Autism is indeed her superpower – Swedish teen Greta Thunberg speaks her mind to US leaders
She is just 16 years old and is making waves around the world with her passionate advocacy on climate change. Greta Thunberg of Sweden, who has autism, is in the United States where she met former president Barack Obama and other leaders.
“I know you are trying, but just not hard enough. Sorry,” Greta Thunberg did not mince words while speaking to a group of American leaders at a Senate climate task force in Washington DC this week.
The 16-year-old climate activist, who has autism, is inspiring young people around the globe to protest against the impact of global warming. She told the Senate, “Save your praise” adding “Don’t invite us here to just tell us how inspiring we are without actually doing anything about it”.
Greta is among a group of many young activists from around the world who have been invited to address the task force, the aim being to mobilise US lawmakers for urgent action on climate change. Greta sent the leaders an important report on global warming along with her words.
I am submitting this report as my testimony because I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists. And I want you to unite behind the science. And then I want you to take action. – Greta Thunberg, Climate change activist
Meeting with Obama
She also met with former US president Barack Obamaduring her visit. “Greta Thunberg is already one of our planet’s greatest advocates”, said President Obama. “Recognising that her generation will bear the brunt of climate change, she’s unafraid to push for real action”.
Greta’s visit to the US comes just ahead of a series of climate strikes planned around the world on Friday. There will be 4,638 events in 139 countries, followed by another strike next week, on Friday.
Greta arrived in the US in late August after a two-week voyage across the Atlantic on a zero-emissions sailboat. She does not take planes. She met other strikers and United Nations (UN) officials. She has held protests outside the White House and received an award Amnesty International.
On Friday, Greta will lead a rally in New York just ahead of a UN summit on climate action. Hundreds of thousands of youths in at least 150 countries will be walking out of school in a show of support.
Greta started missing school on Fridays a year ago to protest outside the Swedish parliament, that sparked a global climate strike movement called Fridays for Future.
From the beginning, Greta has been open about the fact that she is on the autism spectrum and tis makes her a source of inspiration and a role model. Her neuro diversity, she says, gives her an advantage, making her “think differently” especially in a big crisis. “We need to think outside the box, we need to think outside our current system, we need people who think outside the box and who aren’t like everyone else.”
However, she has also been bullied online for her disorder by people who have focused on her facial reactions. The autism community has rallied behind her in social media to support her with comments like “She is educated. She is autistic. I am autistic. This is how we are. But we aren’t ever going to back down because you want to gaslight us. Ever. Educate yourself”.
In April this year, Greta was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, an honour that Tatyana Dias, neurobiologist and founder of the organisation Veruschka Foundation, says testifies as to the incredible impact neuro diverse people can make due to the different way they see the world.
“it makes a statement that it is essential to accept people who are different. Society needs to start taking notice of this and give a platform to people who are capable.”