Regardless of how you feel about Greta Thunberg’s activism, you have to admit, for an 18-year-old, she has an impressive resume.
Time magazine’s youngest ever Person of the Year (2019), inclusion in Time’s 100 most influential people, Forbes list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women (2019), and three consecutive nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize (2019-2021), to name a few.
Greta’s meteoric rise to fame came when, at only 15 years of age, she first convinced her parents to adopt lifestyle changes to reduce their own carbon footprint. She then moved on to Skolstrejk för klimatet (School strike for climate).
Soon, other students were holding protests of their own, in their own communities. Together they organized a school climate strike movement called Fridays for Future. Student strikes took place every week somewhere in the world.
Then came the media circus, politicians, world travel, and climate conferences on the world stage. She neither anticipated nor was prepared for what social media has dubbed “the Greta Effect.”
The sudden thrust onto the world stage brought both awareness to her cause, and death threats to her and her family members.
And all of this while dealing with an eating disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, selective mutism (only speaks when words are necessary), OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), and depression.
She sits in front of the Swedish Parliament with a simple sign that reads (in English) “School strike for climate.”
She keeps up with her studies at home and her strikes alone in front of Parliament until people take notice and begin to join her one by one. That is how it all began.
She wasn’t looking for fame or fortune, she had a message, and it resonated with people. The message is simple: “We can’t just continue living as if there no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow. That is all we are saying. What are we leaving for that tomorrow?”
She’s been around the world to find out. She wanted to hear the science, and that is what she wants the rest of us to hear. Not the fear-mongering, not the hype, but the actual science.
One fact I found fascinating from a three-part special about Thunberg on BBC TV was when COVID first hit and nearly the entire globe shut down, the emissions of nitrous oxide decreased by 17 per cent, globally. It went back to 2006 levels. Factories were shut down, cars and trucks stopped, airplanes remained grounded. They even stopped cutting down the Amazon. Nearly everything was shut down that belches out harmful emissions. It was a time we have never seen in all of humanity. Nothing has shut the globe down.
It illustrated to me, how much each and every one of us needs to make changes, right now, every day.
Greta became both the poster child for climate change action and a punching bag. I found this child to have incredible courage and conviction and a quest to find out the science of where we are at in our global challenge and where we need to be.
She has spoken with the Pope, world leaders, heads of states, activists, climatologists, scientists of all kinds from all over the world. She has seen the effects, heard the stories, and she remains undaunted in getting the message out there that we need to do something today.
If we don’t, what kind of a world am I leaving for my grandchildren? It sickens me to say, but it’s a worse one than I grew up in, and I did this, so did you.
I admire Greta for being graceful under fire, for being passionate, for wanting facts she can convey, for taking the idiots out there in stride and not internalizing their hate. She leads people to action, to recycle, drive less, reuse, garden, and find ways to make our carbon footprint smaller.
After all, isn’t what many parents say true, “out of the mouths of babes.”
Well, let’s learn from this child. Let’s problem-solve.
Let’s help her and our children and grandchildren too.