Relying on the next generation to fix our problems is not okay

Children should not have to lead us to change in the absence of adult action

More stories from Lauren Spierings

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April 1, 2021

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“We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now, is where we draw the line,” Greta Thunberg said at the United Nations Climate Action Summit.

Teens today are becoming more concerned and involved in controversial topics than they have been in a long time. Some teens, like Greta Thunberg, take this a step further and actively advocate for change on the world stage.

Thunberg has become something of a household name through the media recently. She rapidly rose to the forefront of international news as a voice for climate action with condemning words.

Most would agree that Thunberg truly rose to popularity due to her speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept. 23, as well as her other appearances before world leaders.

“You’re failing us, but the young people are starting to understand your betrayal,” Thunberg said at the Summit. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you and if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”

Thunberg speaks with the voices and concerns of the next generation, but she is being ridiculed by world leaders who don’t care for a kid telling them what to do.

President Donald Trump practically trivialized Thunberg’s speech, both with his impromptu 15-minute visit to the Summit, and his tweet that belittled her efforts.

Thunberg is absolutely right too; the science proves that climate change is a legitimate concern. This isn’t something that people can bury their heads in the sand over any longer, not if we want our kids to have a sustainable future.

There is visual evidence of climate change; there has been for a while. It’s not a hoax that the ice caps are receding and the Great Barrier Reef is almost dead from ocean acidification.

Contrary to the words of Vladimir Putin and Trump, Thunberg isn’t “alarmist” or “mentally unstable.” They can stop attacking a child for telling them things they don’t want to hear at any point, but they won’t.

Despite Putin’s belief that Thunberg is unknowledgeable of the economic inequality between her home country of Sweden and developing countries, Thunberg does show concern for those places.

Thunberg knows it’s not equal everywhere, but some of those places that Putin mentions are the ones that will be hit first and hardest by the effects of climate change because of their poor conditions.

“People are suffering, people are dying and our ecosystems are collapsing,” Thunberg said. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth — how dare you?”

The thing is, Thunberg isn’t saving the world. None of the young people who are rallying against world leaders are. Most of them aren’t even old enough to vote yet, they don’t have the ability to save the world.

The youth of the world are asking us to act; to create change now while we still can. They want to be able to die of old age instead of a dying planet taking them down with it.

It’s unforgivable that a child has to come forward to speak like this. As she said in her speech, she should be back in school in Sweden instead of needing to shout at adults to do their jobs.

Why are we putting her on a pedestal that she shouldn’t need to be on?

It’s our job as adults to better the future for the following generations and we’re failing. It should not be up to children to fix the world; this isn’t a dystopian novel like the Hunger Games or Divergent where the kids fix the problem.

Spierings can be reached at [email protected].