“I want you to act as if the house is on fire. Because it is.”
After decades of debate, platitudes, misinformation about climate change, Greta Thunberg has found a way of talking about it that cuts through the noise. Her message is simple: we are in a crisis, and we need to behave as if we are.
Stockholm resident Thunberg was just 15 when she decided to take the matter into her own hands. During Sweden’s hottest summer on record in 2018, she began striking from school, skipping classes to sit outside Swedish parliament every day until the general election in September. Once the election passed, however, she kept striking every Friday – and this is when her movement really picked up steam. Fellow teenagers have joined the #FridaysForFuture and #YouthStrikeForClimate movements in the UK, US, throughout Europe and Africa.
Thunberg has travelled (only ever by train – she persuaded her entire family to give up flying) to a UN conference, the World Economic Forum, and an EU summit, to give talks to rooms full of adults who should know better. It’s from one of these powerful speeches that the above iconic quote is taken.
While the older generation dissemble and distract from climate change, Thunberg is leading a global youth movement that is speaking directly to the urgency of the issue. When you’re in the business of saving the world, there isn’t time to mince your words.