Greta Thunberg takes on British mining company Beowulf
Greta Thunberg, along with Unesco, Sweden's national church, and the indigenous people of Sweden, are speaking out against British mining company Beowulf.
The British company plans to create an open-pit mine on historical Sami reindeer-herding lands, which they have lived on for thousands of years.
According to the Guardian, Beowulf has declared that it is "hopeful" that the Swedish government would decide and approve their request to open a five square mile iron-ore mine in the territory that pertains to one of Europe's Indigenous groups, the Sami.
It has yet to be seen what the Swedish government's decision will be, but in addition to young people such as Greta Thunberg protesting the UK company's proposal, the Sami parliament has written to the Swedish government.
The Guardian reported that the Sami Parliament had warned the Swedish government of the devastation that opening a mine would cause to animals and the environment in the area.
But who is this young woman that isn't afraid to speak up for what is right and has even faced formidable opponents such as Donald Trump?
Greta's preoccupation with climate collapse quickly captured the world's attention. Thunberg, now 19 years old, has spent her teenage years protesting to demand real and urgent measures for the survival of humanity.
Join us for a look at Greta Thunberg's story and how she became a world-recognized environmental activist.
Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg was born in Sweden on January 3, 2003. She has Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She currently lives in Stockholm, the country's capital.
Greta is the daughter of opera singer Malena Ernman and actor Svante Thunberg. In the photo, she poses, as a young child, with her younger sister, Beata Ernman Thunberg.
Greta's parents are, unsurprisingly, her biggest supporters. However, in an interview with The Guardian, her father, Svante Thunberg (pictured here with Greta), admits that in the beginning, they weren't changing their actions because they were environmentalists; they were doing so to help Greta. Her father said, "...we became aware and began to do stuff for the environment, but not because we wanted to save the environment; we did it to save our child.”
Greta's parents wanted to save their child because when she was just eleven years old, Greta fell into a deep depression, complete with selective mutism. It was during this time of crisis that Greta was diagnosed with autism. In the September 2021 interview with The Guardian, Greta spoke about the relief of receiving her diagnosis, “When I felt the most sad, I didn’t know that I had autism. I just thought, I don’t want to be like this. The diagnosis was almost only positive for me. It helped me get the support I needed and made me understand why I was like this.”
Pictured: Greta aged 8, photo: Instagram@gretathunberg
Greta is not ashamed to speak about her medical diagnosis. She considers her Asperger's diagnosis to be her “superpower.” On Twitter, she said, "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."
In September of 2021, in an interview with The Guardian, Greta expanded on why she considers her autism to be a superpower. “A lot of people with autism have a special interest that they can sit and do for an eternity without getting bored. It’s a very useful thing sometimes. Autism can be something that holds you back, but if you get to the right circumstance, if you are around the right people, if you get the adaptations that you need and you feel you have a purpose, then it can be something you can use for good. And I think that I’m doing that now.”
However, the real begining of Greta's road to internationally recognized activist began on August 20, 2018. When she was 15, Greta skipped school and went to the front of the Swedish parliament with a poster that read “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (School strike for climate).
From then on, the teenager started to go, every day, to the sidewalk of the Swedish parliament, until the general elections in the country, in September 2018. Other teenagers joined the cause that asked the government to lower carbon emissions.
When the Swedish elections ended, Greta started to protest, during school hours, only on Fridays, which prompted students from more than 270 cities around the world to do the same.
Greta Thunberg launched the 'Fridays For Future' movement to demand effective measures from governments to curb global warming and save the planet.
She has inspired protests in the streets from Brazil to Australia, several countries which she has personally visited.
Greta Thunberg gained a lot of notoriety after her speech at the UN Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in December 2018: “You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don't care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet."
Alongside biophysicist Jacques Dubochet, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Greta participated in the Smile For Future event, in Switzerland, in August 2019. About 450 young activists from various nationalities attended the conferences that discussed climate issues.
The teenager opened the meeting saying that the objective is to make people aware of the current environmental situation, but emphasizes: “It is a great responsibility that I and this movement (of students) should not have”.
The activist also participated in the World Economic Forum in February 2019, where she demanded measures from the politicians present. "We go on strike because we have already done our tasks, do yours and listen to the scientists (…) I want you to feel the fear I feel for all days and then act!"
