You may have heard of her. Greta Thunberg has made a global movement winning over 22 awards and traveling all around the world speaking against climate change. Her words have started hundreds of school strikes and have changed the minds of leaders around the world. This all started with one action.
Born on January 3rd, 2003 in Stockholm Sweden, Greta Thunberg first learned about climate change at the age of 8. She was so depressed that she stopped eating and talking, losing 10 kilograms in 2 months. She was later diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder and selective mutism. In her words, it basically means “I only speak when I think it’s necessary. Now is one of those moments.”
2018 was the year her activism took off and her life would forever be changed. At age 15, instead of spending her school days learning math and history, she stood outside of the Swedish Parliament holding up a sign that read Skolstrejk för klimatet (School strike for the climate). Students started to join her campaign and together they started a school climate strike named Fridays for Future.
In the month of October 2018 over 20,000 students around the globe held climate strikes in at least 270 cities. Thunberg posted a photo of that first strike on instagram and it was quickly shared by other high-profile young activists. A representative of the Finnish Bank even quoted Greta’s tweets to 200,000 followers.
A year later, at age 16, she traveled from England to New York city to speak at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. To avoid her own carbon footprint she sailed across the Atlantic ocean in a solar powered 60 foot long racing yacht for 15 days to prove her commitment against global warming.
She gave a spell-bounding speech to world leaders saying, “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope? How dare you!“
Greta Thunberg had planned to attend the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference but it was announced it wouldn’t be held in Santiego anymore and would be moved to Madrid, Spain. Refusing to fly Thunberg joined two Australians who offered to sail her to the conference. She spoke once again asking for concrete action as greenhouse gasses were rising 4% every year since 2015.
She would then go to speak in Canada, London, Switzerland, New Zealand and Brussels inspiring thousands around the globe. Some call it The Greta Effect. Politicians started to recognize this crisis. The labour politician Ed Miliband even said, “You have woken us up. We thank you. All the young people who have gone on strike have held up a mirror to our society. You have stood out from the crowd.”
Greta Thunberg was named one of TIME’s 25 most influential teens as well as Swedish Woman of the Year. She won the Nobel Peace Prize, Fritt Ord Award, Ambassador of Conscience Award, Geddes Environment Medal TIME’s person of the year, and the International Children’s Peace prize. Should I go on?
This is such an enthralling story. It shows that no matter what age you are, you can change the world. In her words “No one is too small to make a difference.” We are all change makers. It just depends when you choose to step into that role.