Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg

© Image Copyright : Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: Anders Hellberg

Overview

* Young activist who warns that climate change will inflict deadly catastrophe upon the earth and humanity
* Views capitalism as an evil system “defined by colonialism, imperialism, oppression and genocide”
* Portrays America as a nation infested with white racism


Background

Greta Thunberg was born on January 3, 2003 in Stockholm, Sweden. She is the daughter of Malena Ernman, a Swedish opera singer, and Svante Thunberg, a former actor.

By the age of 11, Greta struggled with depression accompanied by an eating disorder that caused her to lose 22 pounds in just two months. She would later explain that her concerns about “climate change” had initially spawned her depression, which eventually, in turn, gave rise to her career as an activist:

“I think my concern about the environment and climate change began in school, when I was maybe 8 or 9-years-old. I saw and heard these horrible stories about what humans had done to the environment, and what we were doing to the climate, that the climate was changing…. I just couldn’t understand how we could just continue not caring about this. I became depressed. I saw that everything was so wrong, and nothing mattered. How I got out of that depression was by thinking to myself, ‘I can do so much, one person can do so much. And so I should try to do everything I can to change things, instead of just doing nothing.’”

Aside from the depression that plagued her during her youth, Thunberg was also diagnosed variously with selective mutism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and Asperger’s syndrome. As a young activist, she actually grew to embrace her Asperger’s diagnosis — on the premise that while it “sometimes makes me a bit different from the norm,” she viewed her uniqueness as a type of personal “superpower.”

In an effort to help reduce the carbon emissions purportedly contributing to the potentially devastating consequences of “climate change,” Thunberg in her youth encouraged her own family to: eat vegan food instead of meat, stop flying on airplanes, and drive electric cars rather than traditional gasoline-combustion vehicles. Her mother, in response to the daughter’s pleadings, went so far as to stop traveling internationally for her opera performances, resolving instead to work exclusively in Sweden.

School Strike for Climate

On August 20, 2018, Thunberg led a student protest called Skolstrejk för Klimatet (School Strike for Climate) — modeled after the pro-gun-control “March for Our Lives” protests in the United States — outside of the Swedish Parliament building. She developed the idea after coming into contact with various anti-climate-change activists, including Bo Thorén of Fossil Free Dalsland. During the August 20 event, Thunberg distributed handouts that read: “I am doing this because you adults are shitting on my future.”

Citing heat waves and wildfires that she said were becoming increasingly commonplace in Sweden as a result of “climate change,” Thunberg announced that she would not return to school until Sweden’s 2018 general election on September 9, 2018. Instead of attending her classes, she sat on the steps outside the Parliament building each day during school hours with a sign that read “Skolstrejk för Klimatet” (School Strike for Climate). Her objective was to pressure the Swedish government to enact more aggressive policies aimed at reducing the nation’s carbon emissions by at least 15% every year. Thunberg also called upon the world’s more prosperous nations to implement anti-climate-change measures as enumerated in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. “I am doing this because nobody else is doing anything,” she explained. “It is my moral responsibility to do what I can. I want the politicians to prioritize the climate question, focus on the climate and treat it like a crisis.”

In the course of her Student Strike for Climate initiative, Thunberg came into contact with a man named Ingmar Rentzhog, a wealthy public-relations professional and a fellow climate alarmist, who utilized Thunberg’s rising profile to advance the fortunes of his own organization, “We Don’t Have Time.”

Declaration of Rebellion

On October 31, 2018, Thunberg presented a series of ambitious climate demands in a speech she delivered at the “Declaration of Rebellion” in London’s Parliament Square. Among her remarks were the following:

“Furthermore, does no one ever speak about the aspect of equity, or climate justice, clearly stated everywhere in the Paris agreement and the Kyoto protocol, which is absolutely necessary to make the Paris agreement work, on a global scale? That means that rich countries need to get down to zero emissions, within 6–12 years, so that people in poorer countries can heighten their standard of living by building some of the infrastructures that we have already built. Such as roads, hospitals, electricity, schools, and clean drinking water. Because how can we expect countries like India or Nigeria to care about the climate crisis if we, who already have everything, don’t care even a second about it or our actual commitments to the Paris agreement?”

In the same speech, Thunberg articulated the overarching goals of her activism: “Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope, I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic, I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act, I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is.”

Fridays for Future

Before long, Thunberg coined the slogan Fridays for Future as a new name for her weekly School Strike for Climate protests. By December 2018, she had inspired some 20,000 students to follow her lead in skipping school each Friday in nearly 300 cities and towns across the globe. That same month, Thunberg was invited to speak at the United Nations Climate Change Summit, where she met personally with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. And at a December 2018 climate-change conference in Poland, Thunberg denounced the damage that existing governments and their leaders had been doing to the environment since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution: “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago. We have to understand what the older generation has dealt to us, what mess they have created that we have to clean up and live with. We have to make our voices heard.”

