Why Greta Thunberg Became Time’s 2019 Person of the Year

Teenagers are known for their ability to cause trouble. Greta Thunberg turned what some adults see as rebelliousness into greater climate change awareness, helping her to eventually earn the title of “Person of the Year” from Time magazine.

“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” she told the publication. “That is all we are saying.”

Not many teens skip school to start a global movement. Thunberg spent her days holding signs that said, “School Strike for Climate.” It took a little more than a year for her to take her cause to the United Nations. She’s met with the Pope, been treated harshly by the Presidents of the United States and Brazil, and her work has inspired over four million people to join a climate strike in September 2019.

Now her image appears in murals all over the world. Some people even compare Thunberg to Joan of Arc.

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That’s the approach that Thunberg takes with the environment. When other people start criticizing her, she puts the science of climate change as a response.


“I want you to panic,” she told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2019. “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day, and then I want you to act.”

What is even more remarkable about Thunberg is that she has a diagnosis on the Autism spectrum. She has Asperger’s syndrome, which means her emotional register is not the same as most of the people she meets.

If you were to have a conversation with Thunberg, it would be uncomplicated, direct, and informative. She ignores small talk to focus on the more significant issues. Her work isn’t about fame or fortune. It’s an effort to make people know that the world is changing, and something needs to be done now to prevent future suffering.