Bright Side

A Student Refused to Go to School and Got Nominated for the Nobel Prize. What’s Going On?


In August 2018, Swedish student Greta Thunberg started a strike near the parliament building in Stockholm. She claimed that she would stop visiting her school on Fridays until the government would start to follow the terms of the Paris Agreement on climate change — more specifically, global warming. The student became famous all around the world and her protest was supported by thousands of school students from 400 cities in the US, Europe, and Australia, and she was nominated for the Nobel Prize.

Bright Side was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a regular girl who is changing the world.

Until recently, the ecological crisis did not seem to be something serious or possible. But in 2019, IPPR published a study that says humanity is facing the age of an environmental catastrophe. “Human impacts on the environment have reached a critical stage, potentially eroding the conditions upon which socioeconomic stability is possible.” According to the US, in 20 years, the average global temperature will rise by 31.7°F (1.5°C) in comparison to the pre-industrial level. This means that droughts, hurricanes, and floods will become more powerful and more destructive. And if the temperature increase reaches 35.6°F (2°C), then flooding and lack of water and food will threaten the lives of millions of people in the entire world. Whatever happens, by the year 2030, it will be necessary to decrease the CO2 level in the atmosphere by at least 45%. But despite having signed the Paris Agreement, not all countries actually act accordingly.

“School strike for climate”

In her TED speech, Greta Thunberg explained that she first heard about global warming at the age of 8, and she spent several years studying it and was really surprised to learn that so few people had discussed such a serious issue. She said, “If burning oil is such a big threat to our existence, why do we keep doing it?”

When Greta was in her last year of school, she stopped eating meat, flying planes and only bought the most necessary clothing. When she was 15 years old, she went outside in front of the Swedish parliament and with a poster that read, “School strike for climate”. Her parents, an opera singer and an actor, did not support their daughter in the beginning. But it didn’t stop the teenager. The girl told journalists that this was the only way she could be heard because she was not old enough to vote.

Greta often takes part in conferences related to the climate. She writes the text for her speeches herself and she uses bold words. She says, “We are not here to ask the world leaders to think about our future. They have always ignored us and will continue to do so. Politicians act like children, this is why it is our turn to come and take this responsibility we should have taken a long time ago...Adults say that we have to give young people hope. But I don’t want you to hope. I want you to panic.

When critics say that her strikes are just a legitimate way to skip school, Greta responds with, “Why should I study for my future if I might have no future at all?”

After her shows, Greta became the star of the ecological protest. School students created a global movement called Fridays For Future aimed to save the climate. They require their government to acknowledge the ecological problems as a first priority, to decrease the levels of CO2, to stop using oil and coal, and to lower the voting age to 16 years.

Greta Thunberg asks everyone who studies every Friday to skip school and go to the closest city hall, take photos, and post them on social media with #FridaysForFuture and #ClimateStrike hashtags.

The school protests turned out to be way more effective than what ecological organizations have been doing for many years. Greta is supported not only by school students but also by adults, for example, Angela Merkel, Irish Prime Misinter Leo de Varad, the mayors of Paris, Milan, Sydney, Austin, Philadephia, Portland, Oslo, Barcelona, and Montreal. And even Leonardo DiCaprio who is famous for his speeches about climate protection supported the strike on March 15, 2019, when he wrote a Tweet about it. 1.5 million people in 2,083 towns and 125 countries on all continents went outside on that day.

Greta says, “So when I was 11, I became ill. I fell into a depression, I stopped talking, and I stopped eating. In 2 months, I lost about 22 lb of weight. Later on, I was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, OCD and selective mutism. That basically means I only speak when I think it’s necessary — now is one of those moments. I want you to act like your home is on fire. Because it is.”

Would you support your child if they decided to become a social activist? Tell us in the comments.

Preview photo credit Greta Thunberg / Facebook