GRETA THUNBERG

 

She was only a 15 year old girl, with Asperger syndrome, that day back in August 20, 2018. It was Friday and she was sitting alone outside Swedish parliament, holding a placard saying she was school striking for climate justice. The issue was an obsession. She couldn't understand how people could carry on with their lives when the planet was dying. There were Sweden elections to come and Greta thought this was the best way to get politicians attention.

One year later, every Friday around the globe, millions of people from all ages would demonstrate on the streets, claiming for climate action, following Greta's example. And she has been invited everywhere to deliver speeches on the subject, from the US Congress, to Davos Economic Forum, or the UN Climate Change Summit.

After Greta Thunberg, no one can now ignore the environment cause. Let's talk about how a single person's actions can produce a big change in the world, shall we?

STEPHEN HAWKING

 

He was one of the greatests scientist of our age. His findings and studying were pivotal to our understanding today of the mysteries of the Universe.

At the age 17 he was accepted at Oxford University, United Kingdom, to study Physics. He found his first year of studies very boring and later on he decided to master in the very unknown field of Cosmology. 

Not only he developed a broad work on the origin of the Universe and black holes - that shaped how we look at these concepts, nowadays - he also made sure that everyone, and not just scholars, understood his language. His bestseller book - A Brief History of Time - is a must read for everyone.

But the most inspirational thing is that he did all that in an electric wheelchair. At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and doctors gave him only a couple of years to live. Well, he was 76 when he died in 2018, 55 years after his diagnosis. That's superhero stuff.

ELON MUSK

 

He is the person behind SpaceX, Solar City and Tesla Motors. His name should come in dictionaries as a synonym of "one capable of turning wildest dreams into reality".

Cofounder of Paypal - that he later sold to eBay - he decided to move to the car business, creating Tesla. Being a firm supporter of sustainable energy use, in a world of fossil fuel, he made electric cars look sexy, despite all the odds. The same motivations made him bet on Solar City.

As for SpaceX, a rocket company which ultimate goal is having people colonizing Mars, let's say that - although it sounds pretty wild, they have already a respectable list of goals achieved, like successfully recover a spacecraft from Earth's orbit, and having the first commercial vehicle to attach to the International Space Station.

And if you think SpaceX is the craziest this can get, let's talk about Hyperloop, a technology that promises to make people travel long distances in minutes, in pressurized pipes underground. Musk says he will build it if no one else does it.

You love him already, don't you?

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

 

He is the current UN Secretary General with a thing for the environment, children's rights and refugees.

Guterres has dedicated great part of his career to the refugees' cause. He was in his early thirties when we took the presidency of the Commission for Demography, Migrations and Refugees at the Council of Europe. Twenty years later, in 2005, he was appointed UN High Commissioner for Refugees, a role he took for ten years before becoming Secretary General.

He made sure the United Nations did everything possible to help migrants and moving people, leading the organization's response to major crisis like the ones in Syria, Ukraine or Gaza.

Guterres was also the Prime Minister of his home country, Portugal, between 1995 and 2002. During that period his wife died of cancer. Before that, she was receiving treatment in London and he would fly there every weekend, returning fresh to his office Monday morning for his country duties. He had two young children back then and he took every moment he could to spend time with them. What an incredible strong person!

MARGRETHE VESTAGER

 

She got everyone talking about market abuse, data protection, AI ethics and mobile networks. But for good reasons. As EU Commissioner, she stood tall against big tech companies who were acting untransparent.

Under her term in Brussels, Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon payed billions in fines for not respecting data protections, citizens' privacy and fair competition. That's why some say she is Silicon Valley biggest fear.
But big techs shouldn't make their fortune at our expenses at any cost, should they? So, thank you, Margrethe Vestager, for standing for our rights and not be afraid of them.