Pope Francis congratulated and thanked Greta Thunberg for her environmental claims. It is quite an honour to be thanked by one of the most influential world leaders of the century.
With a maturity unusual for her age, Greta has also supported other social causes. She posted a photo with the LGBT flag on her Instagram profile and wrote #loveislove to honor Pride Day in Stockholm.
On International Women's Day, the activist wrote a long text on her social networks. “Nowhere in the world today women and men are equal The more I read about the climate crisis the more I realise how crucial feminism is. We can’t live in a sustainable world unless all genders and people are treated equally."
On her Twitter account, Greta responded to critics of her appearance: “When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning!"
Greta has already been on the cover of several important magazines around the world. Among them is Time.
GQ Magazine also chose the activist to compose its special article in this issue.
On August 14, 2019, the activist boarded a zero emissions sailboat that left a British port bound for the United States, where it arrived 14 days later.
To not emit carbon dioxide, the vessel she, her father, and a team traveled on was equipped with solar panels and underwater turbines to generate electricity.
Upon arriving at the port of New York, Greta took the opportunity to talk about the fires in the Amazon: “It is a clear sign that we have to stop destroying nature.”
Greta participated in the UN Climate Action Summit, an event that took place on September 23, 2019. After that, she intended to travel to Canada, Mexico, and Chile, sharing her fight for the planet's good at speaking events in the different countries. However, due to political unrest in Chile, COP25 was moved to Madrid, Spain.
Since Greta refuses to fly, she was lucky to find a ride across the Atlantic with Australians Riley Whitelum and Elayna Carausu (pictured). The couple had been sailing around the world aboard their 48-foot (15 m) catamaran, La Vagabonde, offered to take Greta to Europe. Greta and her father arrived at the Port of Lisbon on 3 December, 2019 and then traveled to Madrid to speak at COP25 event.
In December 2019, Greta spoke at COP25 in Madrid and participated with local Fridays for Future climate strikers. In a press conference that Thunberg gave before the march, she admitted that school strikes were not enough and were not working. Greta called for more "concrete action" and said that the school strikes throughout 2019 had "achieved nothing" since greenhouse gas emissions had still risen 4% since 2015.
Greta had many more opportunities to share her views at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. She was the guest editor of BBC Radio's 'The Today Programme'; she returned to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 21, 2020, and met Malala Yousafzai in February 2020 at Oxford University.
Greta also attended an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament's Environment Committee to discuss the European Climate Law. Greta declared that the new proposal for a climate law published by the European Commission was nothing more than a surrender. Unfortunately for Greta, the arrival of the Coronavirus put any further travel and activism plan on hold.
Due to the global pandemic, Greta saw that she needed to change the way in which she worked as an activist and turned to online activism until the COVID-19 situation became more under control. Friday strikes became online events, and the situation forced Greta to take what was most likely a much-needed break.
However, in May 2021, a short film thought up and written by Greta, was released, titled '#ForNature.' The film examines how humans' exploitation of animals combined with our agricultural practices is a toxic combination that is increasing the likelihood of pandemics.
2021 was also a year of emancipation for Greta Thunberg, according to The Guardian. The young activist moved out of her parent's home at the age of 18 and into a shared apartment with friends.
On October 31st, 2021, Greta attended Cop26 in Glasgow. It was another chance for Greta to do what she does best, speak her mind and stand up for the environment in the hopes that maybe, finally, the world's leaders will take some significant action to help combat climate change.
However, in her interview with The Guardian, Greta made it clear that she was not hopeful that the conference on climate change will be of any use. She told the newspaper: “The leaders will say we’ll do this and we’ll do this, and we will put our forces together and achieve this, and then they will do nothing. Maybe some symbolic things and creative accounting and things that don’t really have a big impact. We can have as many Cops as we want, but nothing real will come out of it.” We can only hope that young Greta is wrong...
Greta made headlines with her "Blah, blah, blah" speech at the Youth4Climate summit in Milan Italy in the fall of 2021 and for a good reason. After a year full of natural disasters, Greta Thunberg's speech is more than necessary.
“Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah,” said Greta in her speech. The young activist continued, "This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.”