The world may be edging toward "environmental breakdown"—but 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg sees signs for hope.
Pointing to global walkouts planned for March 15, Thunberg—whose "school strikes for climate" helped galvanized similar actions worldwide—said, "I think what we are seeing is the beginning of great changes and that is very hopeful."
"I think enough people have realized just how absurd the situation is," she told the Guardian. "We are in the middle of the biggest crisis in human history and basically nothing is being done to prevent it."
In a sign of that realization, thousands of students from dozens of communities across the United Kingdom skipped class on Friday to join the ranks taking part in the weekly climate actions.
In fact, it's "incredible" that the movement "has spread so far, so fast," she told "Good Morning Britain."
Now this is special. Not every #ClimateStrike action in Belgium happened in Brussels today. In the city of Lier, over 3000 school children formed a human chain.
Lots and lots of love for this Climate Generation. pic.twitter.com/ofs232aNi1
— Jan Steurs (@JanSteurs) February 14, 2019
I am so inspired by all the young people organizing & going on #climatestrike. They are acting with the urgency that is needed in this time of planetary crisis. Our political leaders should follow their lead!#strike4climate #fridaysforfuture pic.twitter.com/xiouC3Owyu
— Lucky Tran (@luckytran) February 15, 2019
From Brighton, to Brussels, to Montreal, to Nigeria and beyond they rise in the thousands to demand we #ActOnClimate.
No more talking, deal with the crisis.#ActOnClimate #cdnpoli #qcpoli #climatestrike #youthstrike4climate #fridaysforfuture #greveclimat #polqc @justinTrudeau pic.twitter.com/YNqdkprDb9
— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) February 15, 2019
Explaining the start of her own interest in the issue, she told the hosts, "Once you fully understand the meaning of the climate crisis, you can't un-understand it; then you have to do something about it."
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She acknowledged that such actions mean kids missing school time, but, she countered, "Why should we be studying for a future that soon may not exist anymore and when no one is doing anything to save that future?"
Because "this is like slightly breaking the law... then it will have a huge impact [because] people will see it and think that this is important," she said.
On Twitter, Thunberg also refuted British Prime Minister Theresa May's assertion that the children on school strikes are "wasting lesson time."
"That may well be the case," she wrote Friday. "But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse."
Stateside, some observers see hope for addressing the climate crisis in the recently introduced Green New Deal, and the U.S. actions set for next month are aimed at buoying that and other legislative tactics to reign in global warming.
We are calling on the world to take a stand against climate change. On March 15th, youth from across the US will take a stand & strike for our futures. We will be on the streets demanding our lawmakers to do something! Link in bio to join us!#FridaysForFuture #YouthStrikesUSA pic.twitter.com/M89skysQTB
— Youth Climate Strike US (@climatestrikeUS) February 1, 2019
In a call-to-action, the teen organizers behind the U.S. youth climate strikes write, "We are at a turning point in history. Our futures are at stake. We call for radical legislative action to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We are striking for the Green New Deal, a fair and just transition to decarbonize the U.S. economy, and other legislative action that combats the effects of climate change."
"We stand in solidarity with Greta Thunberg and all youth strikers worldwide as we demand action on this issue," they wrote.
"We are running out of time, and we won't be silent any longer," they continue. "We, the youth of America, are striking because our present and future on this planet are at stake. And we are determined to do something about it."