Early Wednesday morning, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived in New York after a 15-day trek across the Atlantic on a zero-emissions yacht, CNN reported.
The straight-talking Swedish teen has made headlines over the last year for calling on lawmakers across the world to take seriously what she calls the “climate crisis.”
“Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope, I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic,” she said during a speech at the World Economic Forum, France 24 reported. “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house was on fire. Because it is.”
Here’s what you need to know about the teen activist.
1. She spearheaded a school strike to fight climate change
In August 2018, Thunberg hit the world stage when she began taking time off school to sit in front of Swedish parliament in advance of the country’s impending general election, the Guardian reported. She handed out pamphlets that read “I am doing this because you adults are [expletive] on my future.”
Students joined her the next week, and by September, Thunberg was orchestrating weekly strikes called “Fridays for the Future,” during which she urged students to walk out of school to bring awareness to the climate crisis, Reuters reported.
May 24 the following year, students from 1,664 cities across the world went on strike, urging lawmakers to get serious about addressing climate change, Time reported. That month, the magazine named her one of the world’s most influential people.
2. She has autism
Thunberg has been open about her autism diagnosis — which she shares with her sister, along with ADHD — and credits it in making her such a potent advocate for the environment, Vox reported.
“I see the world a bit different, from another perspective,” she told the New Yorker, Vox reported. “It’s very common that people on the autism spectrum have a special interest. … I can do the same thing for hours.”
3. Critics have called her following cult-like and her tactics, fear mongering
Ahead of a speech to French parliament, lawmaker Julien Aubert said Thunberg should “win a Nobel Prize for fear,” the BBC reported. Other legislatures referred to her as the “Justin Bieber of ecology” and a “prophetess in short pants.”
A blogger for the Herald Sun in Australia referred to her following as “The Cult of Greta Thunberg,” calling her “the deeply disturbed messiah of the global warming movement.”
4. She’s been nominated for an actual Nobel Prize (for Peace, not fear)
In March, Norwegian lawmaker Freddy André Øvstegård, told news outlets he had nominated Thunberg for the Nobel Peace Prize, Huffington Post reported. Two additional Norwegian lawmakers also nominated Thunberg.
“The massive movement Greta has set in motion is a very important peace contribution,” Øvstegård said, according to The Globe and Mail.
The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be announced Oct. 11, according to the organization.
5. She’s not afraid to speak plainly to people in positions of power
In April, the 16-year-old spoke to British Parliament, stating, “This ongoing irresponsible behavior will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind,” the BBC reported.
In July, she urged lawmakers at the French Parliament to listen to science: “Some people have chosen not to come here today, some have chosen not to listen to us and that is fine, we are after all just children, you don’t have to listen to us. But you do have to listen to the scientists, that is all we ask,” Reuters reported.
She spoke to European Parliament in April, where she told lawmakers, “If our house was falling apart, you wouldn’t hold three emergency Brexit summits and no emergency summit regarding the breakdown of the climate and the environment,” the Guardian reported.