Greta Thunberg, 16-year-old climate activist with Asperger’s, named TIME Person of the Year
By Alex Starr
WHO IS GRETA THUNBERG
Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist with Asperger’s has accomplished an incredible feat that most can only dream of: she has become TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year at the young age of 16. Thunberg’s rise to fame began in August 2018 when she started a school strike against climate change outside the Swedish parliament. What began as a single person strike with a hand-painted sign has turned into a movement of over 100,000 students and 150 countries to take action for the planet called the “Future For Fridays” campaign.
HER INSPIRATION FOR BEGINNING A STRIKE
As Thunberg became more aware of the detrimental consequences of climate change, it occurred to her that one day she might have children or grandchildren, and our actions now affect their future. She doesn’t want to have to be asked “why didn’t you do more for our planet?” or “why did you stay silent?” so instead, she decided to take action. She went on a school strike, sat outside the Swedish parliament, and demanded change so that she and the generations that come after her can have a future.
HOW ASPERGER’S CONTRIBUTES THUNBERG’S PERSPECTIVE
When Thunberg was 11-years-old, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD, and selective mutism. In her words, this basically means that she only speaks when it is necessary. Thunberg has determined that now is one of those times as our planet is in a downward spiral under the pressures of global warming. She explains that for people on the spectrum, things tend to be black and white, which is why she can’t understand why we don’t just stop carbon emissions, for example, if that is what the environment needs. She asserts that it really is that simple. It’s black and white. If we need to change our habits in order to stop climate change, then that is what we should do. “There are no gray areas when it comes to survival,” she states in her Ted Talk. Life either goes on or it doesn’t. We either take action against global warming, or we let our planet die. Thunberg believes that every world leader and politician should be discussing nothing else, yet it is her observation that climate change is rarely addressed.
RECEIVING THE HONOR OF TIME PERSON OF THE YEAR
The decision to make Greta Thunberg the TIME Person of the Year was announced Wednesday morning by the TIME Editor-in-Chief on the Today Show. The TIME cover story highlights Thunberg’s skyrocketing upswing to fame as the face of the climate change movement and the emphasis that she places on reducing carbon emissions. Other accomplishments for Thunberg this year include giving a compelling speech at the Nations Climate Action Summit, being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and becoming the youngest person in history to receive the TIME honor. Thunberg’s leading principle is that we should take action instead of searching for hope because once we make a change, hope will follow. She hopes that we can resolve the crisis of climate change in time.