above >thunberg skipping school in august 2018, sitting in front of swedish parliament to demand climate action / michael campanella—getty images
starting in august 2018, a swedish 15-year-old greta thunberg began a global movement by skipping school. she did so by setting up shop in front of the swedish parliament holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read skolstrejk för klimatet: “school strike for climate.” her question for adults, for people in charge: if you don’t care about my future on earth, why should i care about my future in school?
by now you know the time magazine 2019 person of the year is greta thunberg. the runners up were: hong kong protesters (won the readers poll), nancy pelosi, donald trump, the whistleblower in trump-ukraine scandal.
winning does come with controversy. but we won’t talk about that at this time. here.
on the first day of her climate strike, thunberg sat alone. she posted about her strike on social media, and a few journalists came by to talk to her, but she spent day one alone.
on day two a stranger joined her. “that was a big step, from one to two,” she recalls. “this is not about me striking; this is now us striking from school.” within a couple of days, a handful more joined in. then they became a group – from one person pushing back became two, then 10, then 50, then hundreds. then thousands
by september, enough people had joined her climate strike in stockholm that she announced she would continue every friday until sweden aligned with the paris agreement.
the fridays for future movement was born.
at the end of 2018, tens of thousands of students across europe began skipping school on fridays to protest their own leaders’ inaction. in january, 35,000 schoolchildren protested in belgium following thunberg’s example. the movement struck a chord. when a belgian environmental minister insulted the strikers, a public outcry forced her to resign.
a year later in september 2019, the climate strikes had spread beyond northern europe. in london, 100,000 swarmed the streets near westminster abbey. in new york city, 250,000 reportedly marched in battery park and outside city hall. in germany, a total of 1.4 million people took to the streets, with thousands flooding the brandenburg gate in berlin and marching in nearly 600 other cities and towns across the country.
on 20-27 september 2019, a global climate strike brought an estimated 4 million people of all ages to protest. their signs told a story. in london: the world is hotter than young leonardo dicaprio. in turkey: every disaster movie starts with a scientist being ignored. in new york: the dinosaurs thought they had time, too. hundreds carried images of thunberg or painted her quotes onto poster boards. make the world greta again became a rallying cry. the 20 september protests were likely the largest climate strikes in world history. more than 2,000 scientists in 40 countries pledged to support the strikes.
in a little more than a year, one frightened, angry, defiant 16-year-old, became a game-changer, became an icon who brought climate to the forefront. after noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at collins dictionary named thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year.
bravo greta !
greta is the z generation – ages 7 to 22. in 2050 she will be 46. in 2080 grandchildren will be 25. according to a december amnesty international survey, young people in 22 countries identified climate change as the most important issue facing the world. they know how much adults are failing them.
above> greta thunberg smiles during a press conference / lito lizana/sopa images/shutterstock
[ time person of the year ] the tradition of selecting a man of the year began in 1927, with time editors contemplating the news makers of the years. the idea was also an attempt to remedy the editorial embarrassment earlier that year of not having aviator charles lindbergh (see guinnes world records below) on its cover following his historic trans-atlantic flight. by the end of the year, it was decided that a cover story featuring lindbergh as the man of the year would serve both purposes.
in 1999, the title was changed to person of the year. since the list began, every serving president of the united states has been a man or person of the year at least once with the exceptions of calvin coolidge, herbert hoover, and gerald ford.
record-breaking american aviator charles lindbergh became the first person to be named time man of the year in 1927[ guinness world records ] thunberg takes the crown of youngest time person of the year from us aviator charles lindbergh (1902–74). he received the accolade at the age of 25 years 332 days as of the 2 jan 1928 issue.
[ quotables ]
“we can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow, that is all we are saying.” – greta
“i want you to panic, i want you to feel the fear i feel every day. and then i want you to act.” – greta to the annual convention of ceos and world leaders at the world economic forum in davos, switzerland, in january.
“people are underestimating the force of angry kids. we are angry and frustrated, and that is because of good reason. if they want us to stop being angry then maybe they should stop making us angry.” – greta
“for sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, greta thunberg is time’s 2019 ‘person of the year.” – time’s editor-in-chief edward felsenthal penned a column explaining the choice.
brilliant decision for @time to choose @gretathunberg as its person of the year. greta embodies the moral authority of the youth activist movement demanding that we act immediately to solve the climate crisis. she is an inspiration to me and to people across the world. – @algore
“don’t let anyone dim your light, like the girls i’ve met in vietnam and all over the world, you have so much to offer us all.” – the former first lady michelle obama wrote on twitter
“so ridiculous,” “greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! chill greta, chill!” ~ donald j. trump
“a teenager working on her anger management problem. currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.” – greta’s twitter bio in response to potus tweet
@gretathunberg @time @greenpeaceusa #climatestrike #fridaysforfuture #parentsforfuture #climate #climatechange