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

By

CCSS NCSS-9
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

Cite Article
Vocabulary List
activistaffectedantidotecommemoratedcompromisingdecadedistinctiondoomedencouragedforefrontfrustrationprominencerespectivesingularsolosymbolizesviral
130 Comments
  • hahahehebrah
    hahahehebrahWednesday, January 22, 2020 at 1:33 pm
    greta has a real career ahead of her
    • hahahehebrah
      hahahehebrahWednesday, January 22, 2020 at 1:32 pm
      wow. greta is the best
      • queenfrankie
        queenfrankieTuesday, January 21, 2020 at 5:41 pm
        Greta is the best. I love activism and it helps save the place we call home! 😊
        • sigepudy-156820586285
          sigepudy-156820586285Thursday, January 16, 2020 at 11:55 am
          she made a big diffrence!!!!
          • fighters4life
            fighters4lifeThursday, January 16, 2020 at 10:41 am
            GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO TEAMM GRETAAAAA
            • haha329260
              haha329260Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 11:38 am
              yasssss Greta!
              • c-beomgyu
                c-beomgyuWednesday, January 15, 2020 at 7:55 am
                such a big inspiration to our community. go greta!!
                • cooldogo
                  cooldogoMonday, January 13, 2020 at 8:48 am
                  I love her determination to just keep going
                  • raindrop07
                    raindrop07Friday, January 10, 2020 at 7:58 am
                    Go Greta! We need people like her on this Earth to help save it in the next 11 years!
                    • nyvamyho-156996918524
                      nyvamyho-156996918524Tuesday, January 7, 2020 at 11:41 am
                      This is so awesome! Our class is now putting up posters about climate change and taking action. GO GRETA!!!