Since the late 19th century, Earth’s average surface temperature has risen approximately 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit. The bulk of the temperature increase has occurred in the past 35 years with 97 percent of scientists agreeing that global warming is caused by the increased release of carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions within the atmosphere. The effects of global warming are visible through observable changes in the natural world. For instance, data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, published and updated on NASA’s website in 2017, displays a loss of 286 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016 in Greenland. Comparatively, data from NASA’s GRACE satellite shows Antarctica lost approximately 127 billion tons of ice per year within the same time frame.
For 16 year old Swedish student Greta Thunberg, the effects of human activity on the climate are unacceptable. Thunberg was first recognized in 2018 when she spent her school days protesting outside the Swedish Parliament. Her one-person protest has escalated to a global movement of protestors in over 150 countries. On Sept. 20, 2019, in one of the largest youth-led demonstrations in history, millions took to the streets to urge world leaders to take action. In the United States, more than 1,100 protests took place across all 50 states to bring awareness and reforms to climate policies.
These global protests have cast a new light on the issue of climate change. Giving the science that proves the effects of climate change a platform has opened the eyes of many concerned citizens.Thunberg’s movement has prompted a surge of support from political figures and celebrities alike. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed support for climate control after meeting privately with Thunberg to discuss the issue. Public figures such as Chris Hemsworth, Kerry Washington, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello and other A-listers have also shown support for the movement on social media.
On Tuesday Sept. 23, 2019, the UN Climate Change Summit took place and featured an empowering speech from Greta Thunberg. After arriving in a solar powered boat to prevent the releasing of carbon on her journey, Thunberg left a lasting mark on attendees as well as on those who watched online. Through passionate words and worrisome facts, she scolded leaders for failing to take action. She closed by saying, “The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Greta and her supporters continue to campaign for the awareness of climate change. Through their Fridays for Future movement, they will strike every Friday. Following the immense success of the protest on Friday, Sept. 20 and the UN Climate Change Summit, climate change activists are finally gaining the grounds they need to create change. Their newly elevated platform will ideally push world leaders into creating effective reforms.