Greta Thunberg: Interesting facts about the climate activist

December 11, 2019 | Environment
Greta Thunberg: one of the most influential climate activists on planet Earth | Photo: Hellberg/Creative Commons

Whether you like her or not, she is one of the most influential environmental campaigners of the 21st century. Here's everything you should know about Greta Thunberg.

In less than 12 months, a minor Swedish teenage girl became a major worldwide influencer.

Thunberg started the most significant global environmental movement of the decade 2010-2019 and lobbied for the fight against climate change and its potentially disastrous consequences.

She attacked politicians and the business word and challenged children and adults, teenagers, and older people to change their daily habits to protect planet Earth.

Today, Greta Thunberg is simultaneously a heroine, an icon, a role model, and an idol. Still, she is also seen and depicted as a media darling, and a product of green business interests.

However, there's one thing we can't deny - the young eco-warrior is making change happen and leaves no one indifferent.

Take a look at the most interesting personal facts about the Swedish youth environmentalist, Greta Thunberg:

Fridays for Future: on 15 March, 2019, the school strike for the climate gathered more than one million participants worldwide | Photo: Farys/Creative Commons

The Personal Profile

1. The activist's full name is Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg;

2. Greta Thunberg was born on January 3, 2003, in Stockholm, Sweden;

3. She has a sister named Beata Thunberg;

4. Greta's mother - Sara Magdalena Ernman - is a Swedish opera singer;

5. Her father - Svante Thunberg - is a Swedish actor, and is named after Svante Arrhenius, the Nobel prize-winning scientist who first calculated how carbon dioxide (CO2 ) could lead to the greenhouse effect;

6. In August 2014, when Greta Thunberg was only 11, she suddenly stopped eating, talking, reading, or wanting to do anything;

7. The Swedish activist was later diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and selective mutism;

8. Greta Thunberg does not view her Asperger syndrome as an illness - instead, she calls it her "superpower";

9. The Swedish has two dogs - Roxy and Moses;

10. Thunberg loves to read, hanging with her family and go for a walk;

Greta Thunberg: her speeches are both inspiring and emotional | Photo: Creative Commons

The Activist Career

1. Greta Thunberg started her activist journey in August 2018, aged 15, when she began spending time outside the Swedish parliament holding up a sign - "Skolstrejk för Klimatet" ("School Strike for the Climate");

2. The young Swedish activist said she first heard about climate change in 2011 when she was only eight years old;

3. Because of the strike, Greta missed around three weeks of school until she eventually got the attention of the Swedish Parliament. This ultimately led to the start of a global movement;

4. She is one of the leading voices of Fridays for Future (FFF), a global international movement of school students who miss school to participate in demonstrations that aim to raise awareness and demand action to halt and prevent climate change and global warming;

Skolstrejk för Klimatet: Greta Thunberg proposes a School Strike for the Climate | Photo: Hellberg/Creative Commons

5. The hashtags #fridaysforfuture and #climatestrike became worldwide symbols of Thunberg's popular campaign;

6. The first global strike took place on March 15, 2019, and gathered around 1.4 million participants;

7. Greta has named Rosa Parks, the civil rights activist, as one of her greatest inspirations. In the 1950s, Rosa sparked a civil rights movement that improved the lives and treatment of millions of African Americans;

8. Greta was able to convince her mother to give up her international opera career due to the environmental impact of aviation, and to stop eating meat;

9. Since she became an environmental activist, Greta's parents have become vegan, started upcycling, and gave up flying;

10. In May 2019, Time featured the Swedish teenager on the cover of the magazine and named her one of the 100 most influential people of 2019;

11. Thunberg is a supporter of Extinction Rebellion, the nonviolent, environmental, civil disobedience movement co-founded in May 2019 by Roger Hallam and Gail Bradbrook;

Extinction Rebellion: Greta Thunberg supports the nonviolent, environmental, civil disobedience movement | Photo: Thunberg Archive

12. Greta Thunberg decided to take a sabbatical year - 2018/2019 - from school to focus on her environmental cause;

13. She revealed that her teachers in Sweden are divided in their views about her missing classes to stand for her campaign;

14. Thunberg did a voiceover for The 1975' song "The 1975," in which you can hear her saying: "So, everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel";

15. In June 2019, Swedish Railways announced that the number of Swedes taking the train for domestic journeys had risen eight perfect compared to the same period in the previous year;

16. Apparently, the so-called "Greta Effect" was not only inspiring her school-aged peers but also adults who started feeling ashamed or embarrassed to take a plane;

17. The phenomenon created an internet buzz which resulted in new and highly popular hashtags like #flygskam #jagstannarpåmarken #istayontheground and #istandwithgreta;

