Why was Greta Thunberg actually named Person of the Year?

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Why was Greta Thunberg actually named Person of the Year?
Why was Greta Thunberg actually named Person of the Year?

Time magazine named Greta Thunberg "Person of the Year". Before that, he made them Hitler in the year of the Munich Agreement, Stalin in the year of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Nixon in the year of Watergate and an American soldier in the year of the invasion of Iraq. At the same time, less complex personalities were appointed "people of the year". How did Time make this choice and why might its editors be wrong?

Good or Evil?

An American magazine - or rather, its editor - has been choosing "Person of the Year" since 1927. And he always notes that the choice is made among the people who most influenced the events of the period. Influenced in a good or bad way. That is why among his chosen ones there were often personalities, let's say, contradictory.


Undoubtedly, the editors of Time named Hitler "Person of the Year", realizing that his influence on the events of the Munich Agreement was, although decisive, but negative. / © Time

Let's say that no one doubts that Hitler's influence on world affairs in 1938 was the greatest. As the editor of Time wrote in justification of his choice that year:

“Without shedding blood, he turned Czechoslovakia into a German puppet, forced to sharply reconsider (read: destroyed. - Author's note) the system of defensive alliances in Europe and untied his hands in Eastern Europe, received a promise of non-intervention from powerful Britain and later France. Adolf Hitler undoubtedly became the "Man of the Year - 1938".


In the same way, the editors of the magazine treated Stalin (just take a look at the artist's “benevolent” fantasies on the theme of Stalin’s appearance), who became “Person of the Year” immediately after Hitler / © Time

From this it is clear that the magazine did not assess the activities of this character as unambiguously positive. Rather, he proceeded from his demonstrated ability to do what he wants, against the will of others.

However, now, when Time named Greta Thunberg the person of the year, he assessed her actions in a completely different way from Hitler in 1938 or Stalin in 1939 (then he also became the person of the year). The Swedish eco-activist was described in an unequivocally positive way. Her position is indicated by the magazine as: "A simple truth brought by a teenage girl in a fateful moment." The entire text about her status "Person of the Year" is imbued with the editorial staff's true sympathy for the girl.

Time can be understood: public space is dominated by one approach to global warming, one simple truth about it. It is evil, "the greatest crisis in the history of mankind," as the same Thunberg claims.

But our generation has heard many simple truths. Some of us remember how doctors in childhood told that diabetes comes from sweets. Someone, like the Nobel laureate in economics Paul Samuelson, assured that the economy of the USSR would outgrow the United States.

Finally, just three years ago, leading economists (led by Nobel laureate Paul Krugman) argued that Trump would lead the United States into immediate economic disaster. All this, like many other "simple truths", turned out to be not at all so simple and not at all true. They were misconceptions, albeit widespread recently.

Therefore, with simple truths, which are supposedly shared by all experts, it is best to adhere to the opinion of another Nobel laureate in physics, Richard Feynman: "Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts." Undoubtedly, scientific truth cannot exist without doubts that could be used to test it. It is worth pondering: Is Time magazine right in calling Thunberg's position a simple truth?

Simple untruth

Everything Greta Thunberg says boils down to the fact that humanity is facing a crisis that threatens its existence - climate change. Among the problems of our species, nothing is more important than his, she said. She considers the current adults to be guilty of this. At the same time, the adults themselves will suffer less from it than the young, due to the fact that they will die more quickly.

And like the icing on the cake: adults don't want to take vigorous action to do something about it. The reason - among other things - is that they are unwilling to listen to the opinions of scientists.


Greta says people are suffering and dying from a climate emergency. As we showed in the text, the link to which is given below, in reality, people die from the cold many times more often than from the heat, and warming leads to a decrease in excess mortality / © giphy.com

How true are these "simple truths"? We have already discussed the question of how climate change actually affects what is happening. In short, the situation is this: global warming is a reality. It is as a result of it that the growth of terrestrial biomass is proceeding at a record speed - in a way that it did not do in all the previous 53 thousand years. The planet is undergoing global greening - a scientific term that Greta Thunberg and other eco-activists pronounce as often as the Pope - the words "There is no God."

Thanks to him, in 1982-2011, the area of vegetation increased significantly on 46% of the earth's land. During the same time, only 4% of the planet showed a reduction in vegetation - in areas of felling and the like. Together with the rest of the vegetation, the area of forests is expanding (including in Russia). For 1982-2015 - by 2.24 million square kilometers, or six Germany.

But the threats to the existence of mankind from climate change are still forcing themselves, to put it mildly, to wait. Yes, every day we see news that then, sometime in the future, warming will certainly lead to desertification, catastrophic crop failures, and so on.

