It’s been less than two years since Greta Thunberg started skipping school on Fridays to draw attention to climate change in her native Sweden, but already thousands of people around the world have started following her example. In Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, 14-year-old high school student Massimo Biggers was planning to protest last Friday as he has done every Friday since last spring, when he got a message from Greta Thunberg saying she would join him.
When word spread that Thunberg would be in attendance, more than 3,000 people decided to join in. The University of Iowa still gets its electricity from burning coal, a situation that many in the town find distressing.
“Wow” said Thunberg as the crowd began chanted her name. “It’s just so many people. I don’t think any of us expected this many people. This is real hope, so many people gathering on a weekday at such short notice. This is real hope to me,” she said according to a report by The Guardian.
Biggers has spent the last six months mobilizing fellow students to pressure the city council into adopting more stringent climate change policies. In an interview with The Guardian, he said, “At the time our specific goal was to get the school board to pass a climate resolution. But then it was pretty easy to get the school board to get a climate resolution, so we went to the city council and now we’re trying to get the coal fired plant shut down.”
“To be part of a global movement and especially at this stage, it’s just an amazing, amazing opportunity to see a global leader,” said Abbey Jordahl, a freshman at the University of Iowa. “Honestly I couldn’t believe it when I read that Greta was coming here, I was like … Iowa City?! What?! I’ve been following her for a while, honestly I can’t believe I’m here!”
Thunberg told the crowd, “Right now the world leaders keep acting like children and somebody needs to be the adult in the room.” The youngster from Sweden has recently gotten plenty of attention for world leaders like Vladimir Putin and his BFF Donald Trump. “They do it because they see something that is threatening and they want to silence that and if they don’t have anything else to say, if they can’t criticize the science, which is all we are saying, then they start attacking us personally and sending threats and hate and so on so maybe they can’t cope with it.”
“It could definitely be they feel threatened by a new generation,” she added “There is a lot of young people especially young girls in this movement who are leading and maybe they don’t like that, I don’t know!” But it is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that “Grab ’em by the pussy!” Trump is nothing less than a raging sexist pig.
Claire Carlson, a senior studying geoscience, environmental science, and business at UI from Ottumwa had joined friends from the Environmental Science Club at the rally. “Its nice to finally see a large group of people come together and address the problem,” she said. “I think Greta’s done a really good job of bringing a voice to that especially at a really young age. I think it means that more people are starting to understand the need for impactful legislation with regards to climate change.”
After staring down Despicable Donald at the UN last week, Thunberg changed her Twitter profile to mock the pseudo-president’s words. Asked if she enjoys using Twitter, she told The Guardian, “Yes and no. A lot of it is just meaningless and people wanting to brag about themselves or whatever. Lots of hate, trolls, anonymous people who have separate accounts.” Then she smiles about the updating her profile part. “You need to have fun as well,” she joked.
Thunberg is one of the most hated people on the planet right now, which illustrates rather nicely how far defenders of the status quo and fossil fuels will go to savage anyone who challenges them. Hopefully, CleanTechnica discomforts them a little bit as well.