Greta Thunberg named Time’s 2019 Person of the Year
Greta Thunberg, a 16-year old Swedish teen who became a globally recognized face for her fight against climate change, has been named Time’s Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.
There is something peculiar about the amount, or should I say, endless coverage of Greta Thunberg’s crusade to save the planet and the total disinterest the media has in similar stories of activists who propose actual solutions. While I can admire Greta’s tenacious spirit and devotion to what is certainly a noble cause. It seems as though the media’s divise nature these days and the general public’s proclivity for doom and gloom news stories has left other activists high and dry.
What’s worse still is that it appears as though young environmental activists who are proposing tangible and viable solutions are overlooked. Who wants a solution to a catastrophic problem? Sure it’s good for the world and the preservation of the human race, but does it get clicks. If it bleeds it leads, isn’t that the old maxim of journalism?
If you want to go viral nowadays in a positive sense, you better be a cat, or a K-Pop star with funny dance moves. Otherwise keep it grim, we might have been wrong about Y2K but this time it’s all over for real.
Case and point.
Boyan Slat created and ocean cleanup system at the age of 16, the same age Greta Thunberg is now. Sure, he got some press, but far less for actually being a child prodigy. Thunberg seems like her heart is in the right place and all, but unless she came up with an actual invention or new, improved climate model why should the world listen to what she has to say?
Cyber hackers have something for every target on their Christmas list as the new Star Wars movie, Taylor Swift fandom and fascination over climate activist Greta Thunberg are being exploited to steal data and even mine bitcoin from your computer.
Phishing email scams featuring Thunberg are harbouring the Emotet banking Trojan virus, according to cybersecurity firm Proofpoint.
First identified in 2014, Emotet is designed to pilfer sensitive financial information from infected computer systems.
Proofpoint also provides an example of the email containing the Thunberg Emotet with the following description.
“(It) combines the following four elements: renowned Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg; Christmas holidays; environmental awareness and activism; Time Magazine’s recent naming of Thunberg as their ‘Person of the Year.’”
Proofpoint says the Emotet virus “recently made a specific comeback” in 2019 and accounted for 12 percent of malicious emails in the third quarter (July-Aug).
And in a different kind of scam that secretly uses your computer’s operating power, hackers behind the cryptocurrency-mining botnet Mykingz are hiding EXE malware in a JPEG of American pop singer Taylor Swift.
Also known as Hexmen or DarkCloud, those behind MyKingz target Windows systems with their mining apps that once infected, can harness a device’s resources to surreptitiously mine bitcoin.
According to ZDNet, masking malicious EXE files inside of an image can fool security systems of larger networks where proliferation of the botnets can maximize their effectiveness.
And a recent PC Magazine story reports that cybercriminals have stooped to using the new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker movie to trick fans into relinquishing credit card information.
Antivirus provider Kaspersky Lab has already uncovered more than 30 fake websites and social media profiles purporting to be official Star Wars film accounts offering free tickets or online streaming of the film in exchange for credit card registration.
But protecting your own personal information when engaging with point-of-contact emails or alluring websites, offers limited security assurance in this age of instant communication and data transfer.
According to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, more than 28 million Canadians had their personal information exposed following 680 security hacks at Canadian banks, airlines and telecommunications firms in 2019.
'We're all going to die': Toronto students, 7 and 8, shown climate change doomsday clock, Greta Thunberg speech
An Etobicoke mother is upset that seven-and eight-year-old kids were shown a library presentation consisting of an emotional speech by child climate activist Greta Thunberg and a carbon clock predicting humans have eight years left to act before the point of no return for saving humanity from climate change.
During the presentation at least one child shouted out something to the effect of “We’re all going to die!” or “I don’t want to die!” in response to a clock showing two scenarios of global temperatures rising above the point of no return, the direr one showing a clock ticking down with only eight years left on it.
The bleak message throughout the presentation and the outburst about death upset some of the children, according to Lejla Blazevic, the mother of an eight-year-old grade three student who came home distressed after she left the presentation thinking she only had eight more years to live.
