Greta Thunberg is a sixteen year old environmental activist from Sweden. In August 2018, she started protesting outside the Swedish parliament instead of being at school with a sign that said “School strike for climate“. At first, she was alone, but soon, the other students joined her, protesting in similar ways in their own communities. It grew into a movement called Fridays for Future, focusing on the dangers that global warming is posing to the Earth.
In 2019, there have been strikes happening every week somewhere in the world organized by students, and at least two multi-city protests that involved more than one million students each.
Greta started small, convincing her family to make changes in their daily life (not eating meat, not flying), and as a single protester, but she managed to achieve absolutely fantastic results. She made multiple speeches in front of world leaders at different summits and gatherings, the one that recently gained the most attention being the one at the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23rd. She sent a powerful and heartbreaking message to the world:
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?
You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”
Many people praised her, but some mocked her, such as the US president Donald Trump, who tweeted, quite in his style:
“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
However, it could be said that she had the last laugh, as she sarcastically changed her Twitter bio to
“A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.”
Of course, he was not the only one to launch more or less vicious attacks on a literal child, just because they either do not believe her, or do not want to believe her.
Many attacks on her have been personal, having nothing to do with her activism and focusing on things that she did not choose, such as being a white girl from a first would country, having famous parents (those two things apparently mean that she has no right to complain about anything because she ‘has it good’?), or having Asperger’s syndrome.
However, she is not letting anyone stop her or get her down. She called Asperger’s her superpower, saying that it helps her not care about social codes. She also tweeted: “When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning! I have Aspergers and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances- being different is a superpower.”