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It has been over a year since Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg made headlines when she staged her first school strike for climate change outside the Stockholm parliament building. The young climate activist has now become a global environmental figurehead, spearheading the planetwide #FridaysForFuture movement with millions of students following her footsteps to demand climate action from governments, corporates and politicians. While her name features in countless headlines, how much do you really know about this incredible human? We’ve rounded up 5 factoids about Greta Thunberg, our ultimate #ecocrush and the person who inspires thousands to #bethechange every day!
1) Greta Cared About The Planet Way Before She Staged Her First Strike
Greta first learned about global warming at the age of 8 years old when she watched a documentary about climate change at school. Ever since she became acutely aware of the damage humans have done and are doing to the planet, she couldn’t stop thinking about climate change. By the time she was 11, she had become so desperately sad about the state of the earth that she temporarily stopped talking!
2) She Is Incredibly Open About Her Mental Health Struggles
Greta was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, OCD and selective mutism, which can cause anxiety, distress and overthinking. In an interview with The Guardian, she said: “I overthink. Some people can just let things go, but I can’t, especially if there’s something that worries me or makes me sad.”
But she has not this stop her from campaigning for change, and has used it as a positive force to help rally her followers forward and to encourage young people everywhere to be bold against adversity:
3) She Has Some Amazing One-Liners In Her Book
Greta is known for her bluntness, and she often comes out with lines that we wish we had come up with ourselves, or ones we might be thinking it, but weren’t brave enough to say out loud! For example, she told an audience of United States Congress members to “save your praise“, adding that they “haven’t tried hard enough. Sorry.“
Most recently, she made a damning speech at the UN Climate Action Summit where she proclaimed that world leaders have “stolen my dreams, my childhood with your empty words.” She continued, saying “right now is where we draw the line”.
4) She Is Now Friends With Former US President Obama
Last Tuesday, after she made an appearance at the US Congress upon arriving in New York via sailboat, Greta met up with former President Barack Obama. Obama was so impressed with Thunberg, he called her one of the “planet’s greatest advocates” and told the audience that the two of them represented a “team” to lobby for more environmental action.
5) She Is Responsible For The Surge In Climate-Themed Children’s Books!
Publishers have said that the number and sales of their books on environmental issues have spiked in recent months, and have attributed the surge to the iconic Swedish climate activist. Her influence has become so huge that it’s been dubbed the “Greta Thunberg Effect”!
6) Greta Is A Committed Vegan
She truly walks the talk when it comes to climate action. Aware of the carbon footprint associated with meat and animal-derived products, Greta is dedicated to only eating plant-based. She has even convinced her parents to adopt a vegan lifestyle, even though it was difficult at first!
In an interview with PBS News, Greta said she “made them feel so guilty. I kept telling them that they were stealing our future and they cannot stand up for human rights while living that lifestyle, so then they decided to make those changes. My dad is vegan, my mum, she tries – she’s 90% vegan.”
7) She Just Sued 5 Countries For Failing The Younger Generation
Yes, she just did that. Along with 15 of her climate activist colleagues aged 8 to 17, Greta has just lodged a legal complaint with the United Nations at the Climate Summit on Monday against Brazil, Germany, France, Argentina and Turkey. These 5 countries are not on track to meet their agreed carbon reduction goals under the Paris Agreement, and according to the teenage group, by doing so they are violating the rights of children. In a damning speech at the conference, Greta vowed to “not let [world leaders] get away with this.”
Watch her entire speech at the UN General Assembly:
Lead image courtesy of Jack Taylor / Getty Images.