The inspirational message of teen activist Greta Thunberg


Engaging with a fellow student participant, Greta Thunberg (right) protests climate change outside the Swedish parliament. Now, 149 countries and 3.6 million people are involved in her school strikes.

Stellana Erickson, Staff Reporter

On November 8, Swedish sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, who reached a global platform for climate change in a few short years, delivered a speech in North Carolina. At this event and before, she has proven that even as a teenager in a society that tends to ignore the voices of young people, one can find a way to be influential.  Fortunately, anyone can use her strategic and purposeful methods to become involved as well. 

  Although naturally introverted and adverse to attention, she sacrificed this to bring awareness to global warming, which she felt passionate about. It started in 2018 when she sat outside the Swedish parliament with a sign stating “school strike for climate.” After recording her efforts online, it went viral, and since then countries around the world have become a part of “Fridays for Future,” all run by students, where they too take the day to protest about climate change. This shows that despite being busy, we all have the opportunity to get involved in a cause we believe in. The internet is a great way to do this. With people going viral everyday, attention can be brought to nearly any topic. In our little bits of free time on weekends or after school we can participate in an organization. We can even simply donate money, a quick way to take action for those who might be too afraid to take a stand. You do not have to put yourself in the spotlight as she did and become a figurehead of the subject, but it is important to prioritize the issue over personal setbacks. 

 When Thunberg voyaged to the United States to participate in a U.N. climate summit, she was not smiley and motivational, but furious as she castigated the government for focusing on the growth of the economy over the dying ecosystems. Her fervor was what was notable. She showed that she was not a silly little girl but someone who was serious and devoted to her cause regardless of people that tried to tear her down. Greta was no longer the shy girl she used to be; she was stronger and more resilient. If we develop thick skin as she did, anything can be done. We cannot sit around and hope for others to bright light to an issue; the environment might be completely destroyed if we wait too long and there is no reversing it. It does not matter who we are, all we need is the determination to execute a plan. She was unapologetic about her criticisms, not delicately dancing around the topic in order not to offend someone, as we should strive to be. We need to address the problems in order to fix them, and this is how she successfully gained followers. Honesty and firmness will not only help people recognize the issue, but they will start to applaud you for being a young activist instead of dismissing your argument because of your age. Of course, there will always be those who disagree or try to make fun of you, but 100% support will never exist, and it is a waste of time to focus on it. 

  Junior Paula Elizondo marveled, “Greta Thunberg has captured everyone’s eyes, from the president to everyone at Millbrook sharing her speeches on their Instagram stories.” Less than two years ago, however, nobody knew the name of the girl sitting outside Swedish parliament. Even alone, you can be impactful, which is one of her many lessons.