Greta Thunberg addresses the United Nations Climate Action Summit at U.N. headquarters on Sept. 23.(Associated Press)
Arnold O. Beckman High School

Opinion: It’s the youngsters fighting against climate change

Young climate activists have been springing to action ─ from speaking out against plastic straws on social media to speaking out at national events ─ since the adults refuse to.

“How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words!”

16-year-old Greta Thunberg stood in the spotlight at the 2019 Climate Action Summit, emotionally criticizing the older, political leaders of the world for not taking action in the worldwide struggle of climate change. 

And she is absolutely right. 

Look around you, look around this world. There has been a trend of bringing awareness to this topic. People have been trying to take action to prevent climate change and purify this world from all the damage humans have done to it. 

But don’t you notice a common trend? Who are the people bringing attention to this issue? 

Thunberg is absolutely right. 

It’s the young people.

It’s the young people who are protesting in the streets, speaking at events and bringing awareness to this global phenomenon. It’s the young people who are spreading this knowledge across social media and urging others to do whatever they can to stop pollution from further harming the Earth. 

Young people warned others around March 2019 that there are only 11 years left until climate change is officially irreversible, that it was time to take action. It was everywhere on social media. 

Young people took the protest to the streets. On Sep. 30 of this year, more than 120 high school and college students marched through the streets of Nashville, Tennessee and passionately refused to stop even after they were asked to stop. 

It doesn’t stop there. On Sep. 20 of this year, millions of young people marched through the streets worldwide in more than 100 countries such as Japan, South Africa, England, India, Ireland, Finland, Italy, Scotland, Germany and New Zealand, carrying signs and raising their voices against climate change, chanting phrases such as “We want change!” The 2,000 protests were organized on social media under the organization Fridays for Future and were inspired by Thunberg. They all united together in order to urge the governments and world leaders to take action against climate change. 

I find it incredibly touching and moving that so many young people are coming to realize the harm we are bringing to our planet and uniting across so many different countries, languages and races for one cause: to save our planet. 

Young people also began to protest against plastic straws after realizing that the plastic could harm turtles in the sea. The demand for plastic straws has decreased ever since then.

The youth passionately carried their voices out to the most efficient way to reach the world, social media. All of this was spread throughout various social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and more for everyone to see.

It’s crystal clear that young people are passionately taking action to save our planet. However, the older generations are doing nothing to help the future generations of this world. Instead, they laugh at us. They belittle us, believing that we are too young to understand the world. 

According to the news outlet Reuters, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke out against Thunberg’s beliefs, saying that “no one has explained to Greta that the modern world is complex and different and […] people in Africa or in many Asian countries want to live at the same wealth level as in Sweden.” 

What’s absolutely absurd is that Thunberg quite literally addressed this in her speech. She clearly declared that she was “one of the lucky ones” and that people were out there dying and suffering. Yet, Putin simply believed that Thunberg was too young to understand that other people in other countries like Africa are experiencing a lot worse than her. 

It doesn’t end there. According to Reuters, U.S. President Donald Trump “mocked Thunberg” and Canadian Member of Parliament Maxime Bernier called her “alarmist and mentally unstable.” 

First of all, insulting someone else and calling them “mentally unstable” is incredibly rude and displays immature and sickening behavior. It’s not a term that anyone should be throwing around lightly and insulting people with, especially if they’re simply trying to bring awareness to an important subject and speaking the clear truth.

It also shows how much they’re underestimating and undermining her just because she’s a child. Lastly, these world “leaders” are clearly retaliating defensively because what she said was true. They clearly aren’t doing anything to help this planet. 

It’s not just world leaders. Adults are also belittling young people advocating against climate change. I see on YouTube comments everywhere, insults such as “The only part I agree with Greta is that she shouldn’t be there, she should be in school” or “We’ll be gone anyways by then, who cares?” or “Wow, I can’t believe we’re letting a child who knows nothing speak about this.” More comments began to make fun of the young climate activist, teasing her appearance and also calling her “mentally ill.”

 It truly makes me angry how they treat someone who is willing to step out in front of the world and advocate for something they truly feel passionate about. Not only that, climate change is a serious topic and they simply make fun of it, claiming that they won’t be alive for much longer, so it doesn’t concern them.

It’s clear that all these adults are looking down on her just because she’s young. It truly saddens and angers me that the older generations do nothing but not care and look down on the passionate young generations. 

Something else that perplexes me is the congressional hearing, “Voices Leading the Next Generation on the Global Climate Crisis.” During the hearing, there were several young climate activists present (including Thunberg). But the adult leaders were simply so focused on how climate change impacts the economy. They weren’t even concerned about how climate change affects our planet and our lives as human beings, but they were focused on the money.

Like how Thunberg said at the UN Climate Action Summit, “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth.”

All that ever comes out of their mouths is money, money and money. It’s simply so sad and angering. 

What’s my take on all of this? Like I said before, I am simply saddened and angered by how ignorant the older generations are about climate change. They feel as if it doesn’t concern them much because they “won’t be here long enough to see it happen.”

If they do feel concerned about it, it’s because of money. But most of all, I am furious about how much they look down on these young people. They treat us as if we don’t know anything about the world. While it is true that we are still growing up, how can you say such things to a passionate group of youngsters who care so much about the home that we live in? 

I feel another reason that adults insult young people so much is because they feel targeted and threatened. The young people are rising up, wishing to prevent climate change. But when they turn to the older generations and they don’t respond, the young people get confused. The world leaders passively claim that they’re doing everything they can to prevent climate change, merely waving the issue off as if it was an annoying fly. 

When the young people throw their hands up in confusion and protest, the older generations feel threatened and become defensive, resulting to insults of calling the young people “mentally unstable” and too young to understand anything. 

I applaud the young climate activists for caring so much about our home and being brave to take a stance. But I feel incredibly disappointed in the supposed world leaders and older generations who do nothing but look down on the young people, feed themselves with money and simply not care about the increasing temperatures and pollution of the globe. 

How dare you?