Writer: Anusha T.
Visual: Andi L.
Editor: Kay S.
A girl wakes up on a Friday morning, she eats her breakfast, gets ready and packs her bag. Except, she doesn’t wait in line for the school bus, she makes her way to the Swedish parliament. She goes up the steps and takes a seat, holding up a poster that says: School Strike for the Climate. One year later, she has single-handedly inspired 4 million students to protest outside their parliaments in 161 different countries.
This girl’s name is Greta Thunberg. The 16-year old Swedish climate activist is storming our world, demanding changes in the climate change realm. Anushka V. (sophomore) voiced her opinion on Greta’s impact on the world saying, “She has inspired other young people across the world to speak up for issues they are passionate about and she doesn’t feel that these global issues are too big for children to deal with. She also holds politicians accountable to their jobs and there is an evident change in laws and policies since she has begun her advocacies.”.
So how can anyone disapprove of this young girl who is becoming a leader and role model for her generation and beyond? Surprisingly enough, there are a number of people who are not happy with the attention she receives. The anti-Greta brigade has expressed a number of diverse reasons for their perspective ranging from “she’s not qualified” “she’s getting disproportionate attention because she is a young girl” and of course “climate change doesn’t exist”.
Trump sarcastically tweeted that she was a “happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future”. The people (typically old, misogynistic men) commenting about Greta have gone so far as to tweet death threats. When Greta Thunberg chose to take a boat to reduce her carbon footprint instead of a plane on her trip to New York to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit. This outspoken, conservative billionaire businessman Arron Banks had the audacity to tweet, “Freak yachting accidents do happen in August”. Worse yet, a Fox News guest, Michael Knowles, called her “a mentally ill Swedish child” due to her diagnosis of Aspergers. Greta handles all of this hate with grace. In a public response recently posted on Facebook, she stated, “There is one other argument that I can’t do anything about. And that is the fact that I’m ”just a child and we shouldn’t be listening to children.” But that is easily fixed – just start to listen to the rock-solid science instead. Because if everyone listened to the scientists and the facts that I constantly refer to – then no one would have to listen to me or any of the other hundreds of thousands of school children on strike for the climate across the world. Then we could all go back to school.”
She addresses people mocking her Asperger’s diagnosis with, “Asperger’s is not a disease, it’s a gift…Since I am not that good at socializing I did this instead. I was so frustrated that nothing was being done about the climate crisis and I felt like I had to do something, anything. And sometimes NOT doing things – like just sitting down outside the parliament – speaks much louder than doing things.”
Dr. Renee Lertzman, an environmental psychologist attributes this hatred to the fact that Greta tells the cold, hard truth. She states, “To date, we are not seeing the kind of leadership we urgently need: truth-telling and grounded…She argues adults are so enraged by her – a child in plaits – because she is telling them what they do not want to hear.” This is exactly what some people of the older generation are finding it hard to swallow. These people are unwilling to sway their decisions from corrupting the earth in order to gain money. And fundamentally, they hate the notion that they have something to learn from a teenager. Despite the people who would rather stand in her way than get something done, Greta has the ability to stay razor-focused on her goal and move millions of people to shake off their apathy and join the movement to save our earth. Greta shames a few and inspires many more just by being her authentic self.
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Grose, Jessica. “Youth Climate Activist Responds to Dinesh D’Souza’s Attack on Greta Thunberg.” TheHill, The Hill, 24 Sept. 2019, thehill.com/hilltv/rising/462749-youth-climate-activist-responds-to-dinesh-dsouzas-attack-on-greta-thunberg.
Woodward, Aylin. “How 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Became the Face of Climate-Change Activism.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 24 Sept. 2019, http://www.businessinsider.com/greta-thunberg-bio-climate-change-activist-2019-9.