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Greta Thunberg: Who is the Swedish environmental activist?

By Sophie – on in News, Environment

Curious about the renown Swedish environmental activist who told influential figures to stop thinking about their bank accounts? Here are 19 facts about her.

1 How did she gain attention?

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg came to the spotlight in 2018, when she began to be noticed every Friday outside the Swedish parliament, missing class to protest the lack of actions in the face of climate change.

Neither her parents nor her teachers supported her school strike every Friday at the time.


2 She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Wikipedia

Following the footsteps of Malala Yousafzai, who was a teenager when she won this great honour, Greta Thunberg could be the next winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

With the climate crisis being at the forefront of our minds this year, it would be extremely surprising if she didn’t win the award given all the energy she devotes to this cause.


3 She has had considerable influence on the world at just 16

FlickR

The Time Magazine deemed her one of the 100 most influential people in 2019.

After all, Thunberg addressed a United Nations summit at just 15 with no degree yet, and at 16 spoke to the UN again during the Climate Action Summit, taking place in New York City. She even made the cover of the Time Magazine in May 2019.


4 Greta was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and selected mutism

Wikimedia Commons

When her parents took her to specialists to figure out what was going on with her—why she stopped talking, eating and was depressed—, they learned she had Asperger’s syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder and selected mutism.

This is partly why the teen speaks so bluntly: she speaks when she thinks it is necessary and will not waste time saying comforting words even in front of influential people of the corporate world and other fields.


5 Being on the autism spectrum helps her being a great activist

FlickR

From her own words, she sees almost everything in black and white; in other words, she’s not very nuanced. For her, there is no grey area when it comes to survival. “Either we go on as a civilization, or we don’t. We have to change.”

She has also said she’s not good at lying, and she doesn’t enjoy “participating in the social game that the rest of you seem to be so fond of.” She is not one to go shopping for fun. As an activist, that has helped her to protest restlessly, spreading awareness about the global climate change crisis.


6 She learned about climate change when she was 8

Greta Thunberg | Facebook

At the time, she didn’t understand how humans could change the Earth’s climate while not caring and not doing anything about it.

She thought it should be our number one preoccupation as if a world war was going on. And that we should do everything in our power for the planet to achieve full recovery.


7 She has sailed to North America instead of taking the plane

Greta Thunberg | Facebook

In lieu of purchasing plane tickets to address the UN in NYC, Thunberg chose to sail across the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to travel while emitting zero emissions.

The teenager has chosen to ban air travel completely, which means she only travels by boat, train or public transit.


8 Greta Thunberg is vegan and has convinced her family to be too

Wikimedia Commons

As she learned about climate change, Thunberg became obsessed with reducing her carbon footprint. One efficient way to do that is becoming vegan.

She does not consume or purchase animal products since livestock is responsible for more carbon emissions than all types of transportation combined together. She has convinced her parents to become vegan as well.


9 She has a sister who is also famous in Sweden

Facebook | Greta Thunberg

Beata Ernman Thunberg is two years younger than Greta and therefore don’t have responsibilities such as a mortgage yet. She has however already followed in the footsteps of their mother and built a singing career.

Like Greta, she has Asperger’s syndrome and OCD, and she is also diagnosed with ADHD.


10 “Fridays for Future”

BigStock

Soon enough, Greta she was joined by other students and they formed the school strike movement which spread across Sweden and the world under the name “Fridays for Future.”

To this day, school strikes are organized every Friday in the world among students for kindergarten to university.


11 She was subsequently very ill when she was 11

Anders Hellberg | Wikimedia Commons

Greta Thunberg literally fell into depression, not eating nor talking for months. Her parents got worried and researched treatments.

Her preoccupations with climate change were just so big so early on that she became depressed about the lack of response on the parts of the authorities and people in general.


12 The “Greta Thunberg effect” is real

Since she gained visibility, numerous world leaders have been touched by her speeches and have invested in and made changes to their environmental policies.

In Sweden, following her condemnation of air travel, domestic train travels have increased in popularity by 8% while domestic flights’ popularity decreased. Furthermore, books on climate change adressed to children have boomed this year.


13 She is a published author

Anders Hellberg

Greta Thunberg published in 2019 No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, which is a collection of her speeches so far.

She will not keep any of the proceeds and instead will donate them to charity.


14 She has inspired artists

Wikimedia commons

In addition to inspiring people to act against global warming and change their habits, Greta Thunberg also influenced numerous artists across the globe.

Inhabitants of Bristol, UK, have to credit Jody Thomas for this gigantic mural which took 8 days to finish due to its considerable size—over 50 feet high.


15 Greta Thunberg was born in a privileged environment

Greta Thunberg | Twitter

The teenager was not born in an outrageously wealthy family with impressive real estate, but almost. Her mother, Malena Ernman, is a distinguished opera singer.

Her father, Svante Thunberg, is an actor, and her paternal grandfather is an actor and a director.


16 Meghan and Harry follow her on Instagram

express.co.uk

If you didn’t know already, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who are known for their modern approach to royalty and breaking some rules, have created an Instagram account. Those claiming that they have no business being in social media should know that they are using it for a good cause.

They are resorting to Instagram to raise awareness for global issues and even started following Greta’s account.


17 She met the Pope

catholicclimatemovement

Greta also met with the Pope prior to the great march against climate change. She was able to give him a handshake and invited him to join the climate strike.

We have to give credit where credit is due. Greta is an incredible human and her young age and Asperger’s syndrome makes her all the more impressive.


18 Her mother participated in Eurovision

metro.co.uk

Greta’s mother Malena is a well-known opera singer in Sweden. She even represented her country in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009 and showed great energy.

Her mom, however, had to trade being an opera singer for doing musicals after she decided to stop flying since she could not travel as easily to perform.


19 Many celebs support her

usatoday

Multiple celebrities have expressed their support towards Greta on social media, have reposted her speech or expressed how much they admire her.

It is great to see the support from personalities such as Anne Hathaway, Leonardo DiCaprioChris Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra and more although we doubt that the strong and determined young woman will feel star-struck and will need recovery after reading all those comments.


20 A psychologist says he’s worried about her

After giving a speech on climate change in New York last Tuesday, Greta seems to have caught the attention of a famous Australian psychologist, Dr Carr-Gregg who thinks that a child should not be used as a ‘political props’.

Dr Carr-Gregg said: ‘I worry about her going the same as child TV stars, that they just burn out and potentially have a disastrous psychological outcome'[…]. He also added: ‘She’s now put herself at the centre of worldwide either Greta-phobia or Greta-mania and I don’t think any 16-year-old girl should be’.

He is concerned that the enormous pressure on his shoulders may end up causing him unnecessary stress and depression.


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Sophie

Sophie holds a bachelor's degree in biology. She has always been passionate about literature and writing, which is why she likes to write scientific articles for Get-Science whenever she has the opportunity. Although her favourite subject is biology (of course!), she is also interested in astronomy as well as the environment.