According to her mother Malena Ernman (48), 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg can see CO2 with the naked eye. She writes that in the book ‘Scenes from the heart. Our life for the climate’, which she wrote with her family.
Greta was diagnosed as a child with obsessive-compulsive disorder and Asperger’s syndrome, just like her younger sister Beata. The activist also has a photographic memory. She knows all the capitals by heart and can list all the chemical elements of the periodic table within one minute. In addition, she has another gift according to her mother. “Greta is able to see what other people cannot see,” writes Malena Ernman in the book. “She can see carbon dioxide with the naked eye. She sees how it flows out of chimneys and changes the atmosphere in a landfill.”
Learning about climate change at a young age caused a landslide in Greta’s environment. She was eight years old when she first saw photos and images about the plastics in the oceans on television and at school and heard that global warming is caused by human activity.
“Greta suddenly stopped eating one day after another,” her mother writes. “Because of an eating disorder, we had to count the number of gnocchis in her plate to see if she did get enough. And to eat a third of a banana, it took them an hour.” Greta stopped going to school, cried constantly and only spoke to her parents, sister and one teacher. At the age of eleven, she slipped into depression.
She only crawled out of that valley when she felt heard by her family. Gradually she was able to convince her parents to lower the heating, to stop eating meat. In the meantime, the family lives vegan, they have their own vegetable garden outside the city and they only drive their electric car if they deem it necessary. Her mother also no longer flies – however, an internationally renowned opera singer.
In 2009, Malena Ernman represented Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest, but now she chose a career close to home in Stockholm. Her father Svante, an actor, was named after his great-grandmother’s cousin: Born in 1859, Svante Arrhenius was the first to predict how an increase in CO2 will cause a greenhouse effect.