Since her arrival in the U.S. in late August, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg has been touring the United States, meeting with fellow environmental activists and using her privilege to support indigenous activists trying to protect their sacred lands. She has marched in rallies with other youth activists, including the Youth Climate Strike in the city of Los Angeles on November 1.

Now, on the eve of her return to Europe, she says she has learned that the “basic problems are the same everywhere”—primarily in the form of a lack of awareness and action on climate change.

“My message to the Americans is the same as to everyone—that is to unite behind the science and act on the science,” Thunberg told the Guardian. “We must realize this is a crisis, and we must do what we can now to spread awareness about this and to put pressure on the people in power. And especially, the U.S. has an election coming up soon, and it’s very important that for everyone who can vote, vote.”

Thunberg is known for her stern warnings to international leaders about the climate crisis, but she’s also urging ordinary people to spread awareness and take action.

“Even if the politics needed doesn’t exist today, we still need to use our voices to make sure that the people in power are focused on the right things,” Thunberg said. “Because this is a democracy, and in a democracy, people are the ones who run the country. I know it doesn’t seem that way, but if enough people were to decide they have had enough, then that could change everything. So don’t underestimate that power.”

So, what are you going to do? Are you going to vote? Volunteer for an environmental cause? Raise your children to be global citizens? March in a protest? Everything Greta Thunberg says in her speaking engagements comes down to one point: There’s a climate crisis happening, it’s almost too late to change it, and if the political will doesn’t exist to make the changes that will lead to the human race’s survival, it’s up to us to take back our power and use it for the benefit of future generations and for everyone on the planet.

As indigenous climate activist Tokata Iron Eyes, who has been an environmental activist since the age of 9 when she spoke out against uranium mining, said during a panel on the climate crisis held on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, “We have to realize that we’re all on the same team, and we’re all fighting for the same thing, so no matter who is in the spotlight, no matter who is getting the most camera time, we have to be able to come together as one under the same set of values and speak to each other on this level of human being.”

Get out and vote. This election is not one you should sit out. I can’t state that strongly enough. The 2020 election is a referendum on the future you want: do you want a dystopian Mad Max hellscape where people fight over the most basic needs, or do you want a future where things can get better because people in power are taking their lead from people like you and me–and taking action to mitigate climate change?

Photo: Greta Thunberg speaks at a press conference in New York City. Credit: lev radin /