Climate activists impressed with Greta Thunberg’s energy

Environmental activists from Iowa City and beyond came to see climate activist Greta Thunberg on Friday, when she joined local high school students to call for action against climate change by university and city officials.

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Climate activists impressed with Greta Thunberg’s energy

By Brooklyn Draisey and Katie Ann McCarver

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After 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke at the Iowa City climate strike Oct. 4, some audience members were surprised to discover her powerful presence didn’t translate into height.

“Big energy, tiny lady,” said audience member Marie Kerbs and laughed.

Krebs moved her lunch hour to join a crowd of around 3,000 people, all gathered at the intersection of Dubuque Street and Iowa Avenue to rally for climate change and see Thunberg speak.

Many audience members said Thunberg’s decision to come to Iowa City impressed them, and so did her knowledge of climate change, the environment, and the lengths she goes to trying to protect the Earth.

RELATED: Climate activist Greta Thunberg draws crowd of 3,000 at Iowa City stop

Fairfield, Iowa, resident Jim Richmond said he had followed climate change for 30 years before the first U.N. Climate Change conference in 1995. He brought a sign to the rally — the Keeling Curve, a graph showing the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1960.

“In one year, Greta Thunberg has brought more recognition to the issue [of climate change] than anyone else,” he said. “It’s such an inspiration to see her inspire the young generations. That’s who it’s going to affect the most, obviously.”

Lynn Gallagher, who lives near Solon, said Thunberg’s stop in Iowa City created an opportunity to talk about the impact of Iowa’s livestock industry on the climate, because Thunberg is vegan who advocates for veganism. She said Thunberg is very knowledgeable, and it’s very impressive.

“If you care about climate change, a lot of people say the biggest thing you can do as an individual is stop eating animal products,” she said. “And I believe that’s probably true.”

Audience member Chloe Rholf said she greatly supports the climate-change cause. She began following Thunberg after the activist arrived in the U.S., Rholf said.

“I think it just goes to show how big of a problem this is,” Rholf said. “That a 16-year-old from Sweden has to leave her home to come here just because people in power who are supposed to be listening to scientists, aren’t.”

Krebs said she appreciated Thunberg’s acknowledgment of indigenous people and Iowa as indigenous land in her speech. All over the world, indigenous people are fighting climate change very publicly, she said, so she was glad for Thunberg’s shoutout.

“I think indigenous people are like the [original] activists, right?” Krebs said. “They’ve been fighting for sustainability for 500 years, even the sustainability of their own lives.”

While she didn’t want to discount Thunberg, Krebs said, it’s frustrating that indigenous people’s voices aren’t being heard and attracting the same crowd for their activism. She noted that she’s participated in numerous protests against pipelines.

The Iowa City climate strike and Thunberg were both phenomenal, Krebs said. Although she can understand that the University of Iowa’s transition from burning coal could be tricky, she said there just isn’t time to waste in addressing climate change.

“The animals are dying. We are literally losing animals so quickly,” Krebs said. “We’re right behind them. What happens to them happens to us — we’re next.”

Kayli Reese contributed reporting.

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