TIME Explains Why Greta Thunberg Is Its Person Of The Year 2019
Following ‘one of the most unlikely and surely one of the swiftest ascents to global influence in history’, Greta Thunberg is TIME’s Person of the Year.
2019 saw the 16-year-old storm the world’s headlines, criticising those in authority for failing to take action on climate change and striving to make a difference, whatever it takes.
From a humble protest outside the Swedish parliament to a worldwide marching phenomenon, the globe found its voice in Greta.
The magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal has since published an op-ed walking readers through its decision to pick the teen.
As per the TIME website, Felsenthal wrote:
Meaningful change rarely happens without the galvanizing force of influential individuals, and in 2019, the earth’s existential crisis found one in Greta Thunberg.
As Isabella Prata, the mother of two climate strikers in São Paulo, puts it, ‘Greta is an image of all of this generation’.
Felsenthal cited Thunberg’s numerous achievements, such as the Fridays for Future protests throughout Europe and leading seven million climate strikers earlier this year.
‘Thunberg has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet,’ he added, ‘and the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington.’
A few months ago, the 16-year-old rallied the internet’s support when she emotionally condemned the delegates at a UN conference.
In the speech, Thunberg told delegates:
This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you have come to us young people for hope. How dare you.
People are suffering. People are dying and dying ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is the money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.
For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.
Thunberg stands on the shoulders – and at the side – of hundreds of thousands of others who’ve been blockading the streets and settling the science, many of them since before she was born.
She is also the first to note that her privileged background makes her ‘one of the lucky ones’ as she puts it, in a crisis that disproportionately affects poor and indigenous communities.
But this was the year the climate crisis went from behind the curtain to center stage, from ambient political noise to squarely on the world’s agenda, and no one did more to make that happen than Thunberg.
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