16-year old climate activist, Greta Thunberg of Stockholm, Sweden has become the subject of political debate concerning climate change.
On September 23, 2019, she gave a speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City and called on the leaders of the world to address the growing danger of climate change.
“My message is that we’ll be watching you,” Thunberg said. “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you…You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Thunberg has been the topic of controversy on both sides of the political spectrum, with some right-wing pundits downplaying her talking points by pointing out that she is autistic and mentally ill.
Others have pointed out that her beliefs might be those of her parents and that she is being used as a figurehead by the left to spread lies about the state of the environment.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter and seemingly mocked her for her outrage stating that “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
On a more local level, opinions remain split.
“I don’t get what the big deal is, yeah she’s young but I feel like they’re kind of guilt-tripping people. I think the media is kind of forcing her onto us, like with those sad dog commercials, y’know? It suppose to make us feel bad about things,” said Scott Young, a plumber living in Highland.
In contrast, computer science student Stephen Anderson said, “I think that Greta is a really interesting example of how many children feel growing up in today’s society…For Greta and others her age and younger, they haven’t grown up in a world where the climate crisis wasn’t being talked about…Greta has grown up with the fear and danger associated with climate change her whole life. It’s much more serious for their generation and I think her anger and passion is refreshing a debate much older than herself.”
Regardless of people’s opinions of her, it is fair to say that Thunberg has become a prominent figure on the issue of climate change. As to what effect, if any, she will have on the issue remains to be seen.