Loons on the loose
2021-02-20 22:49:27 UTC
Greta Thunberg's father has said he thought it was "a bad idea"
for his daughter to take to the "front line" of the battle
against climate change.
Millions of people have been inspired to join the 16-year-old in
raising awareness of environmental issues.
But Svante Thunberg told the BBC he was "not supportive" of his
daughter skipping school for the climate strike.
Mr Thunberg said Greta was much happier since becoming an
activist - but that he worries about the "hate" she faces.
As part of the same broadcast, guest-edited by Greta for Radio
4's Today programme, Sir David Attenborough told her she had
"woken up the world" to climate change.
She called Sir David on Skype from Stockholm in Sweden, where
she lives, and told him how he inspired her activism.
The broadcaster and naturalist told Greta she had "achieved
things that many of us who have been working on the issue for 20
years have failed to do".
He added that the 16-year-old was the "only reason" that climate
change became a key topic in the recent UK general election.
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Greta was nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, after
spearheading a global movement demanding world leaders take
action over climate change. It led to co-ordinated school
strikes across the globe.
She is among five high-profile people taking over the Today
programme as guest editors during the festive period.
The BBC flew presenter Mishal Husain to Sweden to interview the
teenager and her father.
On the decision to fly, Today editor Sarah Sands said: "We just
did not have time for other means of transport. But we met our
cameraman there and the interview between Greta and David
Attenborough was conducted by Skype, which felt the right way
for the two of them to communicate."
Struggle with depression
Speaking to Husain as part of the show, Mr Thunberg said his
daughter had struggled with depression for "three or four years"
before she began her school strike.
"She stopped talking... she stopped going to school," he said.
He added that it was the "ultimate nightmare for a parent" when
Greta began refusing to eat.
To help her get better, Mr Thunberg spent more time with Greta
and her younger sister, Beata, at their home in Sweden. Greta's
mother, opera singer and former Eurovision Song Contest
participant Malena Ernman, cancelled contracts so the whole
family could be together.
The family also sought help from doctors, Mr Thunberg said.
Greta was diagnosed with Asperger's - a form of autism - aged
12, something she has said allows her to "see things from
outside the box".
Over the next few years they began discussing and researching
climate change, with Greta becoming increasingly passionate
about tackling the issue.
As "very active" human rights advocates, Greta accused her
parents of being "huge hypocrites", Mr Thunberg said.
"Greta said: 'Whose human rights are you standing up for?',
since we were not taking this climate issue seriously," he
He said Greta got "energy" from her parents' changes in
behaviour to become more environmentally friendly - such as her
mother choosing not to travel by aeroplane and her father
Mr Thunberg has also accompanied his daughter on her sailing
expeditions to UN climate summits in New York and Madrid. Greta
refuses to travel by air because of its environmental impact.
"I did all these things, I knew they were the right thing to
do... but I didn't do it to save the climate, I did it to save
my child," Mr Thunberg said.
"I have two daughters and to be honest they are all that matter
to me. I just want them to be happy," he added.
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Mr Thunberg said Greta has "changed" and become "very happy" as
a result of her activism.
"You think she's not ordinary now because she's special, and
she's very famous, and all these things. But to me she's now an
ordinary child - she can do all the things like other people
can," he said.
"She dances around, she laughs a lot, we have a lot of fun - and
she's in a very good place."
However, since Greta's school strike stunt went viral online, Mr
Thunberg said she has faced abuse from people who "don't want to
change" their lifestyles in order to save the environment.
Greta has said previously that people abuse her for "my looks,
my clothes, my behaviour and my differences".
Her father said he was particularly worried about "the fake
news, all the things that people try to fabricate her - the hate
that that generates".
But he added that his daughter deals with the criticism
"Quite frankly, I don't know how she does it, but she laughs
most of the time. She finds it hilarious."
Mr Thunberg said he hoped things would become "less intense" for
his family in the future and that he thinks Greta "really wants
to go back to school".
He added that as Greta turns 17 soon, she will no longer need to
be accompanied on her travels.
"If she needs me there, I'll try to do it," he said. "But I
think she'll be, more and more, going to do it by herself which