Greta Thunberg has her own Wikipedia page and over one million Twitter followers. The young lady from Sweden turned just 16 years old in January, and in March, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
It was only a year ago this month she began her climate strike, staying out of school and protesting outside the Swedish Parliament to call attention to the world’s climate crisis. The same month Thunberg was nominated for the Nobel, word of her commitment to the mission encouraged 1.4 million students in over 120 countries to skip school and protest the lack of policies to slow down, and stop if possible, climate change.
Thunberg is now on a 60-foot racing sailboat, the Malizia II, with her father, a cameraman and two crew members on her way across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the Climate Action Summit in New York City in September. This mode of travel has the least emissions of greenhouse gases and therefore the least impact on the atmosphere. US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a champion of the Green New Deal, has promised to meet Greta when she docks and welcome her.
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Thunberg has attracted attention from more than the congresswoman and students. The captain of the sailboat, Boris Herrmann, was happy to offer her the vessel, which has solar panels and underwater turbines to produce electricity, after hearing her speak on her mission. Thunberg has spoken to the National Assembly in Paris, the European Union parliament, and the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos.
As is common in these days of social media, Thunberg has become a bit of a celebrity, which is a double-edged sword. “I think there is a lot of focus on me as an individual and not on the climate itself,” she told the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. “I think we should focus more on the climate issue, because this is not about me.”
Detractors have been brutal. This has included tweeted threats, such as “Freak yachting accidents do happen in August.”
Christopher Caldwell, a Greta supporter, wrote in the New York Times, “Kids her age have not seen much of life. Her worldview might be unrealistic, her priorities out of balance. But in our time, and in her cause, that seems to be a plus. People have had enough of balance and perspective. They want single-minded devotion to the task at hand.”—Marian Conway