Antidotes to Climate Apathy: Greta & co.

Climate activism is an incredibly important part of addressing the climate emergency. If we don’t go out into the streets to make our voices heard, there’s nothing to push change forward. 

By now, you’ve probably heard of Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden who’s responsible for launching the Fridays for Future movement. Her steadfast activism led to global climate strikes in September, a beautiful scene of people coming together for the future of the planet. I shed many tears. 

Every time I hear Greta speak, I get chills. If you haven’t heard her speak, stop what you are doing and watch her speech at the United Nations

One reason why I find her to be so captivating is that she does not lie. She has a crystal-clear grasp on what we’re doing wrong and what needs to be done in order to avoid the worst-case scenario. She’s only 16, but she’s unafraid to tell a room of some of the most powerful people in the world that they are failing her, that their words are empty and that their attempts at acting on the climate emergency have been useless. 

What’s more is that she walks the walk: She refuses to fly because of the massive carbon emissions it causes, so she took a sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean. She lives the radical change all of us probably need to work toward for our planet. 

The best part of this is that Greta’s not the only badass young woman who’s taking action. There are other strong, powerful people all over the world who are not just speaking their minds but also are living out their words in real time. 

Artemisa Xakriabá is a 19-year-old indigenous activist from Brazil, who is currently fighting to defend the Amazon. Xakriabá’s protests show that indigenous rights and protecting the environment are inextricably connected: since far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s election in 2018, indigenous people have been targeted as the Amazon burns.

Bolsonaro’s election has made it incredibly dangerous for indigenous people in the Amazon, whose homes are being threatened, making Xakriabá’s actions incredibly brave but also incredibly necessary. As Bolsonaro is loosening protections for indigenous people and their lands, activists like Xakriabá are taking matters into their own hands.

Xakriabá helped spark the first ever indigenous women’s march in Brazil and was elected to serve as a coalition of indigenous peoples’ representative at the global climate strike protests in September. 

Autumn Peltier is another indigenous environmental activist who hasn’t let her age stop her from speaking her mind. When she was 13, she was selected to present Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a copper water bowl during the Assembly of First Nations’ annual winter meeting, representing his responsibility to protect water. Peltier took this opportunity to tell Trudeau that she was very disappointed with the choices he had made for Canadian water. Ever since, she’s become a leading water activist, attending the Children’s Climate Conference in Sweden and addressing the UN General Assembly in 2018. 

These people command me to listen to them, and you should listen too.