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What began as one teen’s mission about a year ago has become a global movement of massive proportions. Then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg cut class in August 2018 in her native Sweden, but instead of heading to the mall or movie theater as many girls her age would have done, she planted herself outside the Swedish Parliament with a hefty but simple demand: fix this planet, and do it now.

Since that day, the now 16-year-old has become an icon among youth and adults alike. She has testified to the U.S. Congress and to government leaders in numerous countries, been interviewed by countless news outlets, given speeches and through it all maintained a level of maturity, intellect and dedication lacking in many people twice her age. The grace this one child has shown and inspiration she has given the world is based on a simple dream, one where she can go home and not worry that the planet will die before she does.

But as the young activist said in a powerful speech to Congress:

“In fact I have many dreams. But this is the year 2019. This is not the time and place for dreams. This is the time to wake up. This is the moment in history when we need to be wide awake.”

Anders Hellberg/Wikimedia Commons Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist leading the charge for climate change action and the inspiration of the global Climate Strike of Friday, September 20, 2019.

Thunberg continued:

“And dreams can not stand in the way of telling it like it is.”

In her many speaking engagements, Thunberg consistently comes armed with receipts, ready to spit knowledge of thawing arctic permafrost, linear tipping points, global temperature data and the failures of slow-moving policies and creative accounting.

Over the course of the past year, Thunberg has led the charge to convince political leaders and the public of what’s at stake if the problem is punted much longer.

Thunberg said:

“But the problem we are facing is not that we lack the ability to dream, or to imagine a better world. The problem now is that we need to wake up. It’s time to face the reality, the facts, the science.”

“This is above all an emergency, and not just any emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.”

Thunberg was back at it a little more than a year after her solo sit-in, but she was far from alone this time around. People across the world came out Friday in numbers reminiscent of the first Women’s March in 2017. Students left classes, parents brought their children, grandparents carried crafty signs, activists handed out educational information and the press followed along to document the millions who united in the streets to demand bold and immediate action to combat climate change.

Jerold Chinn/SFBay

Several cities throughout the Bay Area joined in the cause with events in places like San Francisco, Oakland, Marin, Berkeley and San Jose — SFBay caught up with some locals who used their Friday to put Earth first, as people did en masse around the globe.

Friday’s historical Climate Strike is evidence that people are beginning to “wake up” and that one person, even one teenage girl, can in fact change the world.

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