‘Now I Am Speaking to the Whole World.’ How Teen Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Got Everyone to Listen

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“Can you hear me?” Greta Thunberg asks the 150 members and advisers in the U.K. Houses of Parliament. She taps the microphone as if to check if it’s on, but the gesture is meant as a rebuke; she’s asking if they’re listening. She asks again later in her speech. “Did you hear what I just said? Is my English O.K.? Is my microphone on? Because I’m beginning to wonder.” There is laughter, but it’s unclear if it’s amused or awkward. Thunberg is not smiling. She’s here to talk climate; a catastrophe is looming, her generation will bear it, and she knows whom to blame. “You did not act in time,” she declares. Castigating the powerful has become routine for the 16-year-old. In December, she addressed the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Poland; in January she berated billionaires at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Her London speech was the last stop of a tour that included meeting the Pope. (“Continue to work, continue,” he told her, ending with, “Go along, go ahead.” It was an exhortation, not a dismissal.) Just nine months ago, Thunberg had no such audiences. She was a lone figure sitting outside the Swedish Parliament […]

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