Greta Thunberg—Swedish Teen who Inspired School Climate Strikes—Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who jump started the climate strike movement, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The news comes as Thunberg is helping to organize a massive global school strike March 15 that is expected to involve at least 1,659 towns or cities in 105 countries, The Guardian reported.
"We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees," Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy André Øvstegård said, The Guardian reported. "Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace."
Øvstegård was one of three members of members of Norway's Socialist Left Party to nominate Thunberg, The Associated Press reported. Peace Prize nominations can come from anyone who meets the criteria, including national government officials, former winners and some academics. Nominations for the 2019 prize were due by February 1, and the winner will be announced in October and awarded in December. There are 301 nominations for the 2019 prize, including 223 individuals and 78 groups, according to the Nobel Prize website.
If Thunberg won, the 16-year-old would be the youngest winner ever and the second after 2007 co-winners former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to be honored for work on climate change, New Scientist reported. The current youngest winner is Malala Yousafzai, who was awarded the prize at age 17 in 2014.
"Honoured and very grateful for this nomination," Thunberg said in a tweet.
Honoured and very grateful for this nomination ❤️ https://t.co/axO4CAFXcz— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1552542801.0
Thunberg started a movement with a one-woman school strike in front of Swedish parliament last August. Thunberg had been part of a group inspired by the Parkland students' movement against gun violence who wanted to do something similar around climate change. When the group could not agree on a plan, Thunberg was motivated by wildfires in Sweden's Arctic region and a record northern European heat wave to go it alone, according to a recent profile in The Guardian.
"I painted the sign on a piece of wood and, for the flyers, wrote down some facts I thought everyone should know. And then I took my bike to the parliament and just sat there," she said. "The first day, I sat alone from about 8.30am to 3pm – the regular schoolday. And then on the second day, people started joining me. After that, there were people there all the time."
Her action inspired student strikes from Australia to Brussels, and earned her invitations to speak at the COP24 talks in Katowice, Poland in December 2018 and at Davos this year, where she excoriated world leaders for their lack of action.
"Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money," she said at the Poland conference, as USA Today reported.
Thunberg told The Guardian that she suffered from depression when she was younger, partly because of climate change and the lack of action it seemed to inspire. It was talking to her parents about the issue and having them listen to her concerns seriously that helped her realize she could persuade others, too.
"That's when I kind of realised I could make a difference. And how I got out of that depression was that I thought: it is just a waste of time feeling this way because I can do so much good with my life. I am trying to do that still now," she said.
Friday's upcoming strike is proof that Thunberg's activism has had an impact. The Guardian said it was likely to be one of the largest environmental protests in world history.
However, Thunberg is focused on her goal of actually seeing governments take adequate climate action, and will strike every Friday outside the Swedish parliament until her country's policies match up with the Paris agreement. She told New Scientist that she was frustrated with some of the responses the strikes had generated.
"They talk about our age, our looks and so on. The emissions are still rising and that is all that matters. Nothing has happened, that is crucial to remember," she said.
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It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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