By 2019, Thunberg’s Fridays For Future demonstrations saw millions of schoolchildren skipping classes on Fridays each week in order to protest their governments’ allegedly weak climate-change policies.

International Climate Strike

On March 15, 2019, over 2 million participants from more than 135 nations participated in the first International Climate Strike, which was part of the School Strike for Climate/Fridays for Future movement inspired by Thunberg.

A second global strike was held on May 24, 2019, featuring hundreds of thousands of protesters in some 1,600 demonstrations across 150 countries.

And in a subsequent wave of protests from September 20-27, 2019, between 6 million and 7.6 million young people participated in rallies that were held in approximately 6,100 locations across 185 countries.

Addressing the French Parliament

Speaking to members of the French Parliament in July 2019, Thunberg stated, “You don’t have to listen to us. But you have to listen to science And that is all we ask, to unite behind the science.”

Deriding President Trump

In August 2019, Thunberg, in an effort to avoid creating the types of greenhouse-gas emissions associated with air travel, crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a zero-emissions sailboat in order to attend the upcoming United Nations Climate Action Summit which was scheduled for September. Upon her arrival in the U.S. on August 28, she said at a press conference: “People always ask me about Donald Trump … my message for him is, ‘listen to the science.’ He obviously doesn’t do that.”

On November 1, 2019, Thunberg appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where the host asked her if she would ever consider sitting down with President Trump to talk about her climate activism. “I don’t understand why I would do that,” Thunberg told DeGeneres, to loud applause from the studio audience. “I don’t see what I could tell him that he hasn’t already heard, and I just think it would be a waste of time, really.”

Thunberg’s Famous Speech at the UN Climate Action Summit (“How Dare You!”)

At the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City on September 23, 2019, Thunberg delivered an impassioned speech in which she condemned global leaders for having failed to do more to curb greenhouse-gas emissions across the globe. Said the young activist:

“My message is that we’ll be watching you. 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!

“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 fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

“You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.

“The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5°C, and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.

“Fifty percent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist.

“So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences.

“To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5°C global temperature rise – the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] – the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on January 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons.

“How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just ‘business as usual’ and some technical solutions? With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8 1/2 years.

“There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.

“You are failing us. But 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.”

Praise from Barack Obama

In September 2019, former President Barack Obama used his Facebook account to heap effusive praise upon Thunberg: “At just 16 years old, Greta Thunberg is already one of our planet’s greatest advocates. Her age might have something to do with it. With full knowledge that her generation will bear the heaviest burden of climate change, she’s unafraid to believe that progress is possible—and fight for real change. She’s an example of why Michelle [Obama] and I started the Obama Foundation — because we believe in a future that’s shaped by the courage and hope of young people like Greta.”

Demanding That Facebook Censor Her Critics

On October 23, 2019, Thunberg threatened to stop using Facebook if the social-media platform did not properly censor her critics: “I am, like many others, questioning whether I should keep using Facebook or not. Allowing hate speech, the lack of fact checking and of course the issues of interfering with democracy…are among many, many other things that are very upsetting. The constant lies and conspiracy theories about me and countless of others of course result in hate, death threats and ultimately violence. This could easily be stopped if Facebook wanted to….I find the lack of taking responsibility very disturbing. But I’m sure that if they are challenged and if enough of us demand change — then change will come.”

Explaining the Environmental Movement’s Ties to Broader Radical Politics

In a November 2019 essay co-authored with several fellow climate alarmists, Thunberg noted that the envirionmentalist movement had tentacles that extended into a wide array of political spheres: “[T]he climate crisis is not just about the environment. It is a crisis of human rights, of justice, and of political will. Colonial, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression have created and fueled it. We need to dismantle them all.”

Praise from Leonardo DiCaprio

On November 1, 2019, Actor Leonardo DiCaprio met Thunberg and then posted the following to his Instagram account: “There are few times in human history where voices are amplified at such pivotal moments and in such transformational ways – but @GretaThunberg has become a leader of our time. History will judge us for what we do today to help guarantee that future generations can enjoy the same livable planet that we have so clearly taken for granted. I hope that Greta’s message is a wake-up call to world leaders everywhere that the time for inaction is over. It is because of Greta, and young activists everywhere that I am optimistic about what the future holds. It was an honor to spend time with Greta. She and I have made a commitment to support one another, in hopes of securing a brighter future for our planet. It was an honor to spend time with Greta. She and I have made a commitment to support one another, in hopes of securing a brighter future for our planet.”

