The right-wing British Conservative Party politician Michael Gove and the left-of-center Labour Party politician Ed Milliband don’t agree on much. But they are united in praise of the youthful Swedish climate change protester Greta Thunberg.
“When I listened to you,” said Gove, “I felt great admiration, but also responsibility and guilt. I am of your parents’ generation, and I recognize that we haven’t done nearly enough to address climate change and the broader environmental crisis that we helped to create.”
While Milliband thanked her for her activism, “You have woken us up. … All the young people who have gone on strike have held up a mirror to our society … [and] taught us all a really important lesson.”
Over the past year and a half, the now 16-year-old Thunberg has led a children’s crusade to draw attention to the growing crisis of global warming and to demand that adults years or generations older than she take action.
Another significant adult she has won over is United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres who offered this comment on Greta Thunberg, her movement and its effect: “My generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change. This is deeply felt by young people. No wonder they are angry.”
Thunberg says it was another group of angry, alarmed young people who first inspired her: the students from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who responded to the Valentine’s Day 2018 shooting that killed 17 people with a national campaign of pointed political effect.
The Parkland students’ campaign for more restrictive gun laws in America, she says, convinced her young people can organize to make a difference. But events closer to home brought her and her protest sign calling for a student strike against climate change to the steps of the Swedish parliament building. The summer of 2018 saw the highest temperatures and worst wildfires in 262 years of Swedish history.
Thus, it was hardly a metaphor when she admonished the world’s richest and most powerful people at Davos for sacrificing planetary values for personal profit: “I want you to act as if the house was on fire – because it is”.
Artemisio Romero y Carver is 16-years old, Chicano, a writer, and a visual artist. Born and raised in New Mexico, he is currently a student at the New Mexico School for the Arts. He has been published in Rigorous Literary Journal, Inlandia Literary Journal, Canvas Literary Journal, and was a finalist for the 2019 Santa Fe Youth Poet Laureate. He is a recipient of the National Scholastic Silver Key Award for Printmaking, is a Full Scholarship Recipient STAMPS Pre-College Program, and a New Mexico Speech and Debate 2019 Championship Finalist.