Can A Student’s Activism Hold a Candle to Real World Problems?


Trey Kuhn, Staff Writer

Many people have heard of the name Greta Thurnberg, but who is she and what has made her so popular?  Her identity and what she does may not have much of an impact on people right now, but in another decade or two her words could be all the difference in the world. Greta Thunberg is a climate change activist. Climate change has often been chalked up to myth and many people have said that it has no real effects on us, but now that is changing. 

The National Geographic and other climate experts say that soon climate change will show signs of long term, irreversible damage such as larger floods, more hurricanes, lowering our food production, and even decreasing our overall life spans.

 It is not too late; however, according to CNN and NASA, we still have a chance to stop this if we can keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C which we can do by lowering global carbon emissions by 50% before 2030. That is easier said than done though and for many countries, this is proving a very difficult task, whether from a lack of resources or lack of effort is hard to tell.

So what exactly is Thurnberg who is just a 16-year-old student going to do about this hugely important topic? Well for one she is not just a climate activist; as of now, she is one of the largest and most influential in the world. 

She is known for her very strong opinion, huge organization efforts and her blunt words to those in power who chose not to do anything in the face of climate change.  “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago,” she bluntly stated.

  More than anything else however she is determined to not let her age or position as a student take away from her arguments. Instead, she has used these as  tools that she can use to appeal to other people her age. “We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back.”

How much of an impact can teens and students really have? Some adults and parents may conclude that this is some kind of teen rebellion or the younger generation fighting against the older. Why should government officials listen to what these kids have to say? There is no evidence that students can really make an impact in important situations!… Or is there?

In the past, there have been several times when large numbers of students have taken part in world-changing events. Two examples of this in American history were the Civil Rights Movement as well as the Vietnam War Protests. 

While they both had many student supporters they also had a lot of adult supporters as well so were the students really as impactful as the adults? The 1960s protests against the war in Vietnam were largely student-led thanks to a new generation with new ideas. And during the Civil Rights Movement, the involvement of teens and kids is what brought many people to rethink their positions and see the sense in the movement. 

Thurnberg’s efforts have led to an alternative set of accomplishments. In her home country of Sweden, she started her first protest by encouraging students to join her in a school strike until the Swedish parliament takes climate change seriously. To many adults, this may come off as childish.But anyone who takes the time to seriously listen to her can tell that she is not simple-minded. Greta Thunberg’s efforts have not stopped at just one country. In September, she led an organized international protest in 150 countries where people of many different races, religions and cultures were able to come together and advocate for the single cause of climate activism.

 Teens possess an incredible power of their own: they have the conviction to act, often even before adults. Students seem to be the first to move in regards to the most important of problems and they can be the catalyst that causes the rest of the world to take notice and move towards a solution. So if the students keep it up you can be sure that it won’t be long now till the governments of the world start to pick up the slack and move towards a brighter future for the globe.