From her iconic speech at the Climate Action Summit to her stony stare at President Donald Trump. From her quirky Twitter bios targeting world leaders to being the Time's 'Person of the Year', the 17-year-old Swede climate activist, Greta Thunberg, put herself and the issue of climate change, at the centre of global attention.
But all these weren't easy to accomplish, for a 17-year-old teenager, battling a range of issues--from autism, Asperger's syndrome to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders. In a book, titled, 'Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis', the Thunberg family has described Greta's extraordinary transformation from a troubled child to becoming the global climate change icon.
Published excerpts of the book
A few excerpts of the book have been released, in which Greta's mother, a celebrated Swedish opera singer, Malena Ernman, has described her daughter's journey from a near-mute 11-year-old to becoming the strongest voice on the issue of climate change.
Describing her daughter developing autism, Ernman writes, "She was slowly disappearing into some kind of darkness. She stopped playing the piano. She stopped laughing. She stopped talking. And she stopped eating. She often remained silent, refusing to eat anything except tiny amounts of rice, avocado and gnocchi," Guardian reported. As a result, she lost over 10 kgs in just two months and was on the verge of being admitted to hospital.
The school wasn't kind, either. "The school isn't sympathetic," Ernman writes. "Their understanding of the situation is different. It's Greta's own fault, the school thinks." Soon, Greta was diagnosed with "high-functioning" autism, which Ernman describes as Asperger's. She also suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The event that put climate change, at the centre of Greta's life
It was when a film was shown in her class, about rubbish in the oceans, "an island of plastic" in the south Pacific. What caught Greta's attention was the indifference of her peers, who soon turned their focus to a teacher's trip to New York and flights to Thailand and Vietnam. "Greta can't reconcile any of this with any of what she has just seen," Ernman writes. "She saw what the rest of us did not want to see. It was as if she could see our CO2 emissions with her naked eye," she adds.
It was in the summer of 2018, that Greta began her first school strike, in which she took a home-made placard to stand outside the Swedish prime minister's office. Seeing that the issue was taking an emotional toll on her daughter, Greta's father tried to persuade her to withdraw, which she refused. She was soon joined by other activists.
On the third day of her strike, a Greenpeace activist offered her vegan Thai noodles. "She takes a little bite. And another. No one reacts to what's happening. Why would they? ... Greta keeps eating. Not just a few bites but almost the whole serving", her mother writes. 'Our House is on Fire', written by the Thunberg family, is set to be released on March 5.