The Story of 16 Year Old Climate Activist Greta Thunberg

‘I promised myself I was going to do everything I could to make a difference’

“My classmates were concerned when they watched the film, but when it stopped, they started thinking about other things. I couldn’t do that. Those pictures were stuck in my head.”

She puts this down to having aspergers and selective mutism, both illnesses which can cause anxiety and overthinking. Most of us, like Greta’s classmates, can compartmentalise knowledge effectively. We learn of the atrocities of the animal agriculture industry, but we still go home and eat our usual dinner of chicken that evening. We learn that plastic pollution is clogging our oceans and destroying marine life, but we continue to buy bottled water. We learn that we are heading into a climate emergency, but we still opt to drive ourselves to work in the morning. For Greta it was different. After learning about global warming she couldn’t simply go back to normal, continue with her studies, and think about something else. It profoundly affected her.

“I kept thinking about it [climate change] and I just wondered if I am going to have a future.” [2]

She was so deep in her depression that she stopped attending school. Naturally, her parents were incredibly concerned. When they spoke to her about the depression, Greta opened up to them about her climate crisis worries. She gained a sense of release from talking about it. But more than that, she also saw her parents start to understand her concerns too. Greta had been eating a vegan diet for a while, but now her parents stopped eating meat too. Her mother’s career as an opera singer meant flying regularly across the world, but she stopped flying and chose instead to perform only in Stockholm.

“That’s when I kind of realised I could make a difference. And how I got out of that depression was that I thought: it is just a waste of time feeling this way because I can do so much good with my life.” [2]

She made a promise to herself to ‘do everything I could to make a difference.’ And she stuck to that promise. [3]

Screenshot from Svenska Dagbladet
Credit: Vivere Vegan

“Basically it means I only speak when I think it’s necessary. Now is one of those moments.”

She delivered the speech brilliantly, in fluent English. Many of the crowd filmed her, and the videos spread through social media. Now, she speaks regularly in front of crowds, politicians, and journalists.

School strike in Oxford, UK on February 15 2019

“It makes me see the world differently. I see through lies more easily. I don’t like compromising… To be different is not a weakness. It’s a strength in many ways, because you stand out from the crowd.”


[1] 1.6 million students across the globe demand climate action,, March 15 2019

Ramblings on communication and our climate crisis🌱

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