Greta Thunberg: the Swedish climate activist founded Fridays for Future in 2018 | Photo: Hellberg/Creative Commons

18. Thunberg refuses to fly to international conferences. She wants to raise awareness for the impacts of flights in CO2 emissions;

19. In August 2019, Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Plymouth, United Kingdom, to New York, United States, in a 60-foot, solar-powered yacht equipped with underwater turbines. The voyage took 15 days;

20. On September 23, 2019, at the 2019 United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit, Greta delivered one of the most emotional and intense speeches of her career as an activist. She stated: "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. [...] How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. [...] We are at the beginning of mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth! How dare you!";

21. Following her speech, US President Donald Trump tweeted: "She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future";

22. In late September 2019, musician and recording engineer John "Mollusk" Meredith adapted Thunberg's passionate 2019 UN speech into a death metal;

23. On November 13, 2019, Greta Thunberg sailed back to Europe aboard "La Vagabonde," a 48-foot catamaran owned by two Australian YouTubers - Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu - and their 11-month-old son, Lenny. They set sail from Hampton, Virginia, and arrived 21 days later in Lisbon, Portugal;

24. The Swedish environmental campaigner participated in the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 25). She addressed the audience saying that "the real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening when, in fact, almost nothing is being done apart from clever accounting and creative PR";

25. Greta Thunberg is supported by a long list of celebrities and influential people including Leonardo di Caprio, Barack Obama, Billie Eilish, António Guterres, Janelle Monáe, Hillary Clinton, Chris Evans, Anne Hathaway, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Prince Harry, Mark Ruffalo, Kerry Washington, Camila Cabello, Robbie Williams, Justin Trudeau, Chris Hemsworth, Naomi Klein, Michael Gove, Trevor Neilson, Olly Alexander, Cara Delevingne, Joe Jonas, Jordin Sparks, and many more;

26. On the other hand, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Jair Bolsonaro, Michael Knowles, Dinesh D'Souza, Arron Banks, Cathy Young, Benny Johnson, Bjørn Lomborg, Jeremy Clarkson, and Andrej Babis mocked and criticized Thunberg's speeches and actions;

27. In October 2019, American wet plate photographer Shane Balkowitsch shot Greta Thunberg at a Native American reservation in North Dakota. The picture named "Standing For Us All" has already been archived at the Library of Congress, in Washington;

Standing For Us All: the Greta Thunberg wet plate shot by Shane Balkowitsch has been archived at the Library of Congress | Photo: Shane Balkowitsch

28. The story of Greta Thunberg and her family can be read in the book "Scenes from the Heart";

29. "Make the World Greta Again" is a documentary by Vice which follows the Swedish activist's footsteps toward the largest climate strike of all time held on March 15, 2019, across more than 125 countries;

30. Argentine artist Andres Petreselli painted a giant mural featuring Greta Thunberg on the wall of a building in Union Square, San Francisco;

Greta Thunberg: the mural painted by Andres Petreselli in San Francisco's Union Square

31. The Natural History Museum, in London, announced that a minute species of beetle was named "Nelloptodes gretae" in honor of the young Swedish activist;

32. "No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference" is the name of a collection of 11 speeches about climate crisis and global warming written by Greta Thunberg;

33. Greta Thunberg is an easy target for addicted meme makers. Her "How dare you!" speech and the relationship between the Swede and the US President are among the most popular and shared ones;

34. Greta Thunberg has been named Time's Person of the Year 2019;

35. In January 2020, the activist spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Thunberg urged world leaders and participants from companies, governments, banks, and institutions to immediately stop all investments in fossil fuel extraction and exploration, end fossil fuel subsidies, and completely divest from fossil fuels;

Time Magazine: Greta Thunberg is the Person of the Year 2019 | Photo: Time

35. The Swedish activist hasn't got an official website. However, she manages three official social media accounts at Facebook (@gretathunbergsweden), Instagram (@gretathunberg) and Twitter (@gretathunberg);

36. Greta Thunberg's most famous quotes are:

"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."

"The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say - we will never forgive you."

"I want you to act as if the house is on fire because it is."

"We deserve a safe future. And we demand a safe future. Is that really too much to ask?"

"I think it is insane that people are gathered here to talk about the climate, and they arrive here in private jets."

"We showed that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable."

"Change is coming, whether you like it or not."

"Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling."

"When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you're winning! I have Asperger's syndrome, and that means I'm sometimes a bit different from the norm. And - given the right circumstances - being different is a superpower."

"I'd like to tell my grandchildren that we did everything we could. And we did it for them - for the generations to come."

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