Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Understanding the Greta Effect

By Mal Fletcher - posted Wednesday, 2 October 2019

In August 2018, a teenager from Stockholm decided it was time for action on climate change.

She had very little to use as leverage in support of her cause, so she went on strike. She refused to attend school, setting up a one-person demonstration outside the Swedish Parliament.

Since that time, Greta Thunberg has found herself at the apex of an international movement. Her recent speech to the United Nations inspired some who watched it and saddened others.


Her calls for climate action have proven provocative but effective in terms of increasing public awareness. Whether they will, in the end, provide more heat than light only time will tell.

Many people struggle to understand the Greta effect. Some, while admiring Ms Thunberg's vision and tenacity, are concerned for her health, especially since her quest became a media phenomenon.

To some degree, I share that concern. Greta's story is front-page material, a narrative of David versus Goliath proportions. However, at the centre of the hurricane sits a young woman.

Popularity and obscurity sit perilously close together in our age of short attention spans and the whimsical group-think of social media.

From a monetary perspective, there are vast profits to be made for alternative energy companies, as traditional fuel providers are vilified. There is potential for corporate manipulation of a cause - and its spokesperson.

None of this, however, is the subject of this article.


Greta Thunberg is now synonymous with Generation Z activism.

The fact that Greta sits, in terms of age and global recognition, near the top of her generation, may help to explain her unusual commitment to the cause - and its impact.

I have been engaged in generational research since the 1980s, partly because generational change is a major factor in shaping the future.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. All

This article was first published by 2020Plus.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

14 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Mal Fletcher

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 14 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy