Greta wasn't the first to demand climate action. Meet more young activists.

In what they see as a battle for their future, youths are taking action and demanding their elders do more to protect the planet.

Delaney Reynolds

Reynolds, 20, is five foot two. When she is 60, she says in her speeches, sea-level rise in her home state of Florida will reach her waist. When she's 100, it will be far over her head. Point made. "Kids get it," she says.
Photograph by Victoria Will

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.

More from this issue

Many overlooked animals are languishing

Your actions alone can’t save the planet—but these habits can help

As climate change alters beloved landscapes, we feel the loss

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet