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16-Year-Old Activist Greta Thunberg On Climate Crisis: 'Please Listen To The Scientists'

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg gives a speech during the opening ceremony of the R20 Regions of Climate Action Austrian World Summit in Vienna, Austria, on May 28, 2019. (Georg Hochmuth/AFP/Getty Images)
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg gives a speech during the opening ceremony of the R20 Regions of Climate Action Austrian World Summit in Vienna, Austria, on May 28, 2019. (Georg Hochmuth/AFP/Getty Images)

Greta Thunbergof Sweden is only 16 and is already one of the most vocal climate change activists in the world. 

A year ago, Thunberg (@GretaThunberg)helped bring more attention to the “ school strikes for the climate” movement that has taken off in many other countries. Now, she’s been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. 

Thunberg tells Here & Now’sFemi Oke that this all started about a year ago when she started taking Fridays off from school and protested in front of the Swedish Parliament. 

“One year ago, I sat myself down on the ground outside parliament to make people more aware and to care more about this, so we together can put pressure on people with powers so that they will have to change something,” she says. 

Earlier this week, Thunberg spoke at the French National Assembly about the challenges she has faced in her activism. She says she receives daily threats on social media. 

“We are told that we are brainwashed,” Thunberg says. “We cannot think for ourselves. We are being used.” 

Most of the criticism Thunberg faces is aimed at her age, but the 16-year-old has read up on climate reports and encourages others to do the same. 

“In the latest IPCC reports, it says that clearly that if we are to have a 67 percent chance of staying below 1.5 degrees in global temperature rise, we had on Jan. 1, 2018, 420 gigatons of carbon dioxide left to emit, and now that number is already down to less than 360 gigatons,” she says. “And that is what people don’t get. They see me as an apocalyptic guru who just says, ‘We are all going to die.’ And what I say is just please listen to the scientists.” 

There are many practical things people can do as individuals to limit their carbon footprint, Thunberg says, but spreading information about climate change is key.   

“The most important thing you can do now as an individual is to try to read all these things that no one wants to read,” she says. “And I know that is very boring, and that is why this information needs to become more available and then put pressure on the people in power.”


Ashley Locke produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Tinku Ray. Samantha Raphelson wrote it for the web. 

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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