Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg is Time's Person of the Year
Greta Thunberg: The coolest environmental activist you need to know about
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2019, NBC's Today show announced on Wednesday.
Thunberg, who turns 17 in January and who is known for her blunt, straightforward speaking manner, has urged immediate action to address what she describes as the global climate crisis.
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.
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.