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Students at the University of the Pacific marched out of classes Friday to protest climate change. 

A youth movement can be quite a powerful thing. 

The “hippies” in the ‘60s and ‘70s helped pressure the United States to leave the Vietnam War. High school students led the “March for Our Lives” and have been some of the most vocal activists for gun control.

And now, Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden, has been thrust into the national spotlight as perhaps the most vocal advocate for taking action on climate change.

Of course, if you’ve been paying attention, this isn’t the first time you’ve heard Thunberg’s name. She’s been vocal on the issue in the past, including at a climate conference in December, but her leadership among the youth of not just any particular country, but the planet as a whole, perhaps was at its peak Monday as she spoke to the United Nations once again. 

Thunberg echoed a general disgust at politicians for not taking appropriate action on the issue, simply asking “How dare you?”

It is vital that the youth take whatever action they can on any particular important issue. For the first time in 2018, the vote of younger Americans surpassed that of the older generations. But in this issue it is especially vital; the actions of those in office right now will more than likely not live to see the consequences. 

The facts are there; the world is changing, it is not good, it is being caused by humans, and the habitable status of this planet may cease to exist in a much nearer future than we are hoping, or perhaps prepared, to see.

Thunberg and a coalition of other young people have gone as far as to file a legal complaint against five nations who have ratified a U.N. proposal on climate change, but according to the complaint have violated it by not taking enough appropriate action: France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey. As for the United States, we are the only country in the U.N. who has not ratified said proposal. 

That, along with the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement and the lack of action from the United States government on the threat of climate change (regardless of who has been in the Oval Office) is unacceptable. The United States especially should lead by example and take action on climate change. 

Seeing a great deal of the Democratic candidates in the 2020 race releasing extensive plans on how to combat climate change is nice. But after all this time, will it just be anything more than empty promises and twiddling thumbs?

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