In the wake of a 2018 report warning that the planet was headed toward a climate disaster, young people around the world went on strike in protest of widespread government inaction on the fast-growing threats posed by climate change.
That report declared that the global community had just 12 years to reverse course. Greta Thunberg plans to spend them fighting for a new future.
The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist launched the school strikes movement when she skipped school herself, heading instead to the Swedish Parliament for a solo protest outside.
Thunberg continued her campaign calling for action after returning home, too. Fridays are now #FridaysfortheFuture, and each week students all over the world take to the streets to demand change to the status quo of how climate change is addressed to mark them. The month of May saw a record number of students walking out of school, surpassing even the incredible count of 1.6 million kids who took part in the first strike in March.
“We young people have understood that the climate crisis is an emergency,” Luisa Neubauner of Fridays for Future Germany declared in a statement, “and we ask everyone to act like it, to stop business as usual with us.”
Until the status quo is changed, the strikes will not stop. “This September,” Neubauner announced in her statement, “millions of us across the globe will join us on the streets to demand the end of empty commitment but real change and real climate action.”
Strikes on September 20th and 27th are already scheduled in over 150 countries—and organizers are optimistic that these, too, will break records.
“We are the younger generation, we are the ones who are going to be affected and therefore we demand justice,” Thunberg said in a recent video promoting the strikes on 350.org, which featured short clips of people from around the world declaring their support of the strikes in their native tongues. “Everyone should mobilize for the 20th and 27th of September,” she explained, “because this is a global issue which actually affects everyone.”
Thunberg’s urgency is belied by the data. This past year alone has seen a rapid rise in extreme weather conditions: Europe has experienced some of its highest temperatures yet this summer, and in another report on climate change and the land released this year over 100 experts from 52 countries warned that land degradation is exacerbating climate change and further threatening food security.
“I am here to say: Our house is on fire,” Thunberg famously said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this past January, uttering a phrase that has since become an iconic slogan of the movement. “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”