On BBC's Radio 4's Today, Greta Thunberg's father Svante Thunberg shared that his daughter, before taking activism, was suffering from depression for three to four years. He also revealed that initially, he thought of his daughter's climate activism as "a bad idea". In the same show, Greta called British presenter and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, where he hailed her activism efforts and gave her the credit for climate change being discussed in U.K.'s recently concluded general elections.
What did Svante Thunberg reveal about his daughter?
Talking to BBC presenter Mishal Husain, who 'flew' in to Sweden for the interview, Mr Thunberg said that initially he was "not supportive" of his daughter skipping school in order to stage climate protest. He said that Greta was suffering from depression for "three or four years" before she began her climate activism. "She stopped talking, she stopped going to school". She began refusing to eat, which he termed as an "ultimate nightmare for a parent".
Parents underwent misery
To help her get better, he started spending more time at home with his two daughters. Greta's mother, who is an opera singer started cancelling contracts, in order to spend more time with her family. Upon consulting doctors, Greta was diagnosed with Asperger's, a form of autism, which he described as something which allows her to "see things from outside the box".
With time, Greta became increasingly passionate about environment and even accused her parents of being "huge hypocrites". "Greta said: 'Whose human rights are you standing up for?', since we were not taking this climate issue seriously," he said. They soon changed their ways, with Greta's mother refusing to travel by air and he himself becoming a vegan.
Accompanied her to UN summit
He has accompanied his daughter to UN climate summits at New York and Madrid, where she traveled by sea as she refuses to travel via air, due to its environmental impact. Thunberg said, he did all these things, not for climate, but to "save" his child. "I have two daughters and to be honest they are all that matter to me. I just want them to be happy," he added.
After taking activism, Greta has become "very happy", said her father. Talking about his daughter's fame, he said, "You think she's not ordinary now because she's special, and she's very famous, and all these things. But to me she's now an ordinary child, she can do all the things like other people can. She dances around, she laughs a lot, we have a lot of fun, and she's in a very good place".
He shared that he was concerned about the criticism her daughter faces. He said, he was particularly concerned about "the fake news, all the things that people try to fabricate her - the hate that that generates". But lauding his daughter's way of handling criticism, he said, "Quite frankly, I don't know how she does it, but she laughs most of the time. She finds it hilarious".
Sir David Attenborough lauds Greta's efforts
In the same show, Greta called Sir David Attenborough over Skype and told him how he inspired her activism. He, in turn, hailed her efforts and said she had "achieved things that many of us who have been working on the issue for 20 years have failed to do." He further added that the 16-year old was the only reason that climate issue was discussed in UK's general elections.