How cool is Greta Thunberg!
Greta Thunberg is a 15-year-old Swedish school girl who began demonstrating about the need for immediate action to combat climate change outside the Swedish parliament.
Her interest in climate change was sparked when at school they showed pictures of starving polar bears, plastic in the ocean and melting ice caps.
Listen to her!
Criticizing the powerful has become routine for this teenager. In December, she addressed the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Poland; in January she told off billionaires at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Her London speech was the last stop of a tour that included meeting the Pope.
“Can you hear me?” Greta asks the 150 members in the UK Houses of Parliament. , Just nine months ago she was a lone figure standing outside the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, carrying a sign emblazoned with Skolstrejk for Klimatet (School Strike for Climate). It was then that the world started listening.
Organizers estimate that on March 15, a remarkable 1.6 million people in 133 countries participated in a climate strike inspired by Thunberg’s solo action—mostly students who walked out of school for a few minutes, an hour or a full day of protest.
Since then, the walkouts have continued, with students around the world united by the #FridaysForFuture and #YouthStrike4Climate hashtags. As well as spreading across Europe, the U.S. and Australia, students in Global South countries experiencing severe effects of climate change — such as India Brazil and Uganda— have taken action too, following Thunberg’s lead.
In the words of Parkland student Emma González, Thunberg’s way of “inspiring steadfast students and shaming apathetic adults” has turned her single idea into a worldwide movement. “There’s a massive intergenerational injustice here,” said 18-year-old U.K. strike organizer Anna Taylor, at the London leg of the global school strike on March 15. “Striking is the only way to make our voices heard.”
She was there for a reason that felt primal and personal. “I felt everything was meaningless and there was no point going to school if there was no future,” Thunberg says. But this time, rather than suffer the pain, she decided to push back at its cause, channeling her sadness into action. “I promised myself I was going to do everything I could do to make a difference,” she says.
Greta, the fighter!
Thunberg attributes her determination to her diagnosis of Asperger’s, a mild form of autism spectrum disorder. “It makes me see the world differently. I see through lies more easily,” she says. “I don’t like compromising. For me, it’s either you are sustainable or not — you can’t be a little bit sustainable.” Her openness about her diagnosis, and willingness to share about her experiences of depression, anxiety and eating disorders, are another reason why many see Thunberg as a role model. “To be different is not a weakness. It’s a strength in many ways, because you stand out from the crowd.”
The Greta effect
Meanwhile, there is a Greta effect within the home too. Svante and Thunberg’s mother Malena Ernman have given up meat, installed solar panels on their home and stopped traveling by air—decisions they made because they tired of arguments with their stubborn daughter, Svante likes to joke.
Since her rise to fame, Greta Thunberg has become the target of negativity and trolling. “It’s quite hilarious when the only thing people can do is mock you, or talk about your appearance or personality, as it means they have no argument, or nothing else to say,” she says, reading some negative replies she’s received to a recent tweet. “I’m not going to let that stop me,” she says, “because I know this is so much more important.”
NOT A FUN FACT
According to statistics, India is one of the top countries to emit greenhouse emissions.