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Teen motivates Iowa City area climate activists

As the crowd listens, teen climate activist Greta Thurnberg of Sweden urges them to join young people in the world who are advocating for action to deal with climate change. (photos by Joe Wilkinson)

IOWA CITY– Swedish teen Greta Thunberg urged 3,000 climate advocates in downtown Iowa City to take on the worldwide crisis… before it is too late.
She shared a makeshift stage at Dubuque and Iowa Streets with local students who have been “climate striking” each Friday for months. The 16-year-old has made international headlines over the last couple months, including her solar-powered boat voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the United Nations climate summit a couple weeks ago.
On a North American tour now, Thunberg reaches out to young people– as well as their parents– to do something about climate change, before the effects cannot be turned back. “We will tell the adults if they don’t do it, we will,” emphasized Thunberg. “Change is coming, whether they like it or not… the world is waking up and we are the change.”
A couple hundred signs were visible through the crowd, which filled the intersection, and stretched a third of the way down the block in each direction. Speakers urged action or warned of what would happen if humans do not intervene to reduce carbon emissions and other pollution. Many ledgers show the Earth will reach a tipping point, where the harm cannot be fully scaled back, yet this century… perhaps in the next 10, 30 or 70 years.
The rally ended with an 11-minute silent sit in– or stand in, for many who had no room to sit. The 11 was symbolic for the number of years until 2030. That time frame is shared by many climate change advocates as the earliest global tipping point.
Students from Iowa City schools sharing the stage with Thunberg noted that the local movement has gotten Iowa City and the Iowa City Community School District to adopt climate action plans, such as committing to renewable energy. They also called on the University of Iowa to do likewise; specifically, to end coal combustion for energy.
Thunberg and others pointed to the next global climate strike, Nov. 29. “Right now, world leaders are acting like children and someone needs to be the adult in the room,” assessed the teen activist.

Joe Wilkinson of rural Solon is the president of the Iowa Wildlife Federation.