Activism, Protest, and Fridays for Future

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Protest To Stay Active 

The main concepts of this article are demonstrations and activism. What do we know about them? 

By Camilla Giordani, Michelle Teano, Sophia Gasparoli, Virginia Sforza / FOCUS GROUP 2


First of all, we know that demonstrations as a form of activism are a protest or expression of feelings of a group of people carried out by walking together through the streets or gathering in public places. The aim is to make the participants’ beliefs known with regards to political, trade union, social and other facts through speeches or slogans written on signs and banners. 

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society toward a perceived greater good. 

Greta Thunberg 

One of the most important current figures in the field of environmental activism is Greta Thunberg. Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg, born Jan. 3, 2003 is an internationally known Swedish environmental activist who began her activism by missing school. 

Thunberg is known for her youth and her simple way of speaking, both in public and to political leaders, in which she criticizes world leaders for their failure to take sufficient action to address the climate crisis. 

Thunberg’s activism started after convincing her parents to adopt several lifestyle choices to reduce their own carbon footprint. 

She has received numerous honours and awards, including an honorary Fellowship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, inclusion in Time’s 100 most influential people, being the youngest Time Person of the Year, inclusion in the Forbes list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women (2019), and two consecutive nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize (2019 and 2020). 

In August 2018, Thunberg began the school climate strikes and public speeches for which she has become an internationally recognized climate activist. In an interview with Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! she said she first got the idea of a climate strike after the school shootings in the United States in February 2018 led to several youths refusing to go back to school. 

These teen activists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, went on to organize the March for Our Lives in support of greater gun control. 

On August 20, 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, then unknown in Stockholm, decided to not go to school until Sept. 9, the date of the Swedish elections. The aim was to protest and call on the government to respect the Paris agreements on CO2 reductions. 

Greta returned to school, but the protest did not stop: every Friday strikes for the climate. It was the beginning of the Fridays for Future. 

From that isolated demonstration a spontaneous and peaceful international movement was born, which recognizes Greta Thunberg’s own leading figure but is formally devoid of leaders. 

The Fridays for future aims, first of all, to keep the focus high on climate change. Specifically, it asks governments to eliminate fossil fuels, zeroing emissions globally by 2050 (in Italy by 2030). Objective: to contain the increase of the total temperature under 1.5 degrees centigrade regarding the pre-industrial epoch. 

In 2019, there were multiple coordinated multi-city protests involving over a million students each. To avoid flying, Thunberg sailed to North America where she attended the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. 

Leonardo DiCaprio 

One of the most active celebrities in the climate change movement is Leonardo DiCaprio. In 1998, he established his foundation, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation

It focuses on global warming, preserving Earth’s biodiversity and supporting renewable energy. Social media plays a big part in Leonardo DiCaprio’s activism. The actor does not only inform people through his social media accounts, but he often encourages his followers to sign petitions and take action by retweeting. He’s focused on changing the behavior of others, and inspiring them to take action against climate change. 


Activism: Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future

By Marco Rabbeni, Martin Scocchera, Niccolò Torlai, Valerio Percoco, Jacopo Rosini / FOCUS GROUP 8

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Greta Thunberg said in a TED she had in Stockholm, “Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can ‘solve the climate crisis.’ But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.”

We can all do something to help our planet. We just need to start to make a difference and change the world. We should be glad to do this for ourselves but especially for our children and grandchildren.

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Greta Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist who is internationally known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action against climate change. Together, they organized a school climate strike movement under the name Fridays For Future.

Fridays For Future, also known as the school strike for the climate, is an international protest movement, made up of pupils and students who decide not to attend school classes to participate in demonstrations in which they demand actions to prevent global warming and climate change. This began when the Swedish young girl organized a protest action every day of August 2018 by sitting outside the Riksdag, with a sign that read: “School strike for the climate.” Her decision stemmed from anomalous heatwaves and fires in Sweden and centered on asking the Swedish government to reduce carbon dioxide emissions under the Paris Agreement. On 7 September, just before the election, she announced that she would continue demonstrating every Friday until Sweden aligned with the Paris Agreement.

The Value of Individual Action 

Our simple actions will not make change immediately, and this can be frustrating, due to the inflexibility of the structures and institutions, but non-action is generally worse than any simple action, because there otherwise, there would be no space to change. If individual actions become that of many people – it becomes a collective action or movement as we may call it. This is what encourages activists to do something (activism in general) and Thunberg is an example: she started protesting alone – then came the followers.

Our simple actions will not make change immediately, and this can be frustrating, due to the inflexibility of the structures and institutions, but non-action is generally worse than any simple action, because there otherwise, there would be no space to change. If individual actions become that of many people – it becomes a collective action or movement as we may call it. This is what encourages activists to do something (activism in general) and Thunberg is an example: she started protesting alone – then came the followers. 

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Social Media Activism 

Engagements increase every year: from 56 million in 2016: to 32 million in 2020 

Greta is the key figure featured in nearly every article covering the strike for climate change. Engagements are lower than stories that cover climate change alone. The strike promoted by Greta divided the audience in social media’s comment section. A group shamed students for not being in school; another supported them for the resolve of today’s youth. Famous Brands showed out to support the strike as well.

Regularly we have to read posts on social media by reliable sources, otherwise, we can spread fake news that should never be read. All the things that we read are controlled by the socials’ algorithms. The revelation that the algorithms which deliver us endless streams of content are likely manipulating us to change the way we think and behave, however, was eye-opening for many. It is these same algorithms that are being exploited to help a relatively small group of people to have a massive influence. Recent research commissioned by a coalition of environmental organizations found that a definable group of people were responsible for spreading a majority of fake or partially true stories.

Let’s be honest for a moment: Times are changing. In fact, in the 21st century, a lot of catastrophic events are happening, such as the even faster melting of ice in the North Pole. Luckily, the new generations, as Professor Lopez said, are taking climate change more seriously than adults. And even more, we have the perfect instruments to spread the information with the rest of the world, such as YouTube or Instagram. But now some questions come spontaneously probably. 

Is This Good News? 

Yes, it is! For instance, it means that more and more people will be able to learn and know more about climate change and they will be stimulated to take action. 

Is there a risk of disinformation with the rise of fake news? 

Unfortunately, yes. This is the reason why we should create sites and accounts that can be recognized from fake ones through a system certification. Instagram, for example, has this function in the settings. This is how top activists like Greta Thunberg can share information safely. 

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In our little, we’ll try to give, and make others give, support for this global critical problem that includes everyone, and that everyone should be worrying about.