Younger generations take over climate activism


Kit Iyer

Students take a stand for environmental action at the climate strike in Iowa City.

Cienna Pangan, Photo Manager

The movement for climate action has received increasing support from young people around the world. At just sixteen years old, Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, has drawn international attention for her efforts.

Thunberg influenced millions with her speech at the United Nations General Assembly and has quickly become a symbol for younger generations’ fiery passion for environmental policy change. She powerfully criticized world leaders and politicians, saying, “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?” 

More and more young people have been inspired by Thunberg’s efforts. Quique Riojas Berazaluce, a member of the environmental club, said, “I admire Greta Thunberg. What she’s doing is prophetic. She’s calling people out in a way that’s not just provocative, but that’s productive. It’s not just getting mad at people, she actually lives out what she preaches. She’s a very, very powerful person.”

However, Thunberg is only one model of the massive movement for climate action led by young people around the world. Seven million people from more than 180 countries joined the recent climate strikes, and thousands gathered with Thunberg in Iowa City on Friday. 

Maya Johnson, feature editor of the Spartan Shield, wrote an article last week about the Pleasant Valley students who participated in the national climate change walkout on September 20th.

The reason that a large percentage of climate activists are younger is simple. Younger generations recognize that the increasing environmental distress is drastically changing the world they will soon live in. Co-president of the environmental club, Margaret Huang, said, “Younger generations will hold a stronger commitment to climate action. As generations come to pass, they grow more and more liberal and progressive, so climate action is definitely a really progressive idea.”

Young activists will continue to incite policy change with the power they hold within their progressive views and ongoing protests. Riojas said, “If there is one thing that I think the current protests are doing, it’s showing that we are going to change the world, with or without you. Young people are going to do this with or without the help of older generations.”