She’s the teenage girl with Aspergers and depression who sparks global protests and calls world leaders out on their bullshit. She’s the face of a global climate change movement. Greta Thunberg is now Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
Why we LOVE this person of the year
Greta has the world’s attention on climate change. Her speeches have affected environmental laws, shaken politicians and sparked global protests. Across ages, countries and positions of power, she has caused a shift.
‘It’s a simple truth, delivered by a teenage girl in a fateful moment,’ explains Time.
This fearless teenager shames world leaders who are not acting, and holds them accountable. This is something that activists and scientists have been trying to do for years. She is no doubt deserving of the Person of the Year title.
‘This moment does feel different,’ former Vice President, esteemed climate activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Al Gore told Time. ‘Throughout history, many great morally based movements have gained traction at the very moment when young people decided to make that movement their cause.’
She skipped school in a solo protest and the world joined her
Greta Thunberg started a global movement by skipping school in what started out as a solo protest. Greta sat alone outside the Swedish parliament to get politicians to act against greenhouse gas emissions.
On the second day, one person joined her. ‘That was a big step, from one to two,’ she remembers. It all started with this moment. With Greta by herself, holding up a sign that read Skolstrejk för klimatet: “School Strike for Climate.”
And then thousands more poured in. In the days and weeks that followed, kids from all over the world rose up in protest with her The momentum continued until an estimated 4 million people of all ages showed up in solidarity with this cause.
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This was the largest climate demonstration in human history, Time reports. And it was sparked by a 16-year-old girl. The climate strikes spread through Europe, the US, Africa, Asia and Australia, calling for politicians to stop ignoring this crisis.
It reached South Africa too. Here, an estimated 2000 students marched on parliament in Cape Town and Pretoria, as South African students made their voices heard.
She’s beeeeeen calling out politicians and CEOs. Here are some of her most powerful quotes:
From CEOs and world leaders to the whole United Nations, Thunberg has said some powerful things.
“I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.”
She is not a politician or a scientist or a billionaire, Time explains.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope.”
Greta Thunberg is a teenage girl.
“You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”
She’s been mocked by online trolls, including President Donald Trump on Twitter.
“We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.”
She sugar-coats nothing and is unshakeable in her resolve.
“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.”
Greta’s journey with Asperger’s and depression
Greta Thunberg has Asperger’s syndrome. She has also suffered from depression.
In primary school, Greta saw a video of the effects of climate change. You know the images by now: starving polar bears, melting ice caps, flooding. Her teacher explained that this was happening because of climate change. This affected her profoundly. Greta was 11 years old when she fell into a deep depression. Time reports that she stopped talking and eating almost completely.
“Learning about climate change triggered my depression in the first place,” Greta explains, “But it was also what got me out of my depression, because there were things I could do to improve the situation.”
Greta’s Asperger’s diagnosis means she doesn’t process info the way neurotypical people do. Time explains the she “could not compartmentalize the fact that her planet was in peril” the way many people can. And this sheds light on her iron resolve.
She is not easily distracted or impressed. She’s very direct. And she doesn’t care for crowds. If you’ve seen pics or videos of her, you’d know she also doesn’t feel the need to smile just to make others comfortable.
The crisis and some things you can do
It’s bad, guys. If you don’t already know, with more carbon dumped into the atmosphere every year, we are fast approaching a point of no return. Next year will be pivotal. Why? The European Union plans to tax countries that aren’t actively fighting climate change. China’s five-year plan for development will be determined. And we’ll see whether Donald Trump continues to ignore the problem.
So what can you do? Well, this is what Greta’s family started doing to help with her mental health and support her cause. They changed their habits and made certain sacrifices to reduce their emissions. This included:
- Cutting meat out of their diet (mostly)
- Installing solar panels
- Growing their own vegetables
- Giving up flying
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