Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg of Sweden has already carved out a place for herself in the history books, and she’s already being mentioned as a possible recpient of the Nobel Peace Prize in October. More of that later at the end of this blog post.
For now, she’s making waves worldwide with her speeches and her tweets, and recently the New York Times editors sent one of the newspaper’s top reporters over to Stockholm for an up close and personal profile of the 16-year-old “invisible girl who became a global climate activist.”
In fact, the article by reporter Somini Sengupta was headlined “Becoming Greta: ‘Invisible Girl’ to Global Climate Activist, With Bumps Along the Way” and is available online here.
Stating in the very first opening line of the article that that “it’s complicated being Greta,” Ms. Sengupta, who covers climate issues for the New York publication, described the teenage celebrity as being “small, shy, and a survivor of crippling depression” over the past few months ”shamed the world into addressing climate change.”
“It’s sometimes annoying when people say to me, ‘Oh you children, you young people are the hope. You will save the world’” Greta told the visiting reporter, after several grown-ups outside in Stockholm on a cold February day had told Greta just that. “I think it would be helpful if you could help us just a little bit.”
This kind of talk, the reported signaled, “is signature Greta. Wry. Blunt. Sometimes sarcastic. The opposite of sweet.”
Calling Greta ”a modern-day Cassandra for the age of climate change,” Sengupta said her climate protests and speeches have turned Greta into something of a global commodity.
“It has inspired huge children’s demonstrations elsewhere, prompted a debate about whether children should skip classes for climate action, and invited trolls, haters and skeptics who wonder who profits from Greta,” the newspaper wrote.
The last six months have been, Greta told the reporter, have been ”a weird contrast” to her earlier life when she did not have to meet the public and even talk a lot. But the past few months have compelled Greta to ”talk, talk a lot, which is something she is not accustomed to.”
“All my life I’ve been invisible, the invisible girl in the back who doesn’t say anything,” she told the Times. “From one day to another, people listen to me. That’s a weird contrast. It’s hard.”
Greta Thunberg, the Times states, ”is an unlikely, though not entirely accidental, activist.”
Noting that Greta today ”remains tiny for her age, a consequence of barely eating during her struggle with depression” earlier in her life. ”She doesn’t laugh much, or make small talk.”
“I only say what’s necessary,” Greta says.
She says she prefers the company of adults and animals to children of her own age as earlier episodes of school bullying and depression have taken a toll.
While Greta has now become an internationally-acclaimed orator with a gift for words and a voice that matches, she did say that one time when she confronted journalists lined up to interview her at Davos, she froze up for an instant and ”the words didn’t come.”
Fast forward to 2019 and these days, Greta thinks carefully about everything she does, she told the Times, from ”what she wears, what she says, whom she connects with on Facebook. She curates her social media carefully, posting a picture of herself riding back from Davos by train, which drew attention to the conference participants who had chartered private jets.”
Greta’s rise has not always been a rosy path. An investigation by the rightwing ”Svenska Dagbladet’ newspaper in Sweden said that Greta’s name and photograph had been used to raise money for a climate start-up investment company run by a family friend and Swedish PR maven Ingmar Rentzhog. Rentzhog confirmed that Greta’s name and photo had appeared in a financial prospectus for his start-up without her parent’s prior knowledge but he denied that her name had been used to raise money.
What’s next for Greta Thunberg? She is in her last semester of 9th grade and is weighing whether to take a year off to pursue her climate activism full time, the Times reported.
Meanwhile, there’s quiet talk about a possible Nobel Peace Prize for the Swedish teen. This blogger recently wrote a post applauding such a move, and you can catch up with our opinion here.