By Aoife Burke
Who is Greta Thunberg? According to Wikipedia, she is 17 years old and from Stockholm, Sweden. She is famous all over the world as an environmentalist. Her parents are Malena Ernman and Svante Thunberg, and she is still legally a minor. Recently, a Canadian Oil company apologized to Miss Thunberg for a sexualized image of a naked woman with her back turned, both hands pulling on her braids. Her name appeared below the image along with the company logo. The Canadian company has promised to “do better.”
She has been criticized and abused for her uncompromising attitude towards the government’s failure to protect the environment. According to ABC news in the US, Greta said the EU is “pretending” to help climate change crisis. More recently, she met Malala in Oxford University in the UK. She travels all over the world in as eco-friendly a manner as possible, spreading the word through the media. However, at the end of the day, she is a public figure. More than ever, we need to protect vulnerable young women from abuse and predatory people on the internet. She has been featured in Time magazine and nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Has anyone else achieved such recognition and success? No. Greta’s father Svante has said he worries for his daughter. He is glad she is happy as an activist, but he worries about the hate she receives. She skipped school to become an environmentalist, and spearheaded a global environmental campaign that led to school strikes across the globe. She demanded world leaders take action.
It was also reported in the media that Greta suffered from depression. She went through a phase of refusing to eat and when doctors were called, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s. She refuses to travel by air due to its carbon footprint and goes on sailing expeditions. She even called her parents “hypocrites” for not taking her generation’s issues seriously. She has faced a backlash from people who don’t want to change their lifestyles. She has been abused for being different and the clothes she wears and how she looks. Also, now that she has turned 17, she no longer needs a chaperone. I think laws should be enforced to protect her not only as a public figure and activist, but also as a teenage girl. I think the media should be better regulated, especially social media, to protect her from receiving nasty tweets and getting hate mail and negative press. She isn’t doing anything wrong; she is just highly visible and keyboard warriors may think they are entitled to say and do what they like. Her parents said they made changes in their lives to “save” their daughter rather than the environment and Greta’s campaigning makes her happy. At the end of the day, we need to be mindful of those who choose to be in the media and live their lives publicly. Some day, they will be the same age as we are now, and they want and deserve a healthy environment to live in and pass on to generations to come.