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  •  Greta ec822

    Last Friday, the marching sounds of young environmentalists could be heard throughout the world as hundreds of thousands of students walked out of class and took to the street to demand that politicians and world leaders take serious measures on the undeniable fact that our climate is in crisis. 

    The #FridaysForFuture movement began in August 2018 when Greta Thunberg, who, in her Twitter bio, describes herself as "a 16-year-old climate activist with Asperger," started skipping school every Friday to protest outside Sweden’s parliament.

    The Swedish teen garnered worldwide attention at a United Nation’s climate summit in Poland, in which she condemned climate change negotiators as “not mature enough to tell it like it is.” Additionally, at a World Economic Forum luncheon, she directly addressed the global elites in attendance saying, “Some people, some decision-makers in particular, have known what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people.” Thunberg later commented on the absurdity of people traveling via private jet to an event about climate change. She took a 32-hour train ride.

    According to CNN, Friday's strike could be one of the largest environmental protests in history. Kicking off in Australia and New Zealand, walkouts occurred in France, Japan, Germany Belgium, and the UK. A national strike was organized in Washington D.C. in company with strikes in almost all 50 states. The common demand among students is for the reduction of greenhouse gas emission. The Youth Climate Strike’s website includes a detailed agenda of demands regarding climate change, particularly that all government decisions be tied to scientific research. 

    Thunberg’s activism has inspired young people around the world to intensify the dialogue on climate change and provoke action from world leaders. She was recently nominated by 3 Norwegian members of parliament for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, reports. Winning would make her the youngest recipient since Malala Yousafzai. Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy Andre Ovstegard told AFP news agency, "we have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change, it will be the cause of war, conflict and refugees." Thunberg addressed her nomination on Twitter saying she was "honoured and very grateful." 



    Header photo courtesy of ulricaloeb via Flickr

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  • Farm in Kerala India 0629d

    On February 13, 2021, 22-year-old environmental activist Disha Ravi was arrested by Delhi police for her alleged involvement in the creation and circulation of a digital “toolkit” promoting support for Indian farmers.

    Farmers, who make up over half of the country’s workforce, have been protesting in Delhi for months in response to controversial agricultural laws that affect the sale of crops, as reported by The Guardian. In solidarity with Indian farmers, leading environmental activist Greta Thunberg shared her toolkit on Twitter that listed resources including suggested hashtags and petition information, which she later replaced with an updated version edited by Ravi. 

    “Historically marginalised farmers, who were first exploited by feudal landlords and colonisers pre-Independence, and by globalising and liberalizing policies since the 1990s, are the backbone of the Indian economy even today,” the updated document said (via CBS News). “An absence of solutions to deeply-rooted problems has further been exacerbated by the new farm laws that were passed without any consultation with these farmers who provide for a majority of the Indian population’s daily food consumption.”

    Just over a week after the toolkit was shared online, Delhi police raided Ravi’s home in Bengaluru, India, and arrested her, later charging her with sedition and claiming that she was a “key conspirator” who sought “to wage economic, social, cultural, and regional war against India.” In court, a tearful Ravi said she had only edited two lines of the original toolkit document. 

    “Supporting our farmers is not a crime,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in response to Ravi’s arrest. In her day-to-day life, Ravi works in a vegan restaurant and spends her free time “cleaning up lakes, planting trees, and campaigning against plastic in her local area, Bengaluru” (via CBS News). She also helped start the Bengaluru chapter of Thunberg’s Fridays for Future climate movement. 

    Thunberg has also been a target for backlash over her show of solidarity with Indian farmers. After she expressed support for the protesters on Twitter, crowds gathered in Delhi to wave banners that stated they would not tolerate “international interference,” while burning effigies of Thunberg and photos of both Thunberg and singer-actor-CEO Rihanna, who had shared a link on Twitter to a CNN article about the farming protests. Rihanna’s tweet sparked backlash from Indian news channels and members of the public; one Bollywood star branded the singer a “porn star,” while online trolls praised singer Chris Brown for assaulting her in 2009, per BBC.

    Ravi was not the first activist arrested for standing in solidarity with Indian farmers. BBC reported that 25-year-old Punjab labor rights activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested on January 12 and imprisoned for participating in a farmers’ protest outside of a factory on the outskirts of Delhi. Kaur’s imprisonment—and the sexual assault and torture she allegedly faced in police custody—sparked global outrage.

    “This isn’t just about agricultural policy,” Meena Harris—lawyer, author, and Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece—wrote on Twitter in response to Kaur’s imprisonment. “It’s also about the persecution of a vocal religious minority. It’s police violence, militant nationalism, and attacks on labor rights. It’s global authoritarianism. Don’t tell me to stay out of your affairs. These are all of our issues.”

    If spreading awareness of the Indian farming protests is a crime, then Indian police are also, by their own standards, guilty. Their arrests of young activists have only brought more global attention to the issues with the new farming laws, and to larger issues with the Indian government.


    Top Image by Photo by Sreehari Devadas on Unsplash.

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  • 14791625582 a49648758b c 442cc

    This past weekend, climate activist Greta Thunberg turned 17 years old and to honor her birthday, singer-songwriter, poet and novelist Patti Smith wrote a poem. And, obviously, it was brilliant.

    Thunberg spent the day protesting outside the Swedish government with her ‘Skolstrejk för klimatet’ (school strike for climate) sign, as she has done every Friday for over a year, which began with just her; eventually becoming a worldwide protest last year in several different countries. In fact, there were an estimated 1.4 million young people and students who took place in these school climate strikes across 128 countries.

    The poem, which was shared on Patti Smith’s Instagram page, is a short piece about the resilience of Thunberg and features a close-up photo of her in braids. Smith shares her admiration for the teenager’s efforts to raise awareness around climate change despite the backlash she has faced and how she expects nothing at all for herself. It’s clear it isn’t fame Thunberg is after, it’s policy and moral change, Smith expresses.

    Read the whole poem below:



    Header image courtesy of Blondinrikard Fröberg via flickrlondinrikard Fröberg via flickr


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