Future days. Since early 2019, teenagers around the world have included a new fixture in their weekend agendas: the last day of the school week has been declared a day of international strike. Over months, from France to Australia, from Chile to India, students packed the signs and slogans they prepared and took to the streets to make a global statement for the Earth’s climate. It all started with the solitary action of Greta Thunberg, now 16 years old, who launched a lonely protest outside the walls of the Swedish parliamentary building, demanding more effective measures to counter climate change and to urge political leaders to take action to meet the climate targets to which they have committed. Thunberg warded off criticism and said about her choosing Fridays – regular school days – for her protests: “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future!” Soon she would announce regular protest meetings on social media, coining the hashtag #FridaysForFuture. One of the largest protest movements in history had its name.
Authentic protest. The Swedish teenager’s private protest became a worldwide phenomenon due to the sheer global scale and urgency of the issue. The coal, oil and gas industries’ excessive carbon dioxide emissions have been the focus of massive criticism by environmentalists for years, but little to no action was taken. Greta Thunberg was not the first to raise awareness about these issues, far from it, but she was able to project her authentic anger about the lack of political action onto the global consciousness in a way no scientist could have achieved. Thunberg sees herself as a voice of the segment of the global population which will be hit hardest by impending developments without corrective action: the youth.