the IPCC issued a report that warned that without serious, coordinated international action to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, it was nearly certain that the planet would warm by over 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit)—and that the impacts of that warming would potentially be much more disruptive and devastating than previously thought. The timeline? Get emissions in check by 2030.
Many young people around the world heard that number, counted up the years, and realized that they would be in what should be the prime of their lives.
“I have a lot of goals and dreams to achieve by the time I am 25,” says Karla Stephan, a 14-year old organizer of the D.C. strike from Bethesda, Maryland. “But in just 11 years, the damage of climate change cannot be undone. That is simply something I choose not to accept.”
And when they looked around, they saw little or no action being taken to deal with the problem. So, Stephens and many others realized, it was up to them to push the conversation forward.
“Ignorance isn’t bliss,” says Stephan. “It is death. It’s a crime against our future.”