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Greta Thunberg Named TIME's Person of the Year

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On Wednesday, TIME named climate activist and autism advocate Greta Thunberg its “Person of the Year” for 2019. Thunberg, who is 16 and on the autism spectrum, is the youngest person to be recognized.

Thunberg first learned about climate change when she was 9 years old and has been researching it ever since. Within 16 months of starting her “School Strike for Climate,” she’s addressed leaders at the U.N., met world leaders and figures such as President Trump and the Pope, and rallied 4 million people to join the global climate strike.

In its piece about Thunberg, TIME credited her autism diagnosis as an asset in her advocacy:

She has Asperger’s syndrome, which means she doesn’t operate on the same emotional register as many of the people she meets. She dislikes crowds; ignores small talk; and speaks in direct, uncomplicated sentences. She cannot be flattered or distracted. She is not impressed by other people’s celebrity, nor does she seem to have interest in her own growing fame. But these very qualities have helped make her a global sensation.

Thunberg also credits her autism in helping her develop into the powerful person she is. “Without my diagnosis, I would never have started school striking. Because then I would have been like everyone else,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Autism Awareness Day.

This isn’t the first honor bestowed on Thunberg. She’s been named “Swedish Person of the Year,” received Amnesty International’s “Ambassador of Conscience” award and many others. She was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in April, though she did not win.

TIME has named a person, or people, of the year since 1927. Previous awardees include U.S. presidents, world leaders, those who spoke out about sexual assault in 2017, Mark Zuckerberg and more.

Image via TIME magazine.

Originally published: December 11, 2019
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