The Greta Thunberg speech played to the children was the famous one from when she spoke at the UN Climate Action Summit in September, rising to international superstardom. Blazevic is still wondering why the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) included such an emotionally charged in a presentation given to young children.
“My message is, we’ll be watching you,” says Thunberg near the start of her viral speech, addressing those in power. “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams, and my childhood with your empty words. And yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying,” Thunberg says in the speech shown to the kids at the elementary school in Etobicoke, the western part of Toronto.
The only other part of the presentation was a popular climate change carbon clock that counts down the time certain climate scientists predict humans have left before the effects of increased carbon in the atmosphere are irreversible.
The Post Millennial was provided audio recordings of three meetings, a phone call with the superintendent and emails between Blazevic and TDSB representatives. Blazevic requested the meetings after her daughter came home distraught from seeing the presentation at Elmbank Junior Middle Academy.
“She was shocked. She was like, ‘Mommy! They told us today that we are going to die in eight years.’ She was totally shocked,” said Blazevic.
Before her first meeting with school staff, the librarian sent Blazevic an email explaining the presentation he gave to the children.
“The theme for ECO initiatives at the TDSB this year is ‘Students as Agents of Change’. Greta was 15 at the time she gave the speech. The “message” of her speech for our students was that they can make a difference and the future of our planet concerns our children most directly.
“It is our intention to use the leadership and example of Greta to spur discussion and “action” on climate change. Ms. Davis’ class will be analyzing the data referenced and discussing dissenting opinions and eventually some of the changes and solutions that are on the horizon. BTW, our own Prime Minister has yet to have the audience Greta did.
“It was not the intention to cause distress in our students. Climate change issues are facing all of us. Joylea’s concerns and fears are the very reason we need to respond. I encourage parents to discuss climate change issues. As adults, we all need to reflect on the impact our current life style choices will have on future generations.”Part of an email the librarian sent to Blazevic.
At the first meeting, the librarian further explained the reason behind showing a de facto doomsday clock.
“Well the purpose of the clock is to give a sense–there’s apparently–the scientists say there’s a C02 budget and there are two scenarios. One is 1.5 degrees of warming and the other is two degrees of warming. Two degrees of warming says that our CO2 budget is 25 years and the 1.5 degree says it’s eight years,” said librarian Timothy Du Vernet at the first meeting.
“Even though Greta is a child, here she is talking at the UN to adults, a child can make change–that was our main focus,” teacher Suzanne Petillot said at the first meeting Blazevic had with the school. Petillot explained their reasoning for showing the children the video. Petillot also told Blazevic that only one child said they were all going to die and she stepped in right away saying, “No, we are not.”
“My concern, everyone’s concern, and part of her role is mental health, so if there’s something–the unfortunate reality is, that whether it’s this video or another video, the eco elements are everywhere,” Du Vernet explained to Blazevic on why they did the presentation.
“So I think my concern at this point is … my daughter came home, she said she was taught at school that she was going to die. And she said that many of the other children in the class also exclaimed that ‘I don’t want to die.’ I think that this might of been a traumatic situation for all the children. I think we all are aware that the climate change information, especially when given to very young children such as eight- and seven-year-olds, is shown to cause a lot of depression in children, PTSD and even suicide. So I think it’s really important that I get to the bottom of what happened,” said Blazevic said to her daughter’s teacher, librarian and principal.
The teacher and librarian said the reaction from many of the other children was positive.
“I had another student that came up to me and she was really excited about this as well. She participated so much,” said Petillot in the meeting.
“Children were shaking and children were saying, ‘I don’t want to die,'” Blazevic said, retelling her daughter’s version of events.
“We were talking about climate change. We talked about how Greta is a young child … she’s been a role model for others, especially for adults in powerful positions. And even though you are kids, you too can make a change,” said Petillot shortly after in the meeting.