Meanwhile, in reality, agricultural productivity is growing by 1.63% per year, and the world's population is growing by only 1.1%. That is, the provision of the world's population with food is getting better and better. Moreover, global greening, caused precisely by anthropogenic CO2 and warming, is unlikely to ever lead to anything else other than an increase in yields (otherwise, the ongoing global greening would be impossible).

After all, the overwhelming majority of plants grow better, the higher the carbon dioxide content in the air. At the same time, no desertification is observed on the planet. On the contrary: satellite images show that in the desert and semi-desert zones between 1982 and 2010 there was 11.3% more vegetation.

More details about the actual impact of climate change on humanity - including in terms of sea level rise and other threats - can be found in our material “What Greta Thunberg Kept Silent About: How Climate Really Kills People”.

Brief conclusion: Time magazine was a little too hasty to label Thunberg's position as a "simple truth." At first, its editorial board would have to get acquainted with all the scientific works on the topic, and not just those that are most often mentioned in the media.

Greta Thunberg: Trump 2.0?

Global greening is reported in Nature, and the growth of forest areas and the record rate of biomass on Earth - in other leading scientific journals. It seems that no one hides them in special depositories, anyone can read them. Greta suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, and her characteristic features include a limited and persistent repertoire of interests and activities. The girl, in theory, cannot fail to know everything about global warming - including the facts mentioned above.

So what does it do? Greta is deceiving her gullible listeners - all these politicians and businessmen?

It must be admitted that many of her ill-wishers express such thoughts. Others say that this is a "commercial project", the participants of which knock off funds at the performances of Greta Thunberg - in the manner of how they did it in their time with "Tender May".

The most memorable compare "Person of the Year - 2019" with "Person of the Year - 2016", that is, Donald Trump. He, as it is easy to see from the letter he signed and protecting his property from global warming, believed in climate change until it interfered with his, pardon my frankness, business interests. And then he grabbed for land with wind farms, got into a bad company, got carried away with politics - and this is the sad result, now he is the President of the United States. Local economic bosses often work in the oil and gas or coal sectors.


Unlike Person of the Year 2016, Greta Thunberg can be quite sincere in her statements. Which, alas, does not make them scientifically accurate / © giphy.com

As a result, Trump, having forgotten that the Internet remembers his real views on climate change, now pretends not to believe in global warming at all. So, as we can see, cynical contempt for the truth in one's political or business interests in modern society is, to put it mildly, not new.

However, we doubt that Greta doesn't really believe what she is saying. It should be remembered: Asperger's syndrome, contrary to the words of the girl from Sweden, who calls him "superpower", is a rather serious problem. If your circle of interests is limited, narrow and includes the same topics, then it can be difficult for you to change the opinion that you once acquired on a particular issue.

Sufferers of this syndrome are often simply too inflexible. The Swede herself admitted that she sees the world "in black and white." For her, warming is evil, and that's the point.

Greta Thunberg and the rise of the greens to the top of the political Olympus

Yes, Time is wrong in calling Thunberg's position "a simple truth." But what the editorial office cannot refuse is the instinct of an information predator. The Swedish girl is, in fact, "Person of the Year" - in the sense that it is she who influences the reality of this particular year more than other people represented in the visible part of the information space.


Paris, France, 2019. Greta quickly learned to lead the crowd / © Wikimedia Commons

It may seem that we are exaggerating. Well, yes, the actions of schoolchildren, "striking for the climate", covered more than 100 cities around the world, they were attended by millions. Yes, public opinion in Western countries is mostly on her side. But is it so important, because the world is not ruled by children or public opinion?

However, take a closer look at the surrounding reality. Somehow it happened that in May of this year, in the elections to the European Parliament, the "Greens" in Germany for the first time took the second place, gaining 20.5%. Already this summer, they became the most popular party in the FRG according to polls, ahead of even the ruling CDU / CSU. Many Germans seriously believe that the next chancellor of the main country of the European Union could be exactly green.

But in order to influence European politics, the “greens” do not even have to win. First, it is more comfortable to criticize from a branch of the irreconcilable opposition than to torment and strain, putting together a ruling coalition. Secondly, the frightened middle-aged party bosses from the CDU / CSU understand that the voter has begun to love the green theme - and have just introduced subsidies for electric vehicles up to six thousand euros apiece. Green measures are being introduced out of fear of their victory.

Perhaps Greta Thunberg's unprecedented PR success and the rise of the Greens in Europe are a coincidence? How can one 16-year-old girl influence the West as a whole?

