Honors pale compared to the task that lies ahead, but the Accolades are well Deserved
Greta Thunberg, the hugely influential sixteen-year-old climate activist from Sweden, was recently named Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year. Just a teenager, Thunberg holds the honor of being the youngest recipient of the title in history.
The Time magazine Person of the Year is a tradition that dates all the way back to 1927, when Charles Lindberg earned the prestigious title for being the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic. Over the past ninety-two years, the honor has been given to influential people such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. On a more controversial side of history, the award has also gone to infamous people such as Hitler in 1938, Stalin in 1939 and 1942, and Donald Trump in 2016.
Thunberg, however, is given the honor for her work in influencing others to take on earth’s greatest challenge. Ever since dropping out of school in 2018, she has traveled the world, spreading messages of action and determination regarding climate change. Her dedication to making the world a sustainable place is unparalleled and she has inspired many people with her unapologetic and honest way of addressing the issue head on.
Greta’s accomplishments are all the more impressive given her age, gender, and conditions. A teenaged girl with Aspergers Syndrome, anautism spectrum disorder is not typically the kind of person that Time magazine selects for Person of the Year. Before Thunberg, the youngest Person of the Year was twenty-five years old, and before the turn of the millennium, only four women had ever received the honor. Nevertheless, Greta earned the title on merit, and her recognition is further inspiration for more young women to stand up against tyranny and aspire to great things.
Coinciding with COP 25 Greta Continued on only paused Briefly to Acknowledge the Award
In typical Greta Thunberg fashion, though, she did not gloat or really even celebrate the honor. Steadfast on overlooking symbolic recognition and focusing on tangible change, Thunberg spent the week addressing the UN Climate Conference in Madrid.
As Greta does when meeting with world leaders, she spoke to the UN with the uncompromising sincerity, calling out politicians for considering money over the environment and creating egregious loopholes in order to surpass climate accountability. She called the current pledges in place “misleading,” and deemed that good intentions are not enough; it takes long-term and persistent commitment to save the planet.
Coincidentally, shortly after Thunberg finished her moving speech, over two-hundred activists were removed from the conference. Loudly chanting their beliefs and frustrations for several minutes, the protestors were eventually forced out of the building by security.
Many of the protestors came from the organization Greenpeace, which Thunberg has worked with in the past. Among those removed from the building was Greenpeace leader Jennifer Morgan, who commented on the stark divide between what is going on inside the conference and what is going on outside, implying that the politician’s have a severe detachment from the citizens’ world.
Morgan’s insight is not a good sign, especially considering that the UN Climate Conference is dependent on unity and understanding across borders. However, if there is already a border separating the conference from the rest of the world, then it puts the entire meeting in jeopardy.
Spending the final weeks of a tumultuous year at home in Sweden, there is no doubt that in 2020 she will once again be in the headlines continuing her quest to raise awareness and help us all to face our greatest challenge head on, with open eyes and, hopefully, open minds.
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