Greta Thunberg is TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year

This young activist has captivated the world

Dec 13, 2019

Time magazine has traditionary honored world leaders both popular and unpopular as their person of the year. German chancellor Angela Merkel has been chosen in the past and so has United States president Donald Trump. This year, TIME picked a world leader of a different type, Swedish Greta Thunberg who is a climate crisis activist and at 16, the youngest person to ever be chosen for this honor.

Thunberg gained international recognition for the  emotional speech she made in September 2019 at the UN Climate Action summit that called out the inaction of world leaders and again at last week's COP25 conference.

"Thunberg has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet — and the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington," TIME editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal wrote in an article about why she was chosen Person of the Year.

He explained that meaningful change rarely happens without a galvanizing force and Thunberg is that force. She is the face and the voice of the youth who are demanding action.

Thunberg never set out to start a movement when she began to skip school in August 2018 as a way to protest her government's inaction on climate change and it snowballed from there into the Fridays for Future (F4F) student led popular school strike for climate movement.

"She was a solo protestor with a hand-painted sign [Skolstrejk för Klimatet]14 months ago. She's now led millions of people around the world, 150 countries, to act on behalf of the planet," Felsenthal said.

“This moment does feel different,” former vice president Al Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his decades of climate advocacy work, told TIME. “Throughout history, many great morally based movements have gained traction at the very moment when young people decided to make that movement their cause.”

When she traveled to the UN summit on a zero-emission sailboat, she tweeted, "Together with many other young people across the Americas and the world, I will be there, even if the journey will be long and challenging. We will make our voices heard. It is our future on the line, and we must at least have a say in it."  

Thunberg's message is clear, if we do not stop global warming and climate change, she and the rest of the world have no future. She speaks with a passion about real science, if global warming is not stopped, oceans will rise, cities will flood, and people will suffer. She is the generational voice of reason in an unreasonable situation and she deserves the world's attention and to be TIME magazine's 2109 person of the year.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.