Time Magazine has named 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg as their 2019 Person of the Year.
Thunberg, who Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal described as “the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year,” is now the youngest person ever to receive the prestigious award which has been previously earned by heads of state and a pair of popes.
ABC News reports:
The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist has become an iconic face in the fight to save the planet from climate change. Last year, she began spending her Fridays protesting by herself outside the Swedish parliament, and that effort grew to her leading a host of student-led climate strikes involving millions of people all around the world.
Thunberg sailed on a solar-powered boat from England to New York this fall for a United Nations climate summit instead of flying, emphasizing it’s less harmful to the environment. She then drew worldwide attention for her fiery speech at the U.N., where she accused world leaders of stealing her dreams and childhood with their inaction on climate change.
— TIME (@TIME) December 11, 2019
Felsenthal went on to describe Thunberg’s ascension to stardom as “really extraordinary,” per the report.
“She was a solo protester with a hand-painted sign 14 months ago. She’s now led millions of people around the world, 150 countries, to act on behalf of the planet, and she’s really been a key driver this year taking this issue from backstage to center,” he continued in his remarks.
The editor-in-chief went on to say the young activist, who is vocal about her medically diagnosed Asperger’s neurological disorder, “represents a broader generational shift in the culture that we’re seeing from the campuses of Hong Kong to the protests in Chile to Parkland, Florida, where the students marched against gun violence, where young people are demanding change urgently.”
During her September speech before the United Nations, Thunberg challenged the world leaders to do more to help the environment amid what she described as a growing scare of climate devastation.
“Entire ecosystems are collapsing,” Thunberg said. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you! The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say — we will never forgive you.”
ABC News adds:
The top 10 contenders included Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, U.S. Women’s National Team Captain Megan Rapinoe, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and Trump’s personal lawyer.
Time’s 2018 Person of the Year was “The Guardians” — journalists who have faced persecution, arrest or murder for their reporting — including Jamal Khashoggi, Maria Ressa and the staff of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland.