While dozens of world leaders made their voices heard at the UN Climate Action summit in New York City Monday, it was a 16-year-old's rallying cry that had people — including the president — talking.
Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is known internationally for continuously and courageously working to combat climate change. She was the face of the Global Climate Strikes, inspiring millions of people — more specifically, young people — to rally in more than 150 countries, as CBS News reports. And, she says her Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis is her "superpower."
She told "CBS This Morning" that Asperger's, which is a condition on the autism spectrum that affects social interaction and nonverbal communication, has helped her deliver her message to the masses. "What I want people to do now is to become aware of the crisis that is here," she said.
She's not afraid to speak up for what she believes in, even if she's talking to VIPs of parliaments and governments. "I just know what is right and I want to do what is right," she told CBS. "I want to make sure I have done anything, everything in my power to stop this crisis from happening... I have Asperger's, I'm on the autism spectrum, so I don't really care about social codes that way."
Before her name became internationally recognized, she hadn’t shared about being on the autism spectrum, in part, because she knew “many ignorant people still see it as an ‘illness’, or something negative," she tweeted. Asperger's was officially categorized as a diagnosis on the autism spectrum 2013, according to the Autism Society.
I'm not public about my diagnosis to "hide" behind it, but because I know many ignorant people still see it as an "illness", or something negative. And believe me, my diagnosis has limited me before. >— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) August 31, 2019
“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning!” she wrote, adding the hashtag #aspiepower.
And on Monday, Thunberg used her power to ask leaders to do something about climate change, noting that they needed to know the younger generation is paying attention. She previously told CBS that she wasn't afraid to shame "those [leaders] who need shaming" when it comes to the future of the planet. "We are in the beginning of a mass extinction," she said at the summit. "And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!"
Thunberg has been making bold statements and moves on her journey to being an activist supernova. For example, instead of flying to the UN's Climate Action Summit, she took a zero-emissions yacht across the Atlantic ocean.
"We need people who think outside the box, and who aren't like everyone else," she told CBS. "It can be an advantage."