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Facebook, February 2, 2019
In a Facebook post, Thunberg tells her story, dispels some misconceptions, and answers some objections. Nine months before, she was one of the winners of a writing competition about the environment. Afterward, she was dissatisfied with other activists’ ideas for how to bring attention to the climate crisis. Despite her parents’ objections, Thunberg went on a strike from school in front of the Swedish Parliament. The resulting publicity was spontaneous, not prearranged.
Thunberg is not part of any organization, nor being “used” by one, and she is not profiting from her activism. Her parents pay her travel costs. They wrote a book about their family, but the proceeds go to charity. Thunberg writes her own speeches, although she consults with scientists to make sure that what she says is accurate. Because of her Asperger’s, she finds working alone easier than being part of a team.
Some people say Thunberg is oversimplifying, but the issue is black and white: either runaway climate change will be prevented, or it will occur. Other people object that she is telling people to panic. Yes, she says, “I want you to panic,” because panic is called for. Finally, some people say she is too young to be doing what she is doing. She completely agrees, but her future and that of others her age is at risk. If people would pay attention to the science, she and other striking children could go back to school.
This speech revolves around the theme addressed in the collection’s title: that every person can make a difference in the fight against climate change. Thunberg reframes a perceived weakness, in this case her age, as a strength. She was not famous or influential until she began to speak about the climate crisis, and now important people listen to her because she took a stand. She is a powerful example of a young, seemingly inconsequential person who made a profound difference, thus successfully supporting the theme of individual power. Although Thunberg is mainly talking about her own activism rather than climate change itself, her style remains the same: direct, factual, and relatable. One by one, she counters the various untrue accusations that have been made about her. While defending herself, she takes the opportunity to repeat the basic message she has delivered in earlier speeches. She turns the accusation that she is too young for activism against her accusers by stating that their failure to address climate change made her activism necessary. This final argument reframes her actions on her terms.