Thunberg’s Rapidly Growing Fame and Influence

In addition to the luminaries cited earlier in this profile, Thunberg, by the end of 2019, had also met with such high-profile figures as Pope Francis, Justin Trudeau, Al Gore, and Nancy Pelosi. She was also named as TIME magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year for her activism.

Demanding Radical Changes to the World’s Economies

During the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, Thunberg argued for the enactment of drastic changes to the way the world’s economies were organized: “The climate and ecological crisis cannot be solved within today’s political and economic systems. That isn’t an opinion. That’s a fact.”

Supporting Black Lives Matter & Portraying America As Racist

After the infamous death of a black Minneapolis man named George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer on May 25, 2020, Thunberg stated that the ensuing Black Lives Matter riots and protests indicated that Americans from coast to coast had “passed a social tipping point, we can no longer look away from what our society has been ignoring for so long whether it is equality, justice or sustainability.”

On May 30, 2020, Thunberg tweeted: “Devastating to see the development taking place in the USA. Centuries of structural and systematic racism and social injustice won’t go away by itself. We need a global structural change. The injustices must come to an end. #BlackLivesMatter

And on June 5, 2020, Thunberg tweeted: “Still waiting for the EU [European Union] and individual democratic nations to officially condemn the police brutality and attacks on the free press escalating [in] the USA.”

Environmental Award from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

In July 2020, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation — which claims that humanity “is facing an unprecedented climate crisis” that is “clearly visible in the ever-increasing frequency of heat waves and droughts, the rise in seawater temperatures, melting glaciers and extreme weather events” — awarded Thunberg a 1-million euro Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity for her “contributions to mitigation and adaptation to climate change.”

Endorsing Joe Biden for President

In October 2020, Thunberg endorsed Joe Biden’s presidential campaign against Donald Trump, tweeting: “I never engage in party politics. But the upcoming US elections is above and beyond all that. From a climate perspective it’s very far from enough and many of you of course supported other candidates. But, I mean…you know…damn! Just get organized and get everyone to vote #Biden.”

Rejecting “Overconsumption”

In November 2020, Thunberg exhorted consumers to avoid buying things they did not truly need to purchase on “Black Friday,” traditionally the first day of the Christman shopping season. “Today is black Friday,” she wrote on Twitter. “Overconsumption is wrecking present and future living conditions and the planet itself. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need.”

Testifying at a House of Representatives Hearing

In April 2021, Thunberg testified at a House of Representatives hearing where she stated that if President Biden wished to demonstrate his seriousness about combating global warming, his infrastructure bill should explicitly ban all future government subsidies for fossil-fuel companies. In one particular exchange, Democrat Rep. Ro Khanna asked Thunberg: “Could you speak a little bit from an international perspective about what message we would be sending in Congress if we passed a infrastructure bill and did not have the elimination of fossil fuels subsidies in there after we ran on that and was in the president’s plan, and let’s say we did not have all that. What message would that send to other countries? The young activist replied:

“I guess it would send a message that you’re not really taking it serious, you are talking very much but not really taking action. I know that sounds very oversimplified, but that’s what it all comes down to. We are all talking about these distant targets about how we are going to act on our emissions and so on, but we can talk as much as we want but if we don’t take real, bold action right now by reducing the emissions at the source, it doesn’t really mean anything — at least that’s what I, as a young person talking from an international perspective, that’s the signal you will be sending out.”

At the same House hearing, Thunberg scolded members of Congress for their past and present failure to adequately address the climate crisis. Among her remarks were the following:

  • “I know I’m not the one who is supposed to ask questions here but there is something I really do wonder. How long do you honestly believe that people in power like you will get away with it? How long do you think you can continue to ignore the climate crisis, the global aspect of equity, and historic emissions without being held accountable?”
  • “You get away with it now, but sooner or later, people are going to realize what you have been doing all this time. That’s inevitable. You still have time to do the right thing and save your legacies. But that window of time is not going to last for long What happens then?”
  • “We the young people are the ones who are going to write about you in the history books. We are the ones who get to decide how you will be remembered. So my advice to you is, choose wisely.”
  • “The fact we are still having this discussion, and even more, that we are still subsidizing fossil fuels directly or indirectly using taxpayer money, is a disgrace.”

