The prestigious British science journal Nature has named the ten most influential people in science in 2019, and Nature selected 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg as one of them, calling her a “Climate catalyst” and enthusing, “A Swedish teenager brought climate science to the fore as she channelled her generation’s rage.”
Thunberg joined such luminaries as “a physicist building quantum computers, a biologist editing genes in adult humans and a microbiologist fighting Ebola,” as The Daily Mail noted.
Nature wrote, “Scientists have spent decades warning about climate change, but they couldn’t galvanize global attention the way that Thunberg did this year. The Swedish 16-year-old has outshone them — and many are cheering her along.”
Sonia Seneviratne, a climate scientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, who has called Thunberg an “amazing and courageous young woman,” told Nature, “Some may wonder why a teenage girl should get more credit and attention for publicly lamenting a well-known dilemma than most climate researchers get for years of hard work and effort. As scientists, we normally don’t dare to express the truth in such heartfelt simplicity.”
Angela Ledford Anderson, director of the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington D.C., echoed, “Greta has inspired scientists along with activists and policymakers.” She added, “Her mobilization of young people shows the rising generation expects science to inform policy, and may inspire many to become scientists themselves.”
Nature has been cited as one of the most influential science journals in the world; it was first published in 1869. Many scientific breakthroughs were first published in Nature, including the structure of DNA and nuclear fission. In 2007 Nature and the journal Science received the Prince of Asturias Award for Communications and Humanity.
Last Wednesday, Thunberg was named TIME “Person of the Year” on Wednesday, the youngest person in history to receive the honor. TIME wrote:
Thunberg is not a leader of any political party or advocacy group. She is neither the first to sound the alarm about the climate crisis nor the most qualified to fix it. She is not a scientist or a politician. She has no access to traditional levers of influence: she’s not a billionaire or a princess, a pop star or even an adult. She is an ordinary teenage girl who, in summoning the courage to speak truth to power, became the icon of a generation. By clarifying an abstract danger with piercing outrage, Thunberg became the most compelling voice on the most important issue facing the planet.
TIME editor-at-large Anand Giridharadas tweeted, “Among the powerful things about this choice of [Thunberg] is that she doesn’t believe in the fantasy of the ‘win-win.’ She is telling us that real change is costly, real change requires giving things up, the loss of power and privilege, new systems, new ways of life. She isn’t just inspirational, and she isn’t just talking about the planet, as big as that is! She is indicting an entire way of life, and a way of telling ourselves we are making a difference when we are not.”