Opinion | Aimee Ortiz

The Green New Deal’s army

Swedish 16-years-old climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) takes part in a march for the environment and the climate organised by students, in Brussels, on Februaru 21, 2019. - Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who has inspired pupils worldwide to boycott classes, urged the European Union on February 21, 2019 to double its ambition for greenhouse gas cuts. (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images
Sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (center) takes part in a march for the environment and the climate, organized by students, in Brussels, on Feb. 21.

‘We have an army,” Senator Edward J. Markey declared during a meeting with the Globe’s editorial board last month as he professed his faith in the Green New Deal.

“There’s a green generation out there,” he stressed, touting the merits of the resolution he announced alongside rising congressional star Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

And, speaking as a millennial, I can say: He’s right.


In January, more than 30,000 students in Belgium skipped school and took to the streets to decry inaction against climate change. They vowed to skip school once a week to protest. Although the numbers have dropped, last week was their eighth week demanding change.

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Last month in Great Britain, thousands of schoolchildren called for a strike to bring attention to climate change. They walked out of schools, blocked the roads outside Parliament, had at least three arrests, and were chastised by Prime Minister Theresa May for “wasting time” battling the impending end of the planet and life as we know it.

Germany has seen its students walk out, as have Australia, France, and Sweden, where the recent global wave of demonstrations began, courtesy of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg .

Thunberg, who began protesting by skipping class when she was 15, has been leading the charge with her #Fridays4Future hashtag. Now there are plans for a student-led global day of action March 15 — one that would include the United States, where the GOP-led Senate just confirmed a former coal lobbyist as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

In an open letter published in The Guardian March 1, youth climate change activists had this to say: “We, the young, have started to move. We are going to change the fate of humanity, whether you like it or not. United we will rise until we see climate justice. We demand the world’s decision-makers take responsibility and solve this crisis.”


The world has only 12 years left to save the planet from catastrophe, according to a 2018 report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Yes, the whole world.

That’s just over a decade to solve the problems that will come as a result of the Trump administration’s reckless environment regulation cutting, just over a decade to literally save our lives.

And, by the way, climate change is only one issue for us.

My generation has seen stagnant wages, has lost upward social mobility, and we’re even said to be more anxious than those who came before us. None of this can be good for anyone’s mental health, let alone a whole generation’s worth of people.

Millennials and Generation Z have no choice but to take on the battle against climate change. We need to have a planet, a home, if we plan on fixing all of the baby boomers’ other mistakes. It’s why we’re starting here. The protesting kids have it right when they repeat the famous refrain: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

Aimee Ortiz can be reached at aimee.ortiz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @aimee_ortiz.