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On August 28, 2019, 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg arrived in New York City, sailing thousands of miles away from her home (opens in new tab) across the Atlantic Ocean, in preparation for the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. Since then, the teen learned how to navigate the NYC subway system (a nearly impossible task), hung out in Central Park, and led a global climate strike (opens in new tab) that brought millions of people together across the world to fight for our planet. As many signs stated, "There is no planet B."
If all of that sounds pretty wild to you, it should. Thunberg has been holding school strikes, known as #FridaysForFuture (opens in new tab), since 2018, and today at the UN Climate Action Summit she made it clear that this absolutely should not be her job. "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean," she exclaimed in her speech to UN leaders. "Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!"
She continues, "You have stolen my dreams, my childhood with your empty words. And yet, I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you."
Greta Thunberg speaks at the UN climate summit: "You all come to us young people for hope? How dare you!"Read more: https://t.co/JDMyApr433 pic.twitter.com/3GwhwEuUWTSeptember 23, 2019
It's reported that President Trump only spent 15 minutes (opens in new tab) at the summit, and completely ignored Thunberg. (There's a GIF to prove it (opens in new tab).) Yet her speech immediately went viral, garnering support from people like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). And much like her plea to save our planet, the reactions are incredibly powerful...even if the president doesn't have one.
Watch every second of this speech. @GretaThunberg is the epitome of courage. Thank you for speaking truth to power. https://t.co/iR38ulK3AFSeptember 23, 2019
.@GretaThunberg is right: we are currently failing our nation's youth by not taking swift action to combat the climate crisis. We owe it to them to stand up to polluters and stop poisoning our planet.pic.twitter.com/coGN5JQOmASeptember 23, 2019
holy shit. https://t.co/phh3yJ2xtQSeptember 23, 2019
Greta Thunberg, at 16 years old, has more courage and moral clarity on climate change than an entire room full of world leaders. The science is clear. Her anger is justified. If we do not act now to protect our planet, the consequences will be dire. https://t.co/q8zk39seKASeptember 23, 2019
The world has found its shero, and her name is @GretaThunberg. #howdareyou pic.twitter.com/x1ivMd0oA9September 23, 2019
The image of Trump, a grown man, swaggering into UN climate summit, swinging his arms & throwing his weight around, in stark contrast to a dignified 16 yr old Greta Thunberg standing behind him, but with a strength that puts him to shame, is a reminder of how wrong this all is.September 23, 2019
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Yesterday at the UN Climate Action Summit, Greta Thunberg gave an impassioned speech challenging world leaders to stop failing future generations and act on climate change. pic.twitter.com/6apIHynEFWSeptember 24, 2019
Watch Thunberg's full speech, below, and find out how you can participate in your local climate strike here (opens in new tab).
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Rachel Epstein is an editor at Marie Claire, where she writes and edits culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also manages the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game, finding a new coffee shop, or analyzing your cousin's birth chart—in no particular order.
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