Jakarta is sinking. This is not statistics or predictions it is happening, now. Jakarta’s precarious position is thanks to a combination of two factors – rising global sea levels and land subsidence as underground water supplies have been drained away to meet water needs. Earlier this year, Indonesia announced its plans to move the capital city away from Jakarta.

When Greta Thunberg wakes up, her thoughts go to an issue impacting every single person on Earth, but it’s a problem not given nearly enough thought by the billions inhabiting it. Her Skolstrejk för Klimatet, protest is shining a light on the most important issue of our time. The future of work depends on our ability to change how we work – it is not too late to change and this is why the force for good Greta Thunberg is our first person of the year. 

Thunberg first heard about climate change when she was a third grader, but she had trouble grasping the concept. If we needed to turn off lights, save water, and conserve food to keep from changing the climate, why wouldn’t everyone be doing it? Why wouldn’t everyone be talking about it? Why wasn’t it a bigger deal? These were the questions that Thunberg couldn’t get out of her head, and it lit a fire in her heart and mind to create change herself…even if no one else was doing it. 

Advocacy starts at home

Thunberg became so severely impacted by the impending climate issues that it became a factor in her diagnosis with depression just a few years later. Her depression became so severe that she stopped going to school and stayed home with her parents. She told them about her climate change concerns, and while it didn’t fix anything, it certainly made her feel better to get it out in the open. 

Yet, Thunberg didn’t just stop at getting it out there. That wasn’t good enough. She learned that she had the ability to create real change in her own life and the lives of others through actions that contributed to the reversal of climate change. She hyper-focused on the topic—an ability she attributes to her autism—and researched everything there was to know. and convinced her family to stop eating meat and flying on airplanes.

While most of us couldn’t imagine our lives without the occasional burger, grilled chicken on our salad or flight to see family during the holidays, Thunberg made moves to reduce waste and pollution in a tangible way. Her parents – Svante Thunberg, an actor, and Malena Ernman, an opera singer -followed suit. They stopped eating meat and flying—the latter of which became detrimental to the career of an international actor like her father. They installed solar batteries and created a family vegetable garden. The family eliminated their use of a non-electric car and now ride bikes whenever possible. While they still have an electric car, its use is reserved for special occasions only. 

Thunberg’s biggest passion was support at home and it thrived. It expanded to the outside world, and while Sweden is known to have some of the best climate change legislation in the world, sometimes the best isn’t good enough. 

Being “good” at climate change is all relative

Despite the fact that Sweden is thought to be one of the best in the world regarding climate change initiatives, 4th according to the Climate Change Performance Index, Thunberg sees immense room for improvement. And, she’s certainly not one to stay at home while it’s happening. 

In September 2018, Thunberg became a well-known face outside the parliament building in Stockholm as she would visit every day to advocate for the change that she believes parliament is failing to implement. This means that she was striking every single day – during school hours no less. Her country may have the “best” climate change plan until the year 2050, but it didn’t go beyond that and that was problematic for Thunberg. 

Although politics didn’t start out being the most important part of her goal, she now sees how what’s happening in the Swedish parliament as playing a crucial impact on the environment. The politics that prevent climate change may not exist currently, but Thunberg is on a mission to ensure that they will soon…even if it requires her continual protests & speaking out. Because come hell or high water, this activist knows how to get it done.