Climate change, Greta Thunberg, and adult bullies

by Danielle Johnson | Opinions Editor

Greta Thunberg: a name that has been in headlines everywhere these past couple of weeks. By now, you should know that Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish campaigner for climate change, has yet to have an adult take a bolder stand on the topic than she has. 

At the UN climate summit on Sept. 23, Thunberg made headlines with her passionate speech pointed at world leaders, saying, “you have stolen my dreams and childhood with your empty words.” 

Her anger has attracted the attention and praise of many across the world, because of the fact that she, a 16-year-old girl who does not even have the power to vote yet, seems to be taking a stronger stance against climate change than the elected world leaders. 

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?”. This statement has made many people reconsider their opinion towards climate change.

I’ve always believed in climate change. I’ve never doubted the fact that it exists and is getting worse day by day. But ever since I read about Thunberg standing up for the environment and pointing a finger at our world’s most powerful leaders, I’ve shared in her anger more. 

I’ve shared in her anger at the fact that many young people seem to be doing more than the adults in positions of power across the world. I think it’s fantastic that young people have become more involved in big political issues, such as gun control because of school mass shootings throughout the United States. However, that does not mean I think young people are responsible for the way our world is being run. 

Young adults like me should be using their power to vote and should be using their voices to speak up, but, especially for children who cannot vote, it should never fall upon them to deal with some of the biggest issues this world faces, like climate change. As Thunberg said, young people like her should be focusing on school and learning as much as they can before they have to deal with bigger world issues like climate change. They should be learning about it and what they can be doing in their own lives to help with environmental issues, but they should not be the ones standing up in front of the UN, pointing a finger that has needed to be pointed for a long time. 

And it gets worse. Since Thunberg, an intelligent, brave girl who calls her mild autism her “superpower,” took her stance last week, many adults have done nothing but shame her and bully her. Rather than doing their research, ignorant adults who do not believe in climate change are choosing to mock her and what she believes in.

 For example, Fox News contributor Michael Knowles referred to Thunberg as a “mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.” Thunberg posted a photo on Instagram last week in response to all the bullying she had endured since her speech at the UN, captioning it “Being different is not an illness and the current, best available science is not opinions – it’s facts.”