Leave Greta Thunberg Alone


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Kaitlin Lee, Staff Writer

When Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swedish climate activist became 2019’s Person of the Year, I felt a strange innate pride for this young girl I’ve never met in person. As a fervent environmentalist myself, I’ve watched Thunberg’s rise to prominence through the news. I saw her as an inspiring person for being driven enough to not only bring the climate crisis in full view but also encouraging other youth leaders to lead marches and protests against the neglectful government.

However, even among other 17-year-olds, I’ve found a great number of disparaging comments about Thunberg. Beyond the “memefication” of Thunberg’s “How dare you!” speech, people have taken to ridiculing Thunberg instead of listening to her message. It ranges from small jokes making fun of her appearance to demeaning her as “some annoying Swedish girl” to even stating that she’s wasting her time to get out of school. Even political leaders, with all of their supposed wisdom and maturity, have mocked her for her age. Looking past the absolute disgusting nature of mocking a minor with Asperger’s, this is incredibly mean-spirited as well as undeserved.

Some people have stated that Thunberg has left less of an impact than scientists and other activists who have planted hundreds of trees or donated millions of dollars to help environmental organizations. However, we can’t ignore that Thunberg has left a great impact on the world. She’s inspired other teens to stand up for the environment, leading to countless marches, protests, and people changing their lifestyles to be more eco-friendly.

Not only that, but June 2019, a poll in Britain found that public concern about the environment had soared to record levels in the UK since Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion started working; in August 2019, publication and sales of children’s books about the climate crisis doubled compared to the previous year. Climate issues also played a significant role in the European Parliament election in May 2019 as Green parties gained more seats. This is part of what has been called “the Greta Effect,” a worldwide change in belief systems and lifestyles.

The environmental crisis is not hard to understand; there are high school classes like Advanced Placement Environmental Science that teach it in an understandable way. And it doesn’t take a genius to know that the planet is suffering because of our actions. In criticizing Thunberg, people are looking for a way to undercut the efforts of modern environmentalists. Climate change deniers don’t want to come to terms with the harsh reality that humans are devastating the Earth as the leading factor of climate change, so many resort to attacking Thunberg as a way to undermine climate activists.

Thunberg is a powerful force that must be listened to, or face the future she fears the most.


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