NEW YORK, N.Y. (FNN NEWS) – TIME’s Person of the Year is usually synonymous historically with people with a lengthy presence in the world and equal influence. However, this 92-year-old franchise has taken a turn from their own tradition by recognizing 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg as its 2019 Person of the Year.
While many other teenagers are learning to drive or going on their first date or getting ready to enter high school, Greta has taken on the most challenging cause to date: the fight against climate change.
She was only eight years old when she first learned about climate change, or “global warming,” and even at that age, found it alarming that government officials were not taking it as seriously as they should. She decided to take action by way of solitary protest in front of Stockholm’s Parliament and, like wildfire, she was joined by thousands when she garnered media attention and encouraged others to follow suit.
Since that first courageous leap of action, she has met with high-powered officials and clergy (presidents, the United Nations, the Pope) and continues her fight to bring awareness, not just to the problem of global warming but to the inactions of our leaders in government. After all, our governments have the power to invoke change and hold accountable all corporations and industries that are not working towards a sustainable future that will allow us to reduce our carbon footprint, thereby slowing the rapid progression of climate change and giving hope to the future generations for better atmospheric conditions.
Adults usually dole out scolding to kids, but the roles were reversed when Greta spoke before the U.N. General Assembly. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth…how dare you?”
All that she has said and done to encourage the youth to action is incredible. But what is most phenomenal is that Greta has Asperger’s syndrome. A person diagnosed with Asperger’s does not process nor is led by emotions the way most people do and would have an all-absorbing interest in a particular subject matter. She does not have the luxury of being dismissive of what is a global epidemic, nor can she stand by and accept the complacency in which global warming has been addressed.
Greta is proof of the adage that “one person can make a difference” no matter how small the change or how young the individual.
Kareen Kennedy is Entertainment and Business Associate Editor for Florida National News contributor. | firstname.lastname@example.org