Teen Climate Change Activist Greta Thunberg Is Time's Youngest Ever "Person Of The Year"

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16-year-old Greta Thunberg is Time Magazine's youngest-ever "Person of the Year" (Credit: Photo: Time/Screengrab)

Time Inc.'s "Person of the Year" tradition began in 1927, when the magazine commemorated 25-year-old aviator Charles Lindbergh for the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Though the media franchise has since recognized several young people for their global influence, it has never given the important distinction to a teenager. But then again, few teens are as passionate about their mission as 2019's "Person of The Year"— 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

Thunberg's rise to global prominence is even more stunning given that just over a year ago, she was a shy 15-year-old fretting about the looming threat of climate change. In August 2018, tired of the “refusal” of world leaders to take action, the young girl started camping out in front of the Swedish Parliament every Friday with a sign that said: “School Strike for Climate."

Thunberg has inspired thousands of kids worldwide to demand lawmakers take action to reverse climate change (Credit: Time)

The teen's singular act of protest soon went viral, inspiring kids and adults worldwide to take action. By September 2018, her weekly strike became a global climate change movement called “Fridays for the Future," with tens of thousands of students skipping school on this day to protest the inaction of the leaders of their respective countries.

Her rally cry for progress also encouraged other young activists to begin their own climate change movements. They include 17-year-old Xiye Bastida in New York City, USA; 19-year-old Artemisa Xakriaba in Brasilia, Brazil; 17-year-old Vidit Baya in Udaipur, India; 16-year-old Howey Ou in Guilin, China, and many more. Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the US youth-led Sunrise Movement, says Thunberg "symbolizes the agony, the frustration, the desperation, the anger—at some level, the hope—of many young people who won't even be of age to vote by the time their futures are doomed."

Thunberg believes we can all take action to reverse climate change (Credit: Lëa-Kim Châteauneuf /CC BY-SA 4.0 /creativecommons.org)

The teenager, who has single-handedly helped bring climate change to the forefront of the global conversation, attributes her success to her Asperger’s syndrome. She says, “I see the world in black and white, and I don’t like compromising… If I were like everyone else, I would have continued on and not seen this crisis.”

Though Thunberg does not have a magical antidote for reversing climate change, she believes change can be affected at a grassroots level — by educating friends, being more selective about the companies you buy from, and electing officials that support the cause. In her address at the recently-held UN Climate Conference in Madrid, Spain, the young activist said, “In just three weeks, we will enter a new decade―a decade that will define our future. Right now, we are desperate for any sign of hope. Well, I’m telling you there is hope. I’ve seen it, but it does not come from the governments or corporations. It comes from the people.”

Resources: Time.com, CNN.com, Wired.com,USAtoday.com

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163 Comments
  • leiker1414
    leiker1414Saturday, July 4, 2020 at 5:14 pm
    I love her she is my idol. That takes confidence, and guts to go up on the stage and talk about how we can change global warming and stuff like that. I can't even stand up to my class that's how much of a wimp I am. Follow if u agree.
    • animereina2020
      animereina2020Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 1:02 pm
      You aren't a wimp. I think you are great just the way you are! No one is going to be good at everything, and no one is perfect. That is what makes us human. Don't say things like that to yourself. If you be kind to yourself and believe, than you can achieve!
      • coolvae
        coolvaeWednesday, August 19, 2020 at 9:37 am
        I love what she said.
    • ynooj
      ynoojWednesday, July 1, 2020 at 8:19 pm
      She is so brave!
      • mhkgc235
        mhkgc235Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 6:33 am
        That's amazing!! Love Greta!!
        • effie302
          effie302Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 12:16 pm
          I dont understand what is this supposed to be about!!!!!
          • stoppollution
            stoppollutionTuesday, October 20, 2020 at 9:46 am
            well, this is an article about Greta Thunberg, and her fight to save our earth from plastic pollution and climate change. Why they bring up china is because they are one of the most polluted countries. If Greta gets her word heard and spread across the world enough, she might be able to save children's futures, by providing a normal temp climate.
          • galaxystars123
            galaxystars123Sunday, May 10, 2020 at 8:34 pm
            GOOD 4 HER🙌👏👍💞
            • meisdancer
              meisdancerSunday, May 10, 2020 at 5:35 pm
              WOW that girls got GUTS I can barely talk in front of the class she can talk in front of a crowd of people! That to me is super duper cool please follow if you agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
              • effie302
                effie302Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 12:17 pm
                I have major anxiety about standing in front of big crowds, let alone standing in front of my class, (im a wimp)........ *crying internally*......
                • laynebot5
                  laynebot5Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 1:00 pm
                  Me too
                  • ahelpfulhand
                    ahelpfulhandTuesday, August 18, 2020 at 7:47 am
                    You aren't a wimp. If you put yourself down, you won't have the confidence to move forward. I have major stage fright as well, but it isn't that much of a burden once you get into the flow of things. You are special to many people who know you, so don't get down because you have some kind of personal thing like stage fright. If you believe in yourself, you can do many things.
                • leiker1414
                  leiker1414Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 8:29 am
                  GRETA GRETA GRETA GRETA GRETA GRETA GRETA GRETA GRETA( raising my voice) !!
                  • leiker1414
                    leiker1414Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 8:26 am
                    It takes confidences to do that
                    • queen_josie
                      queen_josieTuesday, April 28, 2020 at 7:54 am
                      cool follow me
                      • thebest777
                        thebest777Monday, April 27, 2020 at 5:53 am
                        Go EARTH but I don't think that I'm going to be saying Go Greta. :[
                        • thebest777
                          thebest777Monday, April 27, 2020 at 5:57 am
                          It's just me but I think anyone could do that it's not just Greta being like the big deal saving the earth. Well that's what I think
                          • stoppollution
                            stoppollutionTuesday, October 20, 2020 at 9:51 am
                            Anybody can do that. But for her being that young, voicing her opinion in front of millions of people and fighting for something good, that's amazing. In my opinion, its a huge deal that she's saving the earth- she's my idol. But I respect your opinion just as much as I respect Greta's.