Who would have believed a teenage girl from Sweeden with several mental health challenges, is now the international voice for climate change and environmental protection? That’s exactly what Greta Thunberg, aged 17, is today.
The world began to take notice of her in 2018 when she began a strike at her school, meant to bring awareness to climate change. She soon had a following, and her passion and commitment have made her world-renowned.
Climate change is an even more immediate concern today, as we approach 2021, and Greta Thunberg is leading the way. Read on to learn about her and her work.
Who Is Greta Thunberg?
Greta was born in Sweeden in 2003 to artistic parents: her mother a famous opera singer, and her father, an actor. She was diagnosed with Asberger’s syndrome at the age of 11, as well as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Selective Mutism.
She became aware of climate change issues in school when shown movies of littered oceans, and the effects of pollution. Tending towards depression, these scenes affected her, and she began to despair.
At the same time, she began to also take action. She became a vegan, and, along with her mother, no longer flies by airplane. She saw how students in Florida were protesting at their schools for gun control, and thought to start a climate change movement at her own school.
Fridays for Future Movement
At age 15, Greta, with no support from her parents, or her school, began a one-person strike outside the Sweedish Parliament. Her only sign read, “School Strike for Climate Change.” She passed out flyers listing climate issues. She posted her protest on social media, catching the eye of journalists, and soon, people joined her in the protests.
The protests, which took place every Friday until the Sweedish election, inspired students in other countries to start similar movements at their own schools. More journalists took notice, and the movement became global.
International Speaker and Activist
Greta’s move toward fame was quick, and she began to speak at several prestigious events. In 2019 she spoke to the United Nations Climate Summit. She did not give the delegates a soft sell, but spoke her truth, calling for immediate action today, and not to only put hope in young people and the future.
A most famous of the Greta Thunberg quotes that day: ‘How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words!”
Also, in 2019, Greta led what is believed to be the largest climate change gathering in the history of the movement, in Montreal, Canada.
She has been all over the world, criticizing her audiences for their inaction, and calling for adults to act on caring for the earth today. She has also written for several publications and met many world leaders. She has appeared on television frequently, including talk shows and news broadcasts.
Greta Thunberg Achievements
Greta has received many prestigious awards for her activism. Her Fridays for Future youth movement was awarded the Ambassadors of Conscience Award from Amnesty International, the group’s highest honor.
Later in 2019, Greta received something known as the “alternative Nobel Prize.”
This prize is formally known as the Right Livelihood Award, given by a Stockholm organization. They were won over by her forcefulness in demanding swift climate action, backed by scientific fact.
Thunberg also won the Prix Liberte, which commends young people for their activism. She donated her prize money to climate organizations.
Greta was Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019 and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018.
Not Just Words, But Actions
What is impressive about Greta Thunberg is that she not only speaks about making immediate change, she has made those changes in her own life. As mentioned, she stopped eating meat at age 12 and convinced her parents to buy electric cars.
When she travels abroad, it is by an electric speedboat that boasts solar power, and no bathroom, (a bucket is given to travelers for personal use.) It took 15 days in that boat to make the journey to the United Nations Climate Summit in the U.S.
Her commitment to not only protesting but setting examples in her own life has captured world interest, especially in a leader so young.
Greta’s words and actions have spurred business, science, and other leaders to come together to address climate change. One such collaboration is the Climate Leadership Council, a bipartisan group that is working globally to address climate concerns well into the future.
Turning Disabilities Into Assets
Although Greta struggles with disabilities, she turns these problems into assets in her work. She says she thinks and feels deeply, and this is what fires her passion for things that matter to her. Although she has not been able to speak at times, she says that when something is of great importance, she has no trouble talking about it.
When she speaks publically, she has fact-checkers review her words for scientific accuracy. She claims to be an introvert and credits the quiet activism of Rosa Parks for her own simple beginnings to her climate projects.
Like most teens, her ability to use social media to send her message out to people all over the world has been an asset that overcomes any of her diagnosed issues.
Greta Thunberg Today
A visit to Greta’s Facebook page shows that the Friday protests continue, although online, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A documentary about Greta’s life is now showing on Hulu, and is entitled, “I am Greta.”
She has sparred on Twitter with Donald Trump on more than one occasion and proves she can hold her own with the president, even when he degrades her efforts.
She believes that climate issues are not concerning enough to world leaders, and continues to deliver that message to all through her writings and posts.
What Can You Do to Help?
Greta told a news station in Canada that everyone can help with climate change by flying less, eating less or no meat, joining an activist movement, and voting.
If you are inspired by this young woman and her cause, visit her on social media, and commit to doing at least one thing she suggests. As Greta Thunberg says, “Now is the hour!”
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