Greta Thunberg is no longer the poster girl for the fight against climate change. Why?

By Charlie Sawyer

Published May 16, 2024 at 10:29 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

In 2019, Greta Thunberg was named TIME Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’— an honour that immediately initiated her membership into an incredibly prestigious group of people, such as #MeToo movement trailblazers and the Occupy movement. She was 16 years old at the time. Thunberg was a regular at United Nations conferences, rubbed shoulders with world leaders, and was the world’s poster child for saving the planet. So, why has Thunberg’s face become a rarity in the media just five years later? And why did so many people’s love and admiration for the activist now turn to dismissal and vitriol?

Welcome back to Explained By a Blonde, a column where I vocalise thoughts you never asked for and share opinions you never knew you needed. This week, we’re talking about none other than Miss Greta Thunberg, a girly pop who’s been pretty absent from mainstream media in recent years.

 

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A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg)

Now, this is not to say that the 21-year-old has gone into hiding or taken a step back from her activism. In fact, she’s gotten bolder and has been incredibly present at different protests across the world. The thing is, no one seems to be wanting to talk about it.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve come across a few different videos and articles regarding people’s thoughts on why Thunberg isn’t reported on as much as she used to be. And also why the public, who once viewed the activist’s relentless persistence in the fight against climate change as inspirational, now consider Thunberg to be ‘annoying’, ‘irritating’ and ‘a waste of space’. Ouch.

In February 2024, journalist Nadeine Asbali wrote an article for the Big Issue titled: Why have we fallen out of love with Greta Thunberg? It’s because she’s hitting the system where it hurts. In her piece, Asbali talks a lot about how both the media and world order turned their backs on Thunberg when she decided to step out of the cookie-cutter mould of a quiet 15-year-old sat on the steps of Stockholm’s parliament.

Thunberg’s brand of activism now looks a lot like this: advocating for refugees’ rights, criticising capitalism, engaging in disruptive demonstrations that result in her arrest, and very actively participating in protests against Israel amid the war in Gaza. In other words, all methods that clearly aren’t considered magazine cover material.

 

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A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg)

 

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A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg)

 

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A post shared by SCREENSHOT (@screenshothq)

“With the veneer of childhood gone, Thunberg has become something that this state cannot abide: a genuine activist and someone whose politics looks broader than themselves. So if you, like me, were wondering why the world seems to have forgotten about Greta Thunberg suddenly, it’s because she is actually hitting the system where it hurts,” Asbali concluded.

On 8 March, TikToker Amelia Montooth posted a video echoing Asbali’s thoughts. The creator similarly follows the theory that while Thunberg started her activism journey by fighting climate change—a move that’s very ‘trendy’ and ‘commercialised’—she soon began to realise that “capitalism is the root of all evil.”

@ameliamontooth

i will always stand w miss grl #gretathunberg #climate #wlw

♬ original sound - Amelia

As Montooth sees it, the media and the world will applaud anyone who speaks out about climate change, but as soon as you begin to criticise the reasons why climate change is so prevalent, you’re silenced.

Also, if Thunberg was this so-called “propaganda tool for the far-left” that so many conservatives accuse her of being, wouldn’t leftist publishers be covering her on a more regular basis…?

The conversation regarding the media’s relationship with Thunberg is one of massive interest, and one that we’ll likely see continue to grow and develop in the coming months. The thing to remember though, is that Greta truly couldn’t give a crap about what any of us is saying. All she cares about is that we keep talking about the issues.

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