Before Greta, there was Severn.
Their photos often appear side by side, like bookends framing the long campaign by young people to persuade adults to take significant steps to fight climate change. Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen activist, is the latest child to sound the alarm. Severn Cullis-Suzuki, the daughter of an environmental scientist in Vancouver, Canada, came first.
In 1992, when Severn was 12, she traveled with three other young activists to the United Nations climate conference in Rio de Janeiro. The science of global warming had just begun to resonate. The UN had created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, now the leading authority on climate science, just four years earlier, and world leaders weren’t accustomed to listening to children lecture them.