20 things you didn’t know about Greta Thunberg

Despite being only 16, Greta Thunberg has already made an impact on the world and will likely keep doing so in the future.


Curious about the renown Swedish environmental activist? Here are 20 facts about her.

1. Greta was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and selected mutism.

Frankie Fouganthin | Wikimedia Commons

When her parents took her to specialists to figure out what was going on with her—why she stopped talking, eating and was depressed—, they learned she had Asperger’s syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder and selected mutism. This is partly why the teen speaks so bluntly: she speaks when she thinks it is necessary and will not waste time saying comforting words.

2. A psychologist says he’s worried about her


After giving a speech on climate change in New York last Tuesday, Greta seems to have caught the attention of a famous Australian psychologist, Dr Carr-Gregg who thinks that a child should not be used as a ‘political props’.

Dr Carr-Gregg said: ‘I worry about her going the same as child TV stars, that they just burn out and potentially have a disastrous psychological outcome'[…]. He also added: ‘She’s now put herself at the centre of worldwide either Greta-phobia or Greta-mania and I don’t think any 16-year-old girl should be’.

He is concerned that the enormous pressure on his shoulders may end up causing him unnecessary stress and depression.

3. She has had considerable influence on the world at just 16.

Greta Thunberg | Facebook

The Time Magazine deemed her one of the 100 most influential people in 2019. After all, Thunberg addressed a United Nations summit at just 15, and at 16 spoke to the UN again during the Climate Action Summit, taking place in New York City. She even made the cover of the Time Magazine in May 2019.

4. Greta Thunberg is vegan and has convinced her family to be too.

Greta Thunberg | Facebook

As she learned about climate change, Thunberg became obsessed with reducing her carbon footprint. One efficient way to do that is becoming vegan since livestock is responsible for more carbon emissions than all types of transportation combined together. She has convinced her parents to become vegan as well.

5. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

H.Hanschke | Picture Alliance

Following the footsteps of Malala Yousafzai, who was a teenager when she won this great honour, Greta Thunberg could be the next winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. With the climate crisis being at the forefront of our minds this year, it would be extremely surprising if she didn’t win the award.

6. She has a sister who is also famous in Sweden.

Malou Efter Tio | YouTube

Beata Ernman Thunberg is two years younger than Greta. She has followed the footsteps of their mother, building a singing career. Like Greta, she has Asperger’s syndrome and OCD, and she is also diagnosed with ADHD.

7. She met the Pope


Greta also met with the Pope prior to the great march against climate change. She was able to give him a handshake and invited him to join the climate strike.

We have to give credit where credit is due. Greta is an incredible human and her young age and Asperger’s syndrome makes her all the more impressive.

8. How did she gain attention?

Greta Thunberg | Facebook

Greta Thunberg came to the spotlight in 2018, when she began to be noticed every Friday outside the Swedish parliament, protesting the lack of actions in the face of climate change. Neither her parents nor her teachers supported her school strike every Friday at the time.

9. “Fridays for Future”

FridaysForFuture Deutschland | Flickr

Soon though, she was joined with other students and they formed the school strike movement which spread across Sweden and the world under the name “Fridays for Future.” To this day, school strikes are organized every Friday in the world.

10. She learned about climate change when she was 8.

Greta Thunberg | Facebook

At the time, she didn’t understand how humans could change the Earth’s climate while not caring and not doing anything about it. She thought it should be our number one preoccupation, as if a world war was going on.

11. She was subsequently very ill when she was 11.

Anders Hellberg | Wikimedia Commons

Greta Thunberg literally fell into depression, not eating nor talking for months. Her preoccupations with climate change were just so big so early on that she became depressed about the lack of response on the parts of the authorities and people in general.

12. Meghan and Harry follow her on Instagram


If you didn’t know already, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who are known for their modern approach to royalty and breaking some rules, have created an Instagram account. Those claiming that they have no business being in social media should know that they are using it for a good cause.

They are resorting to Instagram to raise awareness for global issues and even started following Greta’s account.

13. Being on the autism spectrum helps her being a great activist.

European Parliament | Flickr

From her own words, she sees almost everything in black and white; in other words, she’s not very nuanced. For her, there is no grey area when it comes to survival. “Either we go on as a civilization, or we don’t. We have to change.” She has also said she’s not good at lying, and she doesn’t enjoy “participating in the social game that the rest of you seem to be so fond of.” As an activist, that has helped her to protest restlessly, spreading awareness about the global climate change crisis.

14. Her mother participated in Eurovision


Greta’s mother Malena is a well-known opera singer in Sweden. She even represented her country in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009 and showed great energy.

Her mom, however, had to trade being an opera singer for doing musicals after she decided to stop flying since she could not travel as easily to perform.

15. The “Greta Thunberg effect” is real.

Greta Thunberg | Facebook

Since she gained visibility, numerous world leaders have been touched by her speeches and made changes to their environmental policies. In Sweden, following her condemnation of air travel, domestic train travels have increased in popularity by 8% while domestic flights’ popularity decreased. Furthermore, books on climate change targeted to children have boomed this year.

16. She has sailed to North America instead of taking the plane.

Greta Thunberg | Facebook

In lieu of taking the plane to address the UN in NYC, Thunberg chose to sail across the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to travel while emitting zero emissions. The teenager has chosen to ban air travel completely, which means she only travels by boat, train or public transit.

17. Greta Thunberg was born in a privileged environment.

Greta Thunberg | Twitter

The teenager was not born in an outrageously wealthy family, but almost. Her mother, Malena Ernman, is a distinguished opera singer that has represented Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest. Her father, Svante Thunberg, is an actor, and her paternal grandfather is an actor and a director.

18. Many celebs support her


Multiple celebrities have expressed their support towards Greta on social media, have reposted her speech or expressed how much they admire her.

It is great to see the support from personalities such as Anne Hathaway, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra and more although we doubt that the strong and determined young woman will feel star-struck and will need recovery after reading all those comments.

19. She is a published author.

Anders Hellberg

Greta Thunberg published in 2019 No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, which is a collection of her speeches so far. She will not keep any of the proceeds and instead will donate them to charity.

20. She has inspired artists.


In addition to inspiring people to act against global warming and change their habits, Greta Thunberg also influenced numerous artists across the globe. In Bristol, UK, Jody Thomas made a gigantic mural of her, which took 8 days to finish due to its considerable size—over 50 feet high.