Greta Thunberg: The coolest environmental activist you need to know about
Listen up: We’re sorry to say this, but this 16 year old Climate Change activist is way more awesome than you will ever be.
Meet Greta Thunberg.
She rose to fame in August 2018, when she staged a lone protest outside the Swedish Parliament, holding a hand-painted sign that said, “School Strike for the Climate”. She boycotted classes every Friday for weeks, calling her campaign Fridays for Future, demanding that the Swedish government honours the Paris Climate Accord. Throughout it all, her voice has been very clear - she refuses to let political complacency lead to a future of environmental degradation.
School Strike for Climate now involves students from all over the world, with over 100,000 student protesters. Thunberg’s been named Sweden’s Woman of the Year. She’s had an audience with the Pope. She even gave a speech at the UN Climate Conference, where she said, “Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.”
Subsequent to this, she addressed the World Economic Forum, where she told the crowd, consisting of business leaders, “I want you to panic, I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act, I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is.”
She’s also addressed the EU Parliament, the French National Assembly, the House of Commons in London; she’s had an audience with Barack Obama, and so much more.
She’s even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Yes, at 16.
Here’s her message in a nutshell: we need to fix the planet before it’s too late.
This teenager’s clarity of thought and conviction come through in every step she takes. But that’s the biggest criticism against her as well - that her every move is calculated, manufactured by ‘the green lobby’.
Take, for example, the fact that every journey she sets upon - usually using public transport - is carefully recorded for posterity, posted across social media, neatly packaged as advice and as an example for her peers.
Let’s also look at her latest venture: Thunberg is currently attempting a zero-carbon cross Atlantic journey, from England to New York, to attend the UN Climate Summit next month. She’s doing it on a high tech, 60 foot yacht, which runs on solar power and relies on underwater turbines to generate electricity. Understandably, her voyage is seen as resting on the wings of privilege, and rather distant from what the common man could do to contribute towards mitigating climate change. Her journey is meant to take two weeks, and the overarching idea behind it - negate the carbon footprint left by an airplane.
That being said, Thunberg has overcome some obstacles of her own to maintain the public image she currently holds. The activist has managed to reconcile a very public persona with what could be seen as a vulnerability - she has Asperger’s syndrome. The developmental disorder, which is a form of Autism, is usually characterised by significant difficulties in societal interaction, but she has used the unusual perspective to her advantage. Calling it a gift, she has said that the condition gives her the ability to see things in black and white, and react to issues from outside the box.
Now you see why GQ Magazine called her the Game Changer of the Year.
Greta Thunberg has been riddled with criticism ranging from being called a puppet of the green lobby, to being called just unlikeable, and annoying. She’s been threatened, targeted, bullied, and so much more. The internet isn’t kind to most of us, and it definitely has not been receptive to a 16 year old telling the world how it should be doing better.