How to Respond to TIME’s Person of the Year

TIME magazine announced Greta Thunberg, 16, as its person of the year on Wednesday. Thunberg is a Swedish climate activist who gained international attention this year with scathing criticism of world leaders for their inaction on the climate crisis.

"Thunberg has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet—and the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington," Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal wrote.

Since 1927 when Charles Lindbergh was named TIME’s first person of the year, the magazine has featured the most influential person, group, movement or idea of the previous 12 months. Last year, it was "The Guardians," a group of journalists who have been targeted or assaulted for their work. In 2017, it was "The Silence Breakers," the group of people who came forward to report sexual misconduct. President Donald Trump was selected in 2016 and Germany’s Angela Merkel in 2015.

Thunberg becomes the youngest person to be recognized, blossoming on the world stage when she began organizing school strikes and protest marches to call attention to a climate crisis that she says older generations are not taking seriously enough. She has famously called out world leaders for debating scientific facts and failing to stop a global warming trend that will affect the world's children more than it affects anyone who's currently in power.

Greta Thunberg

Thunberg’s recognition is a watershed event and if you are involved in agriculture you should take notice. And let’s be clear, whether you believe in climate change or think it’s a hoax is irrelevant. What matters is that climate is an issue gathering world-wide attention and is rapidly becoming the motivational force behind how a generation of people are living their lives.

I recognize many of you harbor some strong opinions about climate change, but please, don’t send them to me. There is no argument – pro or con – that I haven’t already heard, and such arguments are pointless because this movement is not about what you or I believe but about your customers.

Indeed, over the past decade we have witnessed a seismic shift in the way consumers buy all goods and services. Modern Americans have always demanded quality, only now quality means much more to younger consumers. For many quality means products must meet certain criteria for sustainability and environmental impact. Repeatedly, we’ve seen studies that show consumers believe our food system is broken – or at least in need of change. One criticism is that American diets are the most resource-intensive on the plant.

American farmers and ranchers can argue their production systems are the most efficient on the planet. True enough, but that doesn’t always resonate with younger consumers – especially those trained to believe cows are the root cause of climate change. To those young consumers – many of whom are becoming vegan – arguing that climate change is a hoax or sustainability is hogwash is simply irrational.

If you’re wary of how new environmental regulations or land use restrictions may impact your farm or ranch you must become more involved in the process. That doesn’t mean making the hoax argument at every opportunity because that ship is dead in the water with millennials. No, arguing with your customers about what they want is not a winning strategy.

Ultimately, the global movement on climate change will require that you make some changes to your operation, to quality control and resources management. It’s likely that future farmers and ranchers will be required to submit to a third-party audit of their operation to verify compliance with certain environmental and animal welfare standards.

I’m not campaigning for those changes. But the world is rapidly shifting to views similar to Greta Thunberg’s.

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Submitted by Robert Allen on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 07:20

What you/we should be concerned about is what the democrat party has done to the education system in America that created an electorate that believes the foolishness that a 16 year old handicapped child has been programmed with to the detriment of all of us.

Submitted by Steve on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 07:23

We are already doing third party audits in the hog industry. It’s required by our packer.

Submitted by AJT on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 07:37

The world belongs to the young whom have to live in this world the white haired old men with one foot in the grave have created and need to step aside. This is why there is conflict either in Hong Kong or over ideas. The solution is that the old entitled have to be at peace way before their death bed.
Change is the only Constant in human evolution.

Submitted by Ann on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:48

The white haired old men are the ones who had to fight and work hard all their lives and the young ones today have always had what they wanted without working hard but thru education believe they are. (not all but most esp. hard core dems). To blame Hong Kong for old white men is really dishonest and limited in your own bias. It is really hard to respect someone just throwing out current talking points which is just looking for a victim and making others the oppressor. People like you throw out this bs and believe you are doing something good in your life by jumping on the crazy mob train. Young vs old, women vs men, whites vs non-white, etc.. Maybe you just contribute to the problems of this world. True work, honesty will really change the world. You sound like the entitled one but believe you are the giver. Try to be happy - I know it's hard when your are trying to find fault in everything/certain gender/races. You just do not know how good you have it.

