Time magazine has just announced its 2019 Person of the Year, and it is Greta Thunberg. So far, the 16-year-old is the youngest individual to receive the recognition, thanks to her youthful activism that has brought global attention to the planet’s climate crisis.
It all began when she skipped school back in August 2018 to hold a strike in front of the Swedish Parliament. As Time magazine described it, “In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the United Nations, met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history.” Even the Collins Dictionary lexicographers selected ‘climate strike’ as the word of the year, in honor of Thunberg’s idea.
Time’s editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal, elaborated, “Thunberg has become the biggest voice in the biggest issue facing the planet,” namely climate change and its environmental repercussions. While climate action and its attendant politics are not entirely new, Thunberg’s difference, according to Time magazine, is that “she has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change.”
In 1927, Time Magazine inaugurated the annual accolade, first calling it the Man of the Year award, which has since evolved into the Person of the Year award. The recipient is often the most influential person, group, idea or object that “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year,” in other words, a newsmaker honored for shaping or defining the year.
Earlier this year, Thunberg was nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize but did not win it. Another honor, an environmental award held by the Nordic Council, was instead given to Thunberg, but she declined it, saying “The climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power to start to listen to the current, best available science.”
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