The Nation, we believe, was the first US magazine to put Greta Thunberg on its cover. This was back in March 2019, shortly after the Swedish teenager delivered a scientifically impeccable tongue-lashing to global elites at their annual talk-fest in Davos. “I don’t want your hope,” she told them. “I want you to act as if the house is on fire. Because it is.”
Thunberg since then has delivered plenty more plain talk, including an epic “How dare you?” takedown of world leaders at the 2019 United Nations climate summits, and inspired millions of young people around the world to “school strike for climate,” to quote the sign she carried outside the Swedish Parliament—mass actions that have propelled the climate issue onto the global public agenda in a way that could not be ignored. Those strikes have now taken place for 150 weeks, Thunberg announced last week in a speech to the annual Austrian World Summit 2021, organized by actor and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This latest speech was also a tour de force. Brilliantly employing a play on words (while speaking in her second language, no less), the young Swede blasted government and corporate officials for responding to the movement’s demands by deciding to act—but only to “act like” they are taking meaningful steps, not what’s actually necessary to preserve a livable climate.
Her speech, less than eight minutes, is shown here in its entirety.