Now Greta Thunberg Is An Adult, Her Trolls Should Start Listening
She was catapulted into the spotlight at the tender age of 15, when she skipped school to protest for stronger action against climate change outside the Swedish Parliament.
Since then, Greta Thunberg has stood up against world leaders, become a global figurehead in the fight to protect the environment – and triggered people all over the world in the process.
The activist – who turned 18 years old today – has been the subject of cruel online hate campaigns from trolls who have dismissed her because of her age, and the fact she has Asperger’s syndrome.
Vile trolls even created stickers that portrayed a cartoon figure labelled ‘Greta’ being sexually assaulted; which the then 17-year-old said showed climate change deniers were getting ‘desperate’.
‘This shows we’re winning,’ she wrote on Twitter.
While people have tried desperately to discredit her because of her Asperger’s syndrome, Greta has said her ‘different’ mindset has been crucial in raising awareness about climate change, because she doesn’t feel pressured or limited by social norms that might prevent others from speaking out against world leaders.
‘To get out of this climate crisis, we need a different mindset from the one that got us into it,’ she told the Guardian in October last year.
‘People like me – who have Asperger’s syndrome and autism, who don’t follow social codes – we are not stuck in this social game of avoiding important issues.’
We dare to ask difficult questions. It helps us see through the static while everyone else seems to be content to role-play.
But, the main thing that comes up over and over – predominantly in the realms of middle-aged male Twitter, or in the comments section of tabloids – is all about a number.
Despite showing more bravery than most twice her age and being wise beyond her years, climate change deniers have tried endlessly to dismiss her based on the fact she’s a ‘child’ – what could a child possibly know about climate change that adults couldn’t?
Reports began referring to the teen as an ‘environmental messiah’, and it wasn’t long before tabloid headlines began questioning whether she was a ‘prophet or a puppet’, implying that she hadn’t put herself at the forefront of the climate crisis by her own free will.
Michael Knowles, a right-wing political commentator on Fox News, even described Thunberg as ‘a mentally ill Swedish child’ who was ‘being exploited by her parents and the international left’.
Well, almost three years later, Greta has firmly cemented her position on the world stage, marking herself as the leader of a generation of climate change activists determined to make a change.
Today, the Swedish native turned 18 years of age. She’s arguably no more intelligent or credible than she was yesterday, or even the day before. And yet, if we’re to go by what the trolls have been saying for the past couple of years, we really ought to take her seriously, now that she is, in fact, an adult.
In the past two and a half years, Greta has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice, been named Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year, addressed world leaders at the UN Summit, all while fending off trolls with quick wit on Twitter.
In an article written by Thunberg and fellow activists Luisa Neubauer, Anuna De Wever and Adélaïde Charlier, the teen said that since her one-woman protest in Sweden, ‘many millions have taken to the streets to join the decades-long fight for climate and environmental justice’.
However, instead of sitting around feeling pleased with their efforts, Greta, Luisa, Anuna and Adélaïde pointed out that this is only the beginning of the fight.
‘But over these past two years, the world has also emitted more than 80 gigatonnes of CO2. We have seen continuous natural disasters taking place across the globe: wildfires, heatwaves, flooding, hurricanes, storms, thawing of permafrost and collapsing of glaciers and whole ecosystems,’ they wrote in the Guardian.
‘Many lives and livelihoods have been lost. And this is only the very beginning.’
Most recently, Thunberg has spoken out about how we need to ‘change the social narrative’ around climate change, by stopping talking about ‘future, distant hypothetical goals and targets’ so that we can ‘start focusing on what we need to do’.
‘We don’t want to solve these problems for you; we want you to take care of it right now, because you are destroying our futures right now,’ she said during an interview with CNN, where she explained that world leaders must ‘start treating the climate crisis like a crisis’.
Greta might be young, but she is mighty, and what she stands for trascends the importance of age. Now, she is officially an adult, and while climate deniers will continue to do everything in their power to discredit her, I have no doubt that her powerful influence will continue to grow.
It’s time for the trolls to sit up and take note. Happy birthday, Greta.
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