In reply to by AJT (not verified)

Submitted by Dollarandsense on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 07:44

Rumor has it Padme’ Amidala was also considered for Time’s person of the year because she was the mother of Luke Skywalker.....

Submitted by Paul Garrison on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 09:25

Apparently there were not many to chose from

Submitted by Mr Obvious in MT on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 10:01

NO credibility in such a liberal rag - nor who they choose as a person of the year. Educated readers know better... totally laughable yet sad. Beat these dolts at the ballot box. VOTE.

Submitted by bob on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 10:03

I agree with robert allen. This is a failure of our educational system. And to Greg Henderson not pushing back on lies and being complacent to let others control the narrative is not ethical. I currently live in a suburb of Los Angeles. The "official" weather station was moved miles from it's original location about 15 years ago, San Francisco also had their weather station moved. Forensic temperature analysis relies on methods where the margin of error is several degrees and to prove a theory measured in fractions of degrees. Ignoring facts simply because a large group of people pressure us to confirm their bias is ridiculous. You only have to look at the details of the green new deal to realize that it is not a plan to save the planet but an attempt to exert control over others. Retro fitting every building in America would result in far more pollution. Steel mills worldwide would run 24 hrs a day and still not meet demand. The wood needed would require clear cutting forests and running lumber mills around the clock and still fall far short of demand. The production would also require huge demands for power to process the raw materials into building products. The earth would never recover from the compassionate green new deals consequences. But staying silent on such madness ignores pointing out the true objective of climate change proponents. A blatant power grab that cannot be achieved otherwise. As robert allen touched on our education system has been decimated. Our colleges put out graduates who are definitely lacking but are indoctrinated with a belief system to one particular point of view without the critical assessment skills to challenge that belief system. Putting a huge financial burden on the young to receive the almost mandatory degree sets up the next step. Forcing the taxpayer to pay for the excess in the system. Next the young people are now looking to government for their solutions instead of themselves. Add into that legalization of drugs that reduce productivity and drive and we are dooming our next generation. But that is ok Mr Henderson, tell the babies what they want to hear so you can be their friend.

Submitted by Thoams on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 13:13

How to respond to Gretta? Get involved. Don't sound off in on-line forums. Don't be a cry-baby. Be proactive for holistic strategies to affect local change.

Submitted by Rod Johnson on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 13:33

I bet these people who are so concerned with how their food is raised would get real quiet if they didn’t have food to eat. I say we all pull together and quit raising food for all these brats and I bet they change their toon when there isn’t enough food to go around.

Submitted by Pete on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 19:24

This article looks like it was written by a politician... which makes it a valuable resource for the crops as fertilizer.

Submitted by Gavin on Thu, 12/12/2019 - 20:31

Animal ag is already awoke to global warming. Ag schools and ag geneticists are working on heat-resistent breeds of dairy and beef cattle, along with drougth-resistant feed crops. These scientists see the thermometer on the wall. Politics shouldn't interfere with science; those of us in animal agriculture ignore global warming at peril to our own future and that of our children's futures! The best way to deal with change is not to ignore it, but to acknowledge it...and prepare. We ALL need to become climate change realists and activists.

Submitted by Emory Rice on Fri, 12/13/2019 - 07:59

I believe Elizabeth I deserves the award for being the oldest Monarch and the fourth place Ruler in years of reign in HISTOR !Y

Submitted by Dianne on Sat, 01/04/2020 - 11:49

The cattle industry is not only about meat. Unfortunately the worlds shoes are made from plastics instead of leather anymore. Plastic, refined from petroleum, is more hazardous to the environment than a cow grazing in a field. Adults should do a little more educating this young lady. And if Time chooses her because of her ability to lead protests to improve the world, Time should have made all the musicians at Woodstock people of the year in the 60s. The millennial don't know what it means to protest. They're too sheltered.