In an emotional address to members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on April 16, 2019, sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a stark message. “I want you to panic,” she began. “I want you to act as if the house is on fire.”
Thunberg, the founder of a now-global movement of student climate activists called Fridays for Future, has become the inspiration for more than 2,000 student strikes in more than 100 countries around the world. Inspired by the walk-outs of traumatized students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where fourteen students were brutally gunned down, Thunberg saw in the students’ anti-gun tactics an opportunity to harness through similar actions the energy of young people to jolt politicians out of their complacency about the looming dangers of climate change.
See you for yourself in the video below why Thunberg’s eloquent and passionate plea for immediate climate action has both inspired legions of young people and also forced some climate-change denying politicians and fossil-fuel lobbyists to take seriously this determined young woman.
In fact, the climate deniers are taking the threat of Thunberg’s rhetoric so seriously that they’ve launched a campaign questioning her motives and casting doubt on the sincerity of her efforts. There’s a good chance those politicians and lobbyists are seeing exactly what I see: first, a young woman who poses a threat to the status quo and the fossil-fuel industry’s control of the narrative. And, second, the shocking realization that an unusually gifted sixteen-year-old might just be today’s most electrifying spokesperson for climate-change activism out there, and that there’s a fighting chance that Thunberg—and her young supporters—could succeed in convincing the global community to heed the emergency alarms, ignore the special interests, and unite to address the crisis that is climate change.