How can one person make a difference?

As part of a week’s work experience, I have been asked to come up with an article about something important to me and, as school is a big part of my life (for the moment), I thought I would look at an important issue affecting our planet.

In this article I will be writing about Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old Swedish schoolgirl who has now persuaded hundreds of thousands of people all around the world to care more about the environment.

I will be looking at why she was inspired to make a change and how she then went through with it.

I will also be writing from a personal point of view about the most recent school strike held on Friday March 15th 2019, how it affected my school and how some of the students were punished for going on strike.

Why she was inspired

Greta Thunberg is quickly becoming a global name and has even been nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for inspiring other schoolchildren to care about the planet they live on.

She first started to make a change when she was 15 by going on strike from school each Friday and protesting outside the Swedish Parliament.

Starting her solo school strike last August, Greta refused to go to school until after Sweden’s general election on September 9 to force attention on the climate crisis. This included handing out leaflets that read: “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future”.

The first time she did this no one was with her, but over a few more weeks more people joined her until she eventually began to become quite well known.

Nowadays Greta is known by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe and is a well-respected person.

She says that she was about 8 years old when she first heard about climate change and remembers being shocked by how society in general seemed oblivious to the threat it posed.

One interesting fact I discovered in researching this is that she is distantly related to Swedish Nobel-prize-winning scientist, Svante Arrhenius, who was the first to calculate the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide emissions back in 1896.

After finding out about the damaging impact humans are having on the planet, Greta insisted that her family stop travelling by plane and became vegan.

TED Talk

In November last year, Greta Thunberg spoke at TEDxStockholm about realising, when she was eight years old, that climate change existed and wondering why it was not headline news on every channel, as if there was a world war going on.

She also speculated that her children and grandchildren would ask her why she had not taken action in 2018 when there was still time and concluded her talk by saying: “We can’t change the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed."

The plucky and determined schoolgirl also spent 32 hours on a train to attend the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland, where she told the world’s ‘great and powerful: "Our house is on fire. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. We owe it to the young people, to give them hope".

Friday 15th March 2019; the school strikes.

On Friday the 15th of March this year, Greta held a school strike in order to tell people to stop ruining the younger generation’s future.

Children in at least 112 countries joined the school strike with hundreds of thousands joining the protest.

This growing trend of school strikes is clearly starting to make a difference as when I went into my school on the Friday, quite a few people were missing as they had joined the strike.

This shows us how only one person can make such a massive difference.

How schools reacted to the strike.

Schools reacted in mixed ways, some head teachers were understanding as this is the students’ future and they care about it.

Other heads punished the students for missing out on their education and politicians around the globe have also been quick to condemn the strikes saying that children should “be in school”.

However, the fact that some students got punished and criticised irritates me because they are trying to highlight the dangers to our planet and if it is ruined, then it can’t be saved, but the education that the children are missing for one day can be caught up on.

How can we solve climate change?

Researching this article has made me stop and think and I now realise that we all need to play a part in helping ensure that our planet – and our species, has a future. 

I think that we can solve climate change by doing things such as stopping pollution; we do this by stopping using fossil fuels, e.g. coal, oil and eventually natural gas.

Another way we can stop climate change is by using electric cars instead of petrol fuelled cars.

We can also stop cutting down trees, doing these few things and maybe more could lead to saving the younger generation’s future.

What I do know is that something has to change.

Leaving the final words to Greta Thunberg from December 2018: “You are stealing our future”.