23 Questions for Greta Thunberg, 19th-Century Gold Miner and Time Traveler

Here, Greta Thunberg in the current day and her again in 1898.
Photo: Getty/University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, [HEG467]

Some might say that individuals like Greta Thunberg, the teen climate activist from Sweden, are one of a kind. Well, then, tell me what to make of this archived image showing a Thunberg look-alike in the year 1898. If there is only one blessed Thunberg, what the hell is she doing in 19th-century Yukon mining gold?

That is, of course, what many are asking after a tweet calling Thunberg a time traveler from the future here to save us went viral. And I’m kinda into it. The similarities are uncanny: They both even rock the signature Thunberg braid! And look, Thunberg’s done a hell of a lot for a 16- year old. She not only helped make “climate strike” and “climate emergency” words of the year, she also took this form of protest global to help elevate the urgency of the climate crisis. She won the International Children’s Peace Prize Wednesday, and that comes after a Nobel Peace Prize nomination that she didn’t win—which was for the best—and declining another award last month.

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Thunberg is truly remarkable, so who’s to say she’s not a time traveler? She handles the climate crisis with more maturity than most adults I know. Maybe that’s no coincidence, after all. She sits before the United Nations with the kind of poise I still lack at 26. And she’s supposed to be 10 years younger than me?! No way. These conspiracy theorists may be onto something, man. Time-traveling is supposed to delay aging because it involves outer space, right?

I put together a list of questions for Thunberg if she is, in fact, a 19th-century gold miner and time traveler. Earther will update if this “teen” (yeah, right) comes back with some answers.

  1. So, wait, are you actually a teen?
  2. How does time travel even work?
  3. Do your parents time travel with you?
  4. Are you even still a child?
  5. Is your time-traveling machine carbon-free?
  6. How can we believe anything you say now that we know we’ve been lied to?!
  7. Were you actually mining gold in this photo? Or was it… coal?!?
  8. Coal mining did begin in this area in the 19th century. Could the photographer have been mistaken?
  9. Exactly how much coal did you mine, Greta?!
  10. Okay, let me chill. You’re a goddamn climate hero. You wouldn’t be mining coal… unless you still didn’t know it fueled climate change! Right?
  11. Speaking of, when did you discover climate change would become the biggest threat to humanity?
  12. But, wait, how the fuck did you wind up working in gold mines? Child labor is a stain on human history, but so is climate change, so I guess people have always sucked.
  13. Actually, have people always sucked?
  14. Have you been to the future?
  15. Do we still suck there?
  16. Does Twitter still exist? Please tell me no.
  17. Does U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez become president? Please tell me yes.
  18. Can you still travel to the past?
  19. If so, would you mind visiting the 1970s to stop oil companies like Exxon from hiding their climate science and fueling the climate denial machine that still has the American public brainwashed?
  20. Please?
  21. How about going back to the start of the Industrial Revolution to let everyone know about the greenhouse effect?
  22. Too far? How about 2016 to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president of the United States and killing our climate policies?
  23. On second thought, do you mind never time-traveling again? I think the current timeline needs you if we’re actually going to solve this mess.
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About the author

Yessenia Funes

I mostly write about how environmental policy and climate change intersect with race and class though I occasionally write about animals, science, and art, too. We all need an escape, right?

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