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Profile: Greta Tunberg

16-year-old eco-activist with great ambitions in the fight against climate change, has received an ambiguous reputation in the media and the Internet.

Photo by Shannon Stapleton, Reuters

From September 20 to September 27, a week of climate protests takes place around the world. Residents of 150 countries took part in strikes in the framework of Global Climate Strike , and one and a half million people took part in the largest rally in Germany. Russian activists organized rallies and pickets in 20 cities.

All these actions are inspired by schoolgirl Greta Tunberg, who in August 2018 began to strike at the Swedish parliament, demanding compliance with the Paris climate agreement. Over the year, it has become the main symbol of eco-activism and the fight against climate change. Millions of people go out into the streets after her, and someone criticizes and accuses her of corruption.

Thunberg self-interested in ecology and accustomed parents to conscious consumption

Greta Tunberg was born in Sweden in 2003. Her parents – an actor and an opera singer – did not attach much importance to environmental problems and did not talk about this with Greta and her sister Beata. But they talked a lot about ecology at school, films were shown to children about ocean pollution, the dangers of plastic, the extinction of animals. So at eight, Thunberg first heard of climate change.

“I could not believe it,” said Greta, speaking at the TEDx conference, “After all, if this were true, we would not talk about anything else. On television, radio, in the newspapers they would only shout about it, as if there was a world war. ”

The girl decided to study the topic in more detail and was seriously carried away. She abandoned meat and unconscious consumption, and in 2015 she stopped flying on airplanes due to the carbon footprint they leave. At 11, Greta fell into a depression: she didn’t eat, didn’t talk, and she lost ten kilograms in two months. Passion for the environment, according to her words , helped to get out of this state.

Svante Thunberg and Malena Ernman, parents Greta Photo by Victor Gardsatera, GP

The first people Greta inspired for the changes were her parents. Following their daughter, they also became vegetarians and refused to fly. This affected the careers of mother Thunberg, the famous opera singer Malena Hernman, who can no longer actively tour. She had to change her occupation and start staging musicals. When Greta was asked if she felt this guilt, the activist replied : “Honestly, it makes no difference to me. The planet should be a priority for us all. ”

The Thunberg family has installed solar panels and independently grows vegetables in the countryside. They move on bicycles, in rare cases using an electric car.

Every Friday, Greta skips school to get the attention of the authorities. She is supported by students from other countries.

In May 2018, Thunberg wrote the essay “Sweden is not a role model,” in which she noted that even the most progressive countries are not doing enough to combat climate change: they do not make plans beyond 2050 and do not reduce emissions. With this article, Greta won the competition organized by the large Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

After the publication , eco-activist Boo Thoren contacted the girl . From him she learned about various forms of protest. Most of all, Greta was inspired by the example of American schoolchildren who staged a lying strike at the White House against the free carrying of weapons.

Getty Images Photos

On August 20, 2018, Greta Thunberg stood at the building of the Swedish parliament with the banner “School strike for climate”. Since then, every Friday she spent at the parliament, skipping classes. At first, no one agreed to go on strike with her, but on the second day, like-minded people joined her. The stocks were no longer held alone.

Tunberg’s key requirement is compliance with the Paris Agreement adopted by the UN in 2016. Participating countries should reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and not allow the average temperature on the planet to rise above 2 ° C in relation to the indicators of the pre-industrial era. But the fact that 195 countries have signed these obligations does not guarantee their fulfillment. The agreement does not prescribe sanctions in case the parties do not achieve the necessary indicators, and their own contribution to the achievement of the country’s goals is determined by themselves.

The world media began to write about the 15-year-old Greta, members of the Swedish parliament stopped on the way to work to talk to her. UN Secretary General Antoniu Guterres twice met with the activist and supported the strike: “My generation was unable to cope with dramatic climate changes. Young people feel it. No wonder they get angry. ” In November, Tunberg spoke at the Stockholm TEDx conference.

Some say I should be in school instead. Others – that I should go to study as a climatologist so that I can “solve the problem of the climate crisis.” But this problem has already been resolved. We already have all the facts and solutions.

All we need to do is wake up and change. And why should I study for a future that will soon be gone when no one is doing anything to save that future?

Greta Tunberg

From a performance at TEDx

With the advent of popularity, Greta became a regular guest of environmental forums and conferences. She still does not fly by plane, so she arrived by train on the Davos forum in January 2019 , and sailed on a sailing yacht at the September climate summit in New York .

First, the example of Tunberg was followed by schoolchildren who staged local strikes. But by September 2019, the Global Climate Strike campaign had become a truly global movement, covering more than 150 countries and four million people. The second name of the action is “Fridays for the future”, because it is on Fridays that Greta and her associates are on strike.

Thunberg has Asperger Syndrome, but she’s sure it helps her in the fight

As a child, Thunberg discovered Asperger Syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and selective mutism. People with these diagnoses have difficulty communicating. Their interests and activities are limited and repetitive. According to Greta, this means that she speaks only when it is really necessary, and divides the world into black and white: “There are no gray areas when it comes to survival. Either we continue to exist as a civilization or not. ”

Activist parents connect with Asperger syndrome its integrity and categorization. Unlike most people, she is not bored for years on the same topic. Having started to worry about something, she cannot be distracted.

With this, its straightforwardness may be associated. Thunberg writes quite harsh speeches in which he directly accuses those in whose hands power and money are concentrated. Sometimes her father asks her to change the tone of the speeches, but the girl is sure that the optimistic agenda of the “green” aggravates the problem: “If there is nothing good, should we spread false hope? It’s impossible, we are obliged to tell the truth. ”

You took away my dreams and my childhood with your idle talk. And I’m still lucky. People are suffering. People die. Entire ecosystems perish. We are on the verge of mass extinction, and you can only discuss money and tell tales of endless economic growth. How dare you!

[…]

You let us down. But young people are beginning to realize that you are betraying her. All future generations are looking at you. And if you deliberately betray us, here’s what I tell you: we will never forgive you.

Greta Tunberg

From a speech at the UN Climate Summit

Deliberately or not, Thunberg took up not only the promotion of eco-activism, but also the representation of people with autism spectrum disorders. She does not speak of herself as a patient, but emphasizes that her peculiarity has opened up new possibilities for her.

While some nominate Greta for the Nobel Prize, others do not believe in her sincerity

Swedish and Norwegian deputies nominated Thunberg for the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the struggle to save the environment. Amnesty International awarded her the title of Ambassador of Conscience, and in Sweden she was declared the Woman of the Year.

TIME magazine placed Greta on the cover and named her one of the 100 most influential people of 2019.

TIME Magazine Cover Photo by Helen Van Min


Despite the fact that Tunberg receives great support, many criticize her activities. Someone thinks that the environmental lobby promotes it for their own business interests. The Tunberg family is accused of receiving money from entrepreneurs or politicians. In social networks, Greta is bullied because of appearance and illness. Her speeches are called propaganda of radical views on the environmental situation. Belgian Minister Joke Chauvlege said that environmental political protests were led by certain political forces and condemned the strikes by schoolchildren, after which she was forced to resign.

After an emotional speech Greta at the UN summit, US President Donald Trump, who denies climate change and global warming, wrote on Twitter: “It looks like a very happy girl, who is looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. How nice to see that! ”Trump posted a video to the tweet, where the activist talks about suffering and dying people and dying ecosystems. In response, Thunberg temporarily changed her profile description to this quote.

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