The school of life is the school of captains … There I learned to break off adults

Oddly enough, it's not that hard. Greta is not just a girl with pigtails: there is something under them, on her shoulders - a well-thinking head. To influence those around you, you need to understand what actually effectively changes their minds. Lenin, for example, kept on his desk "The Psychology of the Crowd" by Gustave Le Bon. But in order to learn how to manage people, it is far from always necessary to read in inhuman volumes, like the same Ulyanov. An observant person can learn a lot from the life around him.

What has surrounded Greta since childhood? Father, Svante Thunberg, is a famous Swedish actor (his father is also an actor), and today he is traveling with his daughter. Mother, Malena Ernman, an opera singer, is also not super far from the acting genre. But the girl's history is not just an acting dynasty - she also regularly attended a theater group, not the last in Sweden, and also studied dancing. Not bad for a victim of Asperger Syndrome - they are known to be normally clumsy.


Greta performing in Montreal, Canada. Despite the obviously too large (someone else's?) Shirt, designed to hide her figure, it is clearly seen here that the girl “feels” the audience and keeps the situation under control / © Wikimedia Commons

The decisive crisis, after which Greta began to promote the fight against warming in her own family, happened in 2014, when she was 11. According to her mother, she started having problems with friends, for several months Greta did not speak to anyone at school. What happens to a girl at the beginning of puberty when she starts having problems with friends? That's right: she lacks the attention of others. And the deficit must be able to fill.

One of the situations that often happens in this case: a teenage girl turns to "her" adults - her parents, trying to get support from them. This is precisely what is noticeable in the story of Thunberg's mother. She reports: “Greta did not want to talk and did not eat. She was very sad and depressed and did not want to go to school, did not want to be there. We were at home with her 24 hours a day. Mostly she wanted to sit on the couch with us. " At the same time, the parents had to postpone several concert tours of the mother - we recall, the demanded opera singer.

At this point, fifth-grader Greta took the first step towards understanding how adults can be influenced. It is necessary to make them panic, drastically change their point of view - this will allow them to be taken out of their usual, normal state and made susceptible to influence. You need to make them feel your fear or your desire, then they themselves will do what you want.

Fear is not the only method of control. It also works well to provoke other emotions, such as feelings of guilt. Girl Greta - even before her public career - was concerned about the issue of global warming, which she sees in black and white. Therefore, one day she wanted her parents to stop eating meat, dairy products, and also flying on airplanes. After all, cattle emit methane, airplanes emit CO2.

If an ordinary person is instructed to force his parents to give up meat, and his mother (for whom concerts abroad are a large part of the income) from the plane, he will not cope.

But Greta was able to:

“I started to worry about it (about warming. - Author's note) and talked to my parents about it. I continued to show them articles and charts - but they were like everyone else … They had excuses (not to do what Greta wanted. - Author's note). But then I made them feel so guilty … I constantly told them that they were depriving me of my future, that they could not stand up for human rights while they were living this way (eating meat and flying airplanes. - Author's note), and then they decided to change their lifestyle. My father is vegan, my mother - she tries - 90% vegan."

Greta is three times younger than her mother, but it is she who celebrates her successes and speaks benevolently about her parent: "She is trying." In our opinion, this is an excellent result, a high-quality “study” of a seemingly adult person in the direction where, to be honest, he didn’t really want to move.

The methods tested on “their” adults - the parents - perfectly helped the girl to manage and “stranger” adults. Whether realized or not, Greta perfectly exploits her image of a "little" girl, putting on the most loose clothing that masks her secondary sexual characteristics. Wears pigtails, a completely atypical hairstyle for a girl of this age (try to get your daughter to wear that), and those braids make her look more like a girl than a woman. An uncorrected slight squint also works well for the image of a "natural" young lady.


Despite the carefully demonstrated braid (which for this you have to get right from over the shoulder) and other details of the image of "a little girl offended by adults", Greta, of course, is quite able to present herself / © Instagram / Greta Thunberg

At the forum in Davos in 2019, Greta was honest and frank when she said - right in the face of the heads of countries and large corporations: “I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear that I feel every day. And I want you to act after that."

Doesn't it look like anything? The girl wants to inspire those around her with certain emotions, the same that she feels. So that they then do what she wants them to do. There is little new in this position: many manipulators of both sexes do just that every day.

But, definitely, Greta stands out from this row. She is not manipulating some kind of parents (as we have already shown, this is a passed stage for her) or a sexual partner, like her less ambitious and skillful peers. In Davos, she said without much concealment: “I want you to do what I want” - to the leaders of states and large companies.

And, as the press rightly notes, she managed to cause discomfort in them, forcing them to move in the direction that the girl wants.