Greta Thunberg (born 3 January 2003) is a Swedish teenager who is credited with raising global awareness of the risks posed by global warming and climate change, and with holding politicians to account for their lack of action on what Thunberg calls the "climate crisis".
Early life (there is no other)
Thunberg was born in 2003 in Stockholm, Sweden. She says she first heard about climate change in 2011, when she was 8 years old, and could not understand why so little was being done about it, like many other 8-year-olds who continually ask, "Are we there yet?"
Three years later, she became depressed and lethargic, stopped talking and eating, and was eventually diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), and selective mutism, which means she is unable to speak, except when she selects to, which usually occurs at the podium addressing a huge concert hall of climate change activists, and almost never occurs when her Mum asks you, "How was your day, Dear?" These maladies were surely a reaction to humankind's despoiling of the planet, or possibly to puberty and being ignored prior to the Junior Prom. Thunberg acknowledges that her diagnosis "has limited me before", but says she views autism not as an illness but her "superpower". Along the same lines, she developed a pronounced limp and went for a Handicapped Parking placard despite being too young to drive.
Thunberg challenged her parents to lower the family's carbon footprint by becoming vegan and giving up food. Commercial air travel was, of course, also out of the question. This in part forced her mother to give up her international career as an opera singer, the other part being chronic tone-deafness.
Activism in 2018
In August 2018, at 15 years of age, Greta took time off school to demonstrate outside the Swedish parliament, holding up a sign calling for stronger climate action, and for the legalization of underage vaping. Soon, other failing students engaged in similar protests in their own communities. Together, they organized a school climate strike movement, under the name Fridays for the F-F-F-Fucking Future. After Greta addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference and then "mooned" them, student strikes took place every week somewhere in the world. In 2019, there were at least two violent, uncoordinated multi-city protests involving over one million pupils who didn't do their schoolwork.
Greta's father — who, like her mother, has given up his career so as not to upset her by having an impact on the air and water — does not like her missing school, but said: "[We] respect that she wants to make a stand. She can either learn things and be really unhappy, or nag other people and be happy". The other people, for their part, seem to enjoy being scolded that the planet will only exist for 16 more years, by someone who has only existed for 15.
In August 2019, Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Plymouth to New York City in Maliza II, a 60-foot racing yacht owned by European royals, its solar panels in plain view while its turbines were discreetly below the water line. The trip was a carbon-neutral transatlantic crossing serving as a demonstration of Thunberg's declared beliefs of the importance of reducing emissions; discounting, as is customary, the carbon consequences of manufacturing the solar panels and turbines. The demonstration also had to exclude the carbon footprint of the daily helicopter airdrop of certified vegan dinners like free-range potatoes, as simply dropping a line into the ocean and catching fish would have planet-wide consequences, as well as not being fair to the fish.
The voyage lasted from 14 to 28 August 2019. While in the Americas, Thunberg attended two international climate change conferences, as well as two-a-day press conferences. She was to keynote the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Chile, but it was moved to Madrid after massive street protests in Chile over subway fare hikes to cover the purchase of carbon credits.
Thus, Greta returned east in November 2019 on the Zutalors 45, a luxury yacht likewise laden with enough solar cells to power all onboard activities except the cameras and klieg lights of the film crew documenting her historic trip.
The voyage assumed that Greta would somehow acquire seamanship, lest the catamaran break apart, its 17,400-pound Fiberglass hulls becoming more single-use plastic clogging the ocean, or worse yet, have to power up its dual 30-horsepower Volvo engines and draw down some of those 672 liters of diesel fuel. Her father and other celebrities flew to America to actually sail the vessel so Greta could achieve her zero-emission return. In all, the equivalent of fifteen dinosaurs laid down their lives to showcase her sustainable trip.
2019 Person of the Year
In December 2019, Time magazine awarded Greta its "Person of the Year" award. The award (formerly "Man of the Year" and briefly expanded to "Man, Woman, Gender-ambiguous Person, Automaton, or Abstraction of the Year") says it commemorates "the person who made the most difference in the year — for good or ill." Greta thus took her place alongside Hitler and Mao, though the latter ran their own re-education camps.
"Greta came from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement," the Time Editor-in-Chief explained. "She embodies youth activism." In other words, She might read our magazine. But probably not.
Greta, who has declined several environmentalism awards, was not encouraged by the Time designation. "The changes required are still nowhere in sight," she lamented upon hearing of the award. She vowed to shriek even louder in the future. Time editors noted that Barack Obama also "came from essentially nowhere" to lead a pretty large nation and, by the time of his Nobel Peace Prize, his own changes were still "nowhere in sight," intentionally. The editors had to squint especially tightly to avoid seeing potential nominees like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her "squad" in Congress, who also came out of nowhere to lead a large movement that has also resulted in business-as-usual.
Greta is known for her blunt, profanity-laced speaking manner, both in public and to political leaders and assemblies. Unfortunately, a finishing school would surely aggravate her numerous maladies even worse than grade school did. She speaks so as to challenge her elders; once, before the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, she famously asked delegates, "This isn't right, I shouldn't be here. How dare you make me hold my breath until I turn purple?" The thought of the frail waif further wasting away and foreclosing even more life options melted even the coldest hearts of steely profiteers, and several agreed on the spot to wind up their businesses and lay everyone off in order to save the planet. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres praised Greta's compelling narrative, though he added that she was "pretty plain-looking — the braids don't overcome it — and woefully underendowed."
Greta has never been seen in the same room with Ocasio-Cortez, but would surely support the latter's "Green New Deal" manifesto, if she were ever to deign to return to the classroom to learn what it is.
Some media have described Greta's impact on the world stage as the "Greta Thunberg effect". This is because it is more flattering than calling it the Beavis and Butt-Head effect.