Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg has been named as Time’s “Person of the Year” for 2019, as the established magazine reports themselves. The shortlist of potential contenders for the title was wide and varied — ranging from President Donald Trump to the Hong Kong protesters currently embroiled in a prolonged struggle against Chinese authorities — but the 16-year-old Swedish environmentalist eventually ended up receiving her laurels.
Per NBC News, the announcement that Greta had been named Time’s “Person of the Year” was made by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal, during his appearance on the TODAY show.
“She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement,” Felsenthal said, then proclaiming that the world-famous climate activist had taken top honors as far as his publication was concerned.
According to the Time feature on Greta Thunberg, the teenager began her burgeoning career in environmental activism just last summer, skipping classes in order to camp out in front of the Swedish parliament. There, she held up a sign painted in striking black letters reading “Skolstrejk för klimatet” — or in English, “School Strike for Climate.” Since that time, her public profile has only grown.
Greta Thunberg has, in the intervening months since that first public stand, made quite the name for herself. Making headlines on a regular basis for her unrelenting push for international action on the climate portfolio, the young woman has met with the Pope, has sat down with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and has even fist-bumped former President Barack Obama. In perhaps the most telling evidence of her newfound super-stardom, she’s even appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ top-rated talk show.
Not everyone is on board with Greta’s public activism, however. Critics of the Swedish teen are fairly vocal in their disagreement with the rising climate star, with President Donald Trump having responded to the teenager’s impassioned pleas at the U.N. — her famous “How Dare You!” speech — with an acerbic tweet, per the BBC.
“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
And while there’s likely a bit of friction between Greta and the current president — after all, following his tweet, Greta told Swedish television interviewers that she “knew he was going to say something about me,” with a bit of a laugh — she has also faced down detractors from other spheres as well.
Whether or not one agrees with Greta Thunberg’s take on the threat of climate change, there can be little doubt that she has become an international face for the environmentalist movement. With that in mind, perhaps her having been named Time’s “Person of the Year” for 2019 shouldn’t come as such a surprise, after all.