The teenage Swedish climate activist has been obsessed with fighting climate change for years, and with the world’s attention, she sparked a global movement.
Greta Thunberg became a household name over the course of a couple of months. At age 16, she became the global face of the climate change movement. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and she was named Time’s 2019 person of the year. In what became her defining moment in a year of defining moments for climate change, the Swedish activist chastised world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit last September for their inaction.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean,” she said at the summit. “Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
And it all started with skipping school every Friday in her hometown of Stockholm to protest.
With all that global attention, Thunberg was bound to draw criticism. Some found her direct manner abrasive, and others who didn’t believe in climate change felt she was out of her depth and had no idea what she was talking about. Many thought her parents were controlling her, using her as a puppet to further their careers. In fact, Thunberg’s father, Svante, told the BBC that he wasn’t supportive of his daughter skipping school, but over time, her passion for combating climate change won her parents over.
Many critics have accused Greta Thunberg of being a fanatic. And she is one. She has been obsessed with climate change ever since she was a child. She was diagnosed with autism at age 12, a condition she describes as a “superpower.” After going through depression, hardly eating or going to school, Thunberg saw climate change activism as her way of making a difference.
That fanaticism helped spark a global movement. Skipping school every Friday eventually became a mass movement to raise awareness of rising global temperatures. The movement culminated in the Global Climate Strike, a network of protests in 150 countries around the world in September. An estimated 7.6 million people joined the protests, making it among the biggest in history. While the world was aware that climate change was a serious issue before Greta came along, it didn’t act as if it was. Greta, who took a boat across the Atlantic to join the New York march (and to pay the UN a visit), used her fanaticism to inspire others to act. As a result, millions have the same sense of urgency Greta had when she first decided to skip school 18 months ago.