“We went to a workshop yesterday, where clearly the message to us was, that we need to be changing our message, and the message is not just a little about the facts, but also what we can do, the hope we can have in making a difference,” Du Vernet further explained on how they were changing the climate change lessons for young children.
“It’s very current, students walking out of school on strike for the earth. And this is happening, and it’s still going to continue to happen. So this is another reason why, it’s in the news. It’s in the news almost every day, about children walking out for the earth,” said Petillot, explaining why they chose to show Thunberg’s speech.
When Blazevic asked if the staff think it’s good or bad, the principal stepped in.
“It’s happening and current. We can’t decide good or bad, but, is it effective? Is it something having students use their voice to say to adults… ‘You guys need to do something different and we’re not happy that in 30 years the worlds going to be…”
“We’re going to suffer the consequences,” Petillot jumped in.
“We want our students to make informed decisions. And so the only way they can make informed decisions is by having information,” Du Vernet added.
“So it can be a doom and gloom scenario, especially for kids ages eight through ten, these are formative years,” Blazevic responded.
The TDSB’s curriculum also includes a theme of “Students as Agents of Change” in which teachers promote children getting active in what they believe in.
Blazevic is concerned that this theme may be inappropriate for young children who are being taught what to believe and to act on those beliefs, despite lacking critical thinking skills needed to decide for themselves.
“The issue with the presentation is that the children were traumatized. They were told they were going to die in eight years. Even if it [was a misunderstanding], because of their reaction [the clock] told them there is something wrong,” said Blazevic told The Post Millennial. “It’s not developmentally appropriate for a grade two-three class.”
“They did have a clock, but it wasn’t a countdown to the end of the earth or anything like that. What it was, I’ve seen this all over the place, is that it was a countdown clock of ‘We might be reaching the point where can no longer turn things around,'” said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird in a phone interview with The Post Millennial.
“So then you have a boy that yells out something like, ‘We’re all going to die.’ It was said in jest, the teacher also immediately jumped on that and said, ‘No, that’s not the case.’ We followed up with that kid’s mom, and they weren’t worried,” said Bird. “‘We also followed up with the rest of the class so they knew that wasn’t the case, and no one seemed to get the sense that that was the case.”
Asked about the TDSB’s climate change curriculum, and the suggestion they’re promoting children to become climate activists, Bird said that is not the school board’s goal.
“We encourage our students to have their voices be heard. So, you know, if that’s activism then I guess that is, but we’re not trying to change them into climate change activist at all. If you believe strongly about something, whether it be the environment or something else, talk about it. You can take part, you can do things to help the environment, to help other issues that you think are important, that kind of thing,” said Bird.
“Everyone was talking about [climate change] at the time, but of course we aren’t going to do any doom and gloom kind of presentation that was suggested, we just wouldn’t do that,” said Bird.
“At the second meeting the principal actually admitted, he said, ‘If I could take that clock back I would’ve done it,'” said Lejla Blazevic.
Blazevic also says the school officials’ story changed several times.
“At the third meeting [the principal] wanted to change that. He said, “Actually, November 4 was the second time I spoke to the child. I spoke to the child for the first time before. The teachers and the librarian, we all knew who this one child was before the first meeting.'”
Blazevic says the school staff first said they learned later who the child was because of a pattern of behaviour.
“The reason why I’m here is because something doesn’t make sense. If you say this child has said this before, and when I came to the meeting, which was two weeks after the actual event, the teacher still didn’t know who that one child was. And you’re telling me the child has had a habit of saying this even before the presentation,” Blazevic said at the third meeting.
“Well I did say, he has said that before. He has said, “I’m going to die” before, he’s said, ‘Oh my God, we’re all going to die.’ He’s said that before. Which is what led the teacher to think that that was the child who had said it,” said Principal Michael George of Elmbank Junior Middle Academy.
“The teacher spoke to the class again as a follow-up and spoke to the student specifically.”
Blazevic’s says she believes her daughter’s version of events, that many of the kids said they didn’t want to die when presented with the countdown clock.
