I am surprised many people do not know her. Greta is a 16-year old teenager from Sweden that has become one of the leading environmental activists raising awareness of the risks posed by global warming and the climate crisis. I think she is one of the activists that could influence politicians, governments and other decision-makers around the world to move to action to reduce carbon emissions.
The world is warming quickly due to the accumulation of CO2 and other gases in the atmosphere. This “greenhouse effect” has been known since the late 1800s and validated without any scientific doubt for at least 40 years. The CO2 emissions are human-caused and come mostly from burning fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, and natural gas) and destruction of trees – deforestation – for farming, grazing of livestock, mining, drilling, and urbanization.
Today, the world has warmed around 0.95 °Celsius above the 20th century average. This is not normal! Nine of the 10 warmest Julys have occurred since 2005, with the last five years (since 2015) ranking among the five warmest Julys on record. Scientists expect serious consequences to the world climate above 1.5 °C. That is the level that was agreed as a goal for limiting global average temperature increase by the Paris Agreement signed in 2016 by 196 countries. This level would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change.
However, the world is not going to achieve that target. Greenhouse-gases emissions have continued growing, putting us in a trajectory to reach 3-6 °C above the pre-industrial level if we do not tackle the emissions problem. The CO2 and other greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere, so a reduction is needed today to avoid the catastrophic temperature increases in the next 30 years. We cannot do nothing now and wait to reduce emissions in the future. That would be too late.
Greta started demonstrating alone in front of the Swedish Parliament in 2018 requesting climate action from politicians and governments. Her idea was copied by other students, generating the Fridays for Future movement. Today thousands of students strike every Friday all over the world.
Greta is the vocal leader of this grass-roots movement. Her message is very clear: “This human-caused crisis is so serious that humanity is facing an existential crisis. We need to take actions, but adults – which are the ones that have caused this – are doing too little, so young people need to move to action”. She has said that “adults are stealing young people’s future”. She is amazingly clear in her messages. Hear her directly in this TED talk and this speech to the European Parliament.
Recently, she traveled to New York City to attend the UN Climate Action Summit. To make a point on the large carbon footprint of flying, she sailed for 15 days from the UK to the US in a zero-emissions sailboat.
I am convinced that drastic policy changes are needed to change the current global warming course taking the world to a catastrophe. We need Greta and thousands more like her to push for action from governments, corporations, and other key decision-makers. We need to step up ourselves. Each and every one of us needs to act now.
I am a big fan of Greta Thunberg! I hope you become one too and support her and other climate activists.
Fridays for Future is organizing a global Climate Strike on September 20th. Thousands of locations will participate including the city of Oxford in the UK and the New York City Public School System.
You can follow Greta on twitter.