Activist Greta Thunberg it seems was destined to make a name for herself on the world stage and to have an impact on environmental and humanitarian issues.
Greta’s mother Malena Ernman, earned minor celebrity status after winning the Swedish version of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009. Her father, Svante Thunberg, is an actor and is named after Svante Arrhenius.
The two certainly appear to share an interest in the environment.
The man who ‘discovered’ Global Warming
Arrhenius was the first scientist to identify through physical chemistry the extent to which increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide result in increasing surface temperature for the Earth.
Born at Vik Castle in Sweden’s Uppsala municipality, Arrhenius seems to have been an interesting character.
It’s believed that there’s a strong possibility that he married into the family from his mother’s side; incestual relationships not being uncommon especially among old noble bloodlines.
He later became interested in eugenics and sat on the board for the Swedish Society for Racial Hygiene. Their agenda included birth control, which was illegal at that time.
Eugenics, according to the online dictionary, is ‘the study of how to arrange reproduction within a human population to increase the occurrence of heritable characteristics regarded as desirable.’
Awarded himself a Nobel prize
At the start of the 20th century, Svante Arrhenius was involved in the founding of the Nobel Institute. Despite strong opposition, he was elected as a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1901.
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He was allegedly involved in awarding friends (Jacobus van ‘t Hoff, Wilhelm Ostwald, and Theodore Richards) with Nobel Prizes while declining to honor those he didn’t get on with.
In 1903 he went a step further and influenced his own awarding of a Nobel Prize.
It’s a reminder that although science is supposed to be nonsubjective, human interference can sometimes cloud the subject.
Greta Thunberg was nominated for the 2019 Nobel Prize but did not win. She has been nominated for the 2020 Nobel Prize and was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019.