“My daughter is very clear on what happened. The majority of the class yelled out “I don’t want to die” … I spoke to a little seven-year-old girl from her classroom and she nodded her head, and she said, ‘I don’t mind dying soon.’ And me and her father were shocked, we looked at her, and she said “because that means I’m not going to get married.” So what I know 100 percent is what my daughter is telling me, who is an excellent student,” said Blazevic.
“She is very good,” George concurred. Blazevic says her daughter is the top student in her class.
“The teachers that were there … are quite sure that there was the one, maybe the two students who had said that,” George said.
Blazevic also had a phone conversation with the superintendent.
TDSB superintendentLorraine Linton told the mother that the school’s staff were going to have a celebration to flip the script on the previous stark presentation.
“The conversation shouldn’t be at any point, ‘We’re going to die in a few years.’ … Somehow this turned into somebody yelling out, ‘We’re all going to die,’ and then everybody had to address it,” Linton said in the conversation with Blazevic.
Linton also explained the school staff were working with the TDSB ECO school department to flip the script.
“The children that I spoke to, that were shown this presentation, they’re all in unison saying it was never brought up again, it was never reflected on, it was never clarified. They’re in unison all saying that,” said Blazevic in the phone conversation with the superintendent. “We don’t know how many children went home with this message, it could’ve been all of these classes that were shown this presentation.”
“They never asked the children what your voice is,” said Blazevic in a phone interview with The Post Millennial. “Instead, they are telling the children the voice they need to have and this voice you can share.”
Poor Greta Thunberg. The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist renowned for skipping school and accusing world leaders of “doing nothing,” allegedly had to travel in a little less comfort than what she is used to on her way home from the UN Climate Conference in Madrid and tweeted about it:
“Traveling on overcrowded trains through Germany. And I’m finally on my way home!”
Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s state railway company, however, had this to say:
“Dear #Greta, thank you for supporting our railway in the fight against climate change! We are happy that you travelled with us in the ICE 174. And that with 100 percent eco electricity. It would have been even better if you had also mentioned how friendly and competent the team looked after you in your seat in First Class.”
This seems to suggest that Thunberg is willing to bend the truth to suit her agenda, although, the day after—after a backlash on Twitter—she made clear that she had only been on the floor for part of her journey, and that overcrowded trains were in fact a “great sign because that means that the demand for train travel is high!”
Although many wished Greta a good journey home, there was plenty of criticism, too, not just directed towards the activist, but towards Deutsche Bahn for poor service, and for disclosing that she had indeed been travelling with them (even if Greta had tweeted about her journey before DB replied to her on Twitter).
This stunt has been tried before. Three years ago, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK Labour Party who lost the election to Boris Johnson and the Conservatives last week, claimed that the train he was travelling on was overcrowded and was shown sitting on the floor of the carriage, making a political point about alleged under-funding and mismanagement of the British railways, arguing they needed to be re-nationalized.
Yet later he was found to have passed through an almost empty carriage, where he could have chosen a comfortable seat with a view and a table if he had so wished, before he made the video on the floor of the corridor instead.
Like Corbyn, Thunberg seems to thrive on pointing out faults in our society, and her mission is to show that we need to “change the system.” And like so many angry, young protesters before her, “everything” is wrong—she even admits to this in her latest op-ed, co-signed by Luisa Neubauer and Angela Valenzuela:
“…the climate crisis is not just about the environment. It is a crisis of human rights, of justice, and of political will. Colonial, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression have created and fueled it. We need to dismantle them all. Our political leaders can no longer shirk their responsibilities.”
Being economical with the truth, no matter what your intentions are, tends to come back and bite you. If she wants to keep sympathy for her cause strong, perhaps her team of PR consultants should make sure she doesn’t exaggerate her plight. After all, most 16-year-olds can only dream of travelling the world on state-of-the-art yachts and in first-class train carriages while skipping school for months at a time.