The Greta Thunberg Effect
Updated: Dec 6, 2019
By: Rebecca Brando, September 25, 2019
Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish environmental climate activist, has emerged as the new face of the environmentalist movement and a global icon. On Monday, Thunberg gave an impactful speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, criticizing world leaders for their lack of action on the climate crisis. The young activist arrived in the United States in late August (2019) on a zero-emissions sailboat to avoid high levels of emissions from air travel. Her video went viral across all social media platforms.
Video courtesy of Greta Thunberg Instagram
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she said. “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.”
Who Is This Super Swede?
Greta Thunberg’s story begins in Stockholm, Sweden. Her family includes; Her mother, Malena Ernman, an opera singer and actress; Greta’s father, Svante Thunberg is an author, actor, and producer, best known for his role in a Swedish television drama series, Skärgårdsdoktorn, which ended in 2000; And her 13-year-old sister, Beata Thunberg, her only sibling. Greta, along with her family, have been open about her diagnosis of Asperger’s, calling it a “superpower” that helps her activism.
According to the Children vs. Climate Crisis website; Thunberg’s interest in the environment had sparked at the young age of eight years old after watching a documentary called Climate Change. The experience terrified her, by age 11, Greta began researching climate science and attending environmental demonstrations and rallies. At home, the Thunberg family adopted several lifestyle choices to reduce their own carbon footprint, including abstaining from meat and giving up air travel thus her fancy sailboat.
In August 2018, at age fifteen, Greta skipped school to protest outside the Swedish Parliament, calling for stronger climate action. She handed out fliers along with a list of facts about the climate crisis. The aftermath of her protest resulted in a global movement under the name, “Fridays for Future;” a campaign asking to shift the larger responsibility of global climate change from individuals and communities to government entities and major corporations who stand to grow economically by not implementing drastic changes needed to save the environment.
Greta’s inspiring and persuasive speeches have been increasingly influential in recruiting millions of young adolescents and teens to join her Fridays for Future movement with coordinated school strikes in multi-cities across the globe. Her movement has impressed many but not all. There are many of those that feel disconcerted with Greta’s sudden rise to leadership at the forefront of the environmental movement. Some view her as an indoctrinated child whose youth is being exploited by adults to make their political arguments.
While she has been scrutinized by critics, the data and science speak for themselves. The media have described Thunberg’s worldwide impact as the “Greta Thunberg Effect” and her fame continues to grow. In March 2019, Greta was nominated for the US Nobel Peace Prize, which will be awarded, October 2019. In May 2019, she graced the cover of TIME Magazine and featured in a VICE documentary titled; Make the World Greta Again. From giving TED Talks; to delivering powerful speeches at the U.N. Climate Action Summit and leading global strikes, there is no stopping Greta Thunberg.