The 16-Year-Old Changing the Face of Youth and Environmental Activism 

by Sophia Elfrink

In the wake of recent events surrounding the fires burning in the Amazon rainforest, national outcry has prompted a climate strike which will take place on Friday the 20th of September. Greta Thunberg, 16-year-old environmental activist, has been one of the leading organizers of the strike.

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Thunberg has already reached millions through her powerful message, “we are striking to disrupt the system, to create attention, and I just hope that it will turn out well.” She has appeared on news outlets such as CNN and PBS, as a speaker on TED talks, and even gave a pivotal speech during The United Nations Climate Summit.

Although Thunberg preaches for change, she recognizes that it will not happen immediately. Instead she hopes to instill a sense of fear in society and help adults understand the severity of climate change, which will have the greatest impact on the younger generations. As a young adult herself, Thunberg has helped to draw attention to her global peers. All around the world, students of all ages are demanding change. As a result, Thunberg and other young activists inspired a worldwide strike. Protesters will be pressuring legislators and other officials to address climate change and the negative impact that it is having on our planet.

Students are encouraged to participate in this strike, in fact, NY Times has said the New York City public school system has told its 1.1 million students that their absences will be excused. According to the Guardian, “millions are expected to take to the streets in more than 130 countries, with support on this occasion from unions, churches, and local community groups.”  This could very well be the biggest protest in the history of the climate crisis.

Portland, Oregon will host its own climate strike, which will begin at Portland City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Avenue, around 10:30 AM. Participants will later march to OMSI, where a climate justice festival will be held. All ages are encouraged to attend the strike. Portland public schools have also declared that students will be excused from school if they so choose to participate. It is estimated that 6000-8000 people will show up, the majority of which being high school students.

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