Congratulations to Greta Thunberg, the 16-year old Swedish climate activist, who was named as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2019. Time magazine is not what it once was, now in the new digital media age, but its annual recognition is still an interesting subject and news event all by itself. Unfortunately, by choosing Ms. Thunberg as the latest recipient, her exploitation by grown-ups continues.

In most years, Time’s person of the year was given to the biggest newsmaker, or the individual who had the largest impact, for good or ill. That is why every president since Franklin Roosevelt—himself a three-time recipient—has been named.

Ms. Thunberg was a newsmaker and her impact is certainly debatable.  Still, if Time decided to annually designate such an individual strictly on such criteria, the president of the United States would be named almost every year, so some leeway is warranted.

Ms. Thunberg joins an historic list of recipients going back to 1927, when Time began its annual distinction. Dozens of famous people have been name by Time, starting with Charles Lindbergh, who made the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean that year, a remarkable feat in its day.

Consistent with the newsmaker or impact theme, Time has not shied from naming evil dictators as man of the year, including Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, a two-time recipient; Adolf Hitler; and the Ayatollah Khomeini, who led a revolutionary takeover of Iran in 1979.

Greta Thunberg is by far the youngest recipient of Time’s annual recognition, as she is nine years junior to 25-year old Charles Lindbergh. But what did Ms. Thunberg do, exactly? And how much of a newsmaker was she?

Ms. Thunberg crossed the Atlantic Ocean by sailing on a yacht, rather than what was basically a flying gas tank with wings and an engine that “Lucky Lindy” used nearly a century before. Thunberg was attempting to make a point of using carbon free means to travel to New York for the United Nation’s conference on climate change, except that her round-trip was hardly energy efficient or carbon neutral.

Upon arrival, she was given a high-profile speaking role at the U.N. General Assembly. As a teenager, Greta was claiming representation of the future and she demanded action by the world body to combat what she believes is a warming planet from higher carbon emissions; that is, man-made “climate change.”

As I have written previously, I believe Greta Thunberg is a victim of exploitation by adults with a political agenda, and who admonish about climate change as a means to promote that agenda. One of the results is her ongoing unhappiness and acrimony. Very few photos of this young lady show her smiling (we found one for this post).  The happy warrior she is not, which is sad to observe, and symbolic of the larger harmful impact that climate alarmism is having on children.

Ms. Thunberg continues to be exploited, with Time magazine being the latest, most sensational example. Time’s editors have long been crying wolf about climate change. In a periodic departure from naming a person of the year, the magazine’s annual recognition for 1988 went to the endangered “Planet of the Year.”

More than three decades ago, global warmists, including Time’s editors, were sounding the alarm about the Earth’s demise. It turns out the climate warnings back then have not lived up to their computer model predictions, which ought to be a lesson for the future, rather than the ongoing propaganda about an existential threat to the Earth in another 30 years.

The planet has its problems, but it remains intact and is very much livable, even with 2 billion people added in the last three decades. Meanwhile, the average global temperature has been relatively stable for more than twenty years; or, by some measures, for the last 40 years.

Still, Time’s crusade continues by joining the fray of those who are exploiting the teenager, Greta Thunberg, whom they know most would eschew from debating and criticizing on the issue of climate change. She’s not the first young person to be used to advance a political agenda, as students across the country are encouraged to protest as a result of an imbalanced education about the climate.

Rather than exploiting or debating children, grown-ups should teach them the facts and history of climate, including all sides of the debate. Time magazine, like so many mainstream news outlets, has become more than reporting news; it has a political agenda, with Greta Thunberg as the latest poster child being used to push that agenda.


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  • Peter Murphy is Senior Fellow at CFACT. He has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Governor George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26 Website: