A year ago, Greta Thunberg was a studious but largely silent 15-year-old at the back of the class. If she was known for anything at school, it was for worrying about things such as climate change. She couldn’t understand how her classmates could know that life on Earth was threatened by the burning of fossil fuel, yet they carried on with their lives as if it didn’t matter.
In August last year, after a blisteringly hot summer which saw wild fires ravage Swedish forests, she bunked off school and sat on the cobbles outside the Swedish parliament to launch her ‘school strike for the climate’. A teenager in pigtails with a hand-painted sign, she was alone all day.
In the world of social media, her form of activism was perverse. ‘If I had been just like everyone else and been social, then I would have just tried to start an organization,’ she told The Guardian in an interview. ‘But I couldn’t do that. I’m not very good with people, so I did something myself instead.’