Driving to work on your normal route, a traffic officer stops you, you sit and wait patiently. You see one child pop onto the street, one turns into thousands. Thousands of children and teens marching the streets holding signs “We’re missing our lessons to teach you one.” Chanting “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Climate change has gotta go!” They hold their “No planet B” signs high and proud. You roll the window down and ask one of the teens what is this for, they simply reply “Fridays for Future.”
Fridays for Future is an international climate movement, started by a fifteen-year-old girl from Sweden named Greta Thunberg. After her protests gained traction in Sweden, Thunberg was invited to address the UN plenary session. “I have learned you are never too small to make a difference,” she said.
These climate strikes started in August of 2018 when Thunberg began to protest outside of the Swedish parliament holding a sign saying “SKOLSTREJK FOR KLIMATET” translating to “School Strike for Climate.” She would miss school every Friday to sit outside the parliament and hold the sign. Then one day a picture of her striking went viral. Soon other students began to strike with her. In March of 2019, an estimated 1.4 million students from one hundred and twelve countries worldwide joined her protest.
For these students, Fridays for Future is a way of pointing out how absurd it is to prepare for the future in school while that future is being actively sabotaged. “Today we use one hundred barrels of oil every day and there are no rules to keep that oil in the ground,” Greta says. “The rules have to be changed.” That’s thirty-six thousand five hundred barrels of oil a year. She said in a speech to the European Parliament. “I ask you to please wake up and make changes required possible.”
The young activist finally caught the eyes of the EU after weeks of the school striking for climate change. The EU has pledged one trillion dollars over the next seven years to address the rapid heating of the planet.
As hard as she tries to get the word out in a more positive approach, Thurnberg thinks the only way to really get through is tough loving. “Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope,” she said, “But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic.” Greta often speaks to the older generation this way because she views them as the cause of the damage, whose responsibility it is to do something before there’s nothing left. “You say you love your children,” she says. “But yet you’re stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”