The “Historical Debt” of the “Global North”

At a November 2021 Fridays for Future youth protest in Glasgow, Scotland, Thunberg suggested that the “Global North” — i.e., the developed world — owed a “historical debt” to the countries of the Global South that it had once colonized. The Global North, she maintained, had created a vastly disproportionate share of worldwide air and water pollution, which in turn inflicted a disproportionate share of undeserved environmental harm upon the Global South. Some of Thunberg’s remarks included the following:

  • “The climate and ecological crisis, of course, does not exist in a vacuum. It is directly tied to other crises and injustices that date back to colonialism and beyond. Crises based on the idea that some people are worth more than others and therefore have the right to exploit others and steal their land and resources.”
  • “It’s much easier for them to simply ignore the historical debt that the countries of the Global North have towards the most affected people and areas.”

Thunberg also accused the “people in power” of living in “their bubble filled with their fantasies” while “the world is literally burning, on fire, and while the people living on the front lines are still bearing the brunt of the climate crisis.”

Supporting Abortion Rights

On September 3, 2021, Thunberg took to her social media accounts to articulate — to her 20 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter — her unwavering support for abortion rights. Specifically, she posted an image that said: “Reasons Why Women Have Abortion: Personal Choice (60%), Fuck Off (22%), Not Your Concern (10%), Mind Your Business (8%).”

Speech at the Glastonbury Music Festival

In June 2022, Thunberg showed up at England’s annual Glastonbury Music Festival to lecture middle-class concertgoers about the perils of climate change. “The biosphere is not just changing, it is destabilising, it is breaking down,” she claimed, before saying that “this is not the new normal.” “Today our political leaders are allowed to say one thing and do the exact opposite,” added Thunberg. “They can claim to be climate leaders, while at the same time expand their nation’s fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Condemning Capitalism As an Evil System

During an appearance at the London Literary Festival in November 2022, Thunberg called for an end to the West’s free-market capitalist system, which she described as “a system defined by colonialism, imperialism, oppression and genocide by the so-called global North to accumulate wealth that still shapes our current world order.” Claiming that capitalism’s “failure” had caused a global “climate breakdown” that could only be countered by a radical revolution led by activists dedicated to a “system-wide transformation,” Thunberg added: “We are never going back to normal again because ‘normal’ was already a crisis. What we refer to as normal is an extreme system built on the exploitation of people and the planet.” She further declared: “If economic growth is our only priority, then what we are experiencing now should be exactly what we should be expecting.”

The Climate Book: The Facts and the Solutions

In February 2023, Thunberg published The Climate Book: The Facts and the Solutions, a collection of essays contributed by more than 100 academicians, authors, environmentalists, journalists, and activists. In her own personal contribution to the book, Thunberg wrote: “The Industrial Revolution, fueled by slavery and colonization, brought unimaginable wealth to the Global North, and in particular to a small group of people there. That extreme injustice is the foundation our modern societies are built on.” In a separate excerpt, she said:

“The destruction of the biosphere, the destabilization of the climate and the wrecking of our common future living conditions are in no way predestined or unavoidable. Nor is human nature – we are not the problem. This is all happening because we, the people, haven’t yet been made fully aware of our situation, or of the consequences of what is about to happen. We have been lied to. We have been deprived of our rights as democratic citizens and left unaware. This is one of our biggest problems, but it is also our greatest source of hope – because humans are not evil, and once we understand the nature of the crisis we will surely act. Given the right circumstances, there are no limits to what we can do…. There is still time to undo our mistakes, to step back from the edge of the cliff and choose a new path, a sustainable path, a just path. A path which leads to a future for everyone. Not just for those who think their money can buy them a way of adapting to dying ecosystems and mass extinctions. And no matter how dark things may become, giving up will never be an option. Because every fraction of a degree and every tonne of carbon dioxide will always matter.”

Nobel Peace Prize Nominations

In February 2023, it was announced that Thunberg, for the fourth consecutive year, had been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Arrested at Protest against  a Wind-Turbine Project

On March 1, 2023,  Thunberg and a crowd of fellow activists gathered outside the Norwegian finance ministry to protest against the proposed construction of a large a wind-turbine project. “Although often on the side of the green agenda activists,” reported Breitbart.com, “Thunberg has this time decided to resist the building of the massive wind farm in Norway’s northern region due to fear it will interfere with the way of life of the Sami, an ethnic minority that lives in Europe’s [A]rctic regions.” During the course of the demonstrations that day, Thunberg was arrested by police.

Honorary Doctorate Degree

On March 22, 2023, the Washington Examiner reported: “Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg will be conferred with an honorary doctorate degree from the theology faculty at a Finnish university this summer. The 20-year-old vocal opponent of fossil fuels will receive the doctorate at a ceremony on June 9. Professor Martti Nissinen, in the faculty of theology at the University of Helsinki, will be the conferrer. […] ‘By choosing Greta as an honorary doctor, we declare that we want to be as bold and influential as she is,’ the professor reportedly said in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat.”

 | 
© Copyright 2023, DiscoverTheNetworks.org