Greta Thunberg Takes The United Nations Stage

Jonah Hodo '20, Staff Writer

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This past Friday, September 20, was a monumental day for the climate change movement. Protests were held globally, from New York to Australia, with approximately 4 million people participating worldwide. Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old climate change activist from Sweden, is considered a figurehead in the climate change movement. She delivered an emotional speech that heavily criticized society to the United Nations on Monday, September 23, even going as far as to introduce her speech by saying, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”  

After her bold introduction, Thunberg spoke on the popular notion that we are currently in the beginning of the sixth mass extinction, yet all society is focused on is “money and the fairy tales of eternal economic growth.” She criticized society for placing all the burden of saving the planet onto younger generations, even though the “politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.” She then further explained how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, also known as the IPCC, stated that we had around 420 gigatons of carbon dioxide left to emit back on January 1, 2018, and that number is now below 350 gigatons. 

To put that number into perspective, 1 gigaton is equivalent to 1 trillion metric tons, and 1 ton is equal to 1 thousand kilograms or roughly 2200 pounds. This would mean that 1 gigaton is equivalent to 5 billion blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammal weighing in at roughly 200 tons or 440,000 pounds. All being said, emissions will be gone in “less than 8 and a half years,” if nothing changes.

Thunberg transitioned into the end of her speech by saying that the younger generation is starting to realize that society is failing them and they are understanding this betrayal.

Image courtesy of  Garry Knight.

Facts courtesy of bbc.com, nytimes.com, vox.com and YouTube.