National Geographic: Young Leaders Making a Difference in the Battle Against Climate Change

One Friday in September, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg set herself up outside the Swedish Parliament with handmade signs and a message: Climate change is here, it’s threatening the future, and the grown-ups in charge aren’t taking it seriously—so now I, Greta, will go on strike for the climate. Someone had to do something about it, she told reporters later, so why not her?

Since then, her movement has swept around the world. From Poland to Colombia to Australia, thousands of young people have spent their Fridays striking in the name of climate change, signposting their activism with the hashtag #FridaysforFuture. Some step outside their school buildings for just a moment; others throng together, marching through the streets by the thousands. But they’re all pushing for the same thing: Meaningful action to stop the specter of climate change that looms over their young heads.

In the U.S., the climate strike movement has grown slowly and steadily over the past few months. Now, young activists are ready to make their big, national public debut: On Friday, March 15, young people across the country will gather at over 120 #climatestrikes, showing up to demonstrate their commitment to bringing attention to what they see as a global climate crisis.

The organizing effort in the U.S. rests on the shoulders of three young women: 13-year old Alexandria Villasenor of New York, 12-year old Haven Coleman of Denver, and 16-year old Isra Hirsi of Minneapolis. In just a few months, they’ve leapt headfirst into the world of climate activism—and have helped push climate change to the forefront of the national conversation.

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