UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — It all started with a plot twist that is familiar to every parent in any generation in all corners of the globe without exception – an indignant teenager raised a riot.
Perhaps this was one of the most implausible and speedy take-offs to world fame. In just a year, a 16-year-old teenage girl from Stockholm went from a solitary picket on a cobblestone pavement near the Swedish parliament to the leader of the world youth movement, from conjugating French verbs to meeting with the UN Secretary General and audience from presidents and the Pope, from a lonely protests with a hand-drawn poster, “Strike for the Climate”, to multimillion-dollar demonstrations for the benefit of our common planet.
Large-scale changes rarely happen on their own, without directing the energy of the masterminds, and in 2019, the environmental movement found its leader in Greta Thunberg. Guiding the pan-European protests “Fridays for the Future” and throwing “How dare you!”
In the face of the most influential world leaders in her speech to the UN, Greta Thunberg became the face of climate protests – in September alone they gathered about seven million participants, and in December to them tens of thousands more joined in the loudest voice on the most pressing of the problems facing the planet. She is the personification of a generational change in our culture that happens everywhere – from the Hong Kong campuses to the congress building in Washington.
As Isabella Prata, the mother of two “climate strikers” from Sao Paulo, said, “Greta is the image of an entire generation.”
Thunberg requires action, and although too many of the key measures are still moving in the wrong direction, the first signs of future progress have appeared. More and more corporations are committed to sustainable growth and zero emissions. More than 60 countries have committed to zero carbon footprint by 2050.
US voters, especially in states affected by forest fires and floods, unexpectedly give presidential candidates thrashing for climate change. In the September elections in Austria, the Green Party more than tripled its support – at the expense of the Social Democrats, whose former leader attributed this phenomenon to Thunberg before resigning. Even though half of the world’s coal is still burned by China, it has begun to change: now China accounts for 45% of all electric vehicles and 99% of electric buses.
Thunberg stands on the shoulders of others – and side by side with them – these are hundreds of thousands of people who are building street barricades and doing science, many of which started long before her birth.
Greta was the first to admit that she became “one of the lucky ones” because of her privileged background in a crisis that disproportionately affects poor countries and indigenous peoples. But this year, the climate crisis came out of the wings and got into the spotlight, from the background political noise to the world agenda – and no one has done more than Thunberg for this.
It is high time: for the world to gain a chance to achieve the generally accepted goals of preventing global warming, emissions should fall next year by 7.6% – and decrease over the course of a decade. The Thunberg alarm is a necessary push. Whether we can offer a decent solution is up to us.
Thunberg is the youngest “man of the year” in the entire history of Time magazine, and this speaks not only of the moment, but of herself. The title, awarded for 92 years, is rooted in the theory of a great man, the notion that outstanding personalities form the world. Historically, it has been understood that people climb up the career ladder of large organizations and enter the sidelines of power. But at the moment when traditional institutions fail us, amid stunning inequality, social upheaval and political paralysis, we see new forms of influence.
These are people like Tunberg, leaders whose motives and ideals do not fit into their usual ideas, but they touch us more than any organization. Maybe they can’t do this in principle.
When she was eight and she first heard about global warming, Thunberg thought: “It cannot be, because our politicians will never allow this.” But she was wrong – and it was their idleness that prompted her to action. And now, young people around the world are opening our eyes to how fatal inaction is – from student protests on the streets of the Chilean capital of Santiago to young democracy supporters in Hong Kong and Florida school activists in Parkland, whose march against arms Tunberg, by his own admission, drew inspiration.
“I would like to tell our grandchildren that we did what we could,” said Thunberg in an interview with Time on the coast of Virginia in mid-November, preparing to cross the Atlantic in a sailing boat, “and we did it for them and for future generations.”
For the fact that she began to sound the alarm about the predatory attitude of mankind to her own home, for bringing a voice to the fragmented world that sounded across borders and borders, for showing us how the world will look when it is led by a new generation, Greta Thunberg is the Time Man of 2019.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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