Recently, Swedish teen and climate activist Greta Thunberg crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a zero-emissions sailboat to attend the 2019 UN Climate Summit being held in New York City. According to the New York Associated Press, as the social-media-savvy teenager approached New York Harbor, she tweeted, "Land!" Greta refused to fly because of the carbon cost of plane travel. A 2018 study indicated that because of cloud and ozone formation, air travel may trap two to four times more heat than caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In contrast, the onboard electronics of the sailboat Greta traveled on were powered by solar panels and underwater turbines. Inscribed on the boat’s sail are the words: UNITE BEHIND THE SCIENCE.
Greta has become a symbol of a growing movement of young climate activists. She leads weekly protests in Sweden focusing on the crisis, and she has inspired similar strikes in about 100 cities worldwide. She is the daughter of an actor and an opera singer; she became a European celebrity herself last year when she refused to attend school in the weeks before Sweden’s general election in order to highlight the impact of climate change. She continued her school strike on Fridays after the elections, spurring thousands of young people to do the same. Since then she has met the Pope, spoken at the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland, and attended anti-coal protests in Germany. She is now taking a year off school to pursue her activism.
Sources of pollution take many forms: contaminated water, poor air quality, industrial waste, litter, noise, mercury in fish, excess nutrients in the sea, nuclear power stations, waste landfills, and countless others. We each must take responsibility for ways to lessen this problem—educating others, encouraging new legislation, properly disposing waste, and so forth. Where I live, the city collects and disposes of trash weekly in an environmentally safe way. I personally find sixteen-year-old Greta to be incredibly inspiring, and her efforts move me to want to do more.
Dear reader, to what degree are you aware of the climate crisis, and in what way are you or others you know helping to educate, promote, and practice saving the planet? All comments are welcome!