Welcome to a Time Travel Nexus Investigates special! At TTNI, we’re playing detective, hunting the TTTs (time-travelling tourists), and attempting to solve some much-talked-about cases of real-life time travel.
As you know, I’m now writing TTNI posts when something exciting and timey-wimey comes up in the news, as opposed to monthly (as I’m now busy working on my Time Trek review column).
I thought that the recent hullabaloo over Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg being a TTT warranted a little look!
Origin of the claim
16-year-old Greta Thunberg shot to international fame rather suddenly in 2018 after she began skipping school to go and protest outside the Swedish parliament, calling for stronger action on global warming. She garnered attention for her public speeches and her activities sparked the international school strike for the climate movement. She addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference and was featured on the cover of Time magazine in May 2019, which named her a “next generation leader” and a role model. She was later nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
On November 9th, Facebook user Allison White posted a picture of a photo she said she’d seen hanging on the wall at a popular restaurant called the Crab Pot in Seattle. She captioned the photo with Greta Thunberg is a TIME TRAVELER. On November 19th, the photo was posted on Twitter by “Cool History”, who said it showed three children working at a goldmine in Yukon Territory, Canada, in 1898, but mentioned nothing about time travel. It’s not clear whether Cool History posted the photo having heard the theory that was circulating on Facebook and were hoping to spark a debate on Twitter, or whether it was just an extraordinary coincidence that the same photo had been shared 10 days earlier.
Anyway, in the photo is a girl with braided hair and a hat who looks remarkably, no astonishingly, like Greta Thunberg. But how could that be? The photo’s from 1898!
Two words. And you know very well what they are.
With people on Facebook and Twitter pointing out the uncanny resemblance between the girl at the goldmine and the world-famous climate activist, the photo quickly went viral. In the last few weeks it’s appeared on countless new sites, from The Sunday Express to The Guardian to CNN and People Magazine.
Nature of the claim
People now believe that Greta Thunberg is a time traveller sent from the future to save the world. A future where the climate crisis has put us on the brink of extinction and Earth is (literally) at boiling point. Why would she be in a photo from 1898? Some believe that she has been sent back to several key moments in history to prevent climate change. I’m not sure what she’d be doing to steer the world in the right direction at a goldmine in Canada, but the beauty of time travel is that a tiny, seemingly insignificant change can have a massive impact on the timeline.
This would explain her very sudden rise to fame in 2018. Where was she before that? The more apt question would be when. And the answer might be that she was flitting across time to put certain things in place so that her future efforts would succeed. It could be that her activism today is just another one of those necessary steps and that she will soon be going back to the future to complete her mission.
The only piece of evidence we have (thus far) for Greta Thunberg being a TTT is the 1898 photo. The resemblance is spookily close. She even has braided pigtails, exactly like the modern-day Greta.
The origins of this photo have been investigated; it comes from Special Collections at the University of Washington Libraries. The university has stated that the photo was taken by Eric Hegg during the Klondyke gold rush in 1898 and came into possession of the Libraries Special Collections division in the 1960s. Hegg’s caption on the photo simply read: Youths operating gold mines on Dominion. Klondyke, YT.
The university has said that there are no other details about the girl but it’s likely that her name was never recorded as important, or the details were lost. When the Hegg collection came to the university in the 60s, this predated modern record keeping which would’ve detailed who donated the collection or its prior ownership.
A number of people have alleged that the image is doctored, that Greta Thunberg has been photoshopped into it. But the University of Washington has responded to these claims saying categorically that it is an original and has not been tampered with.
Kristin Kinsey, Digital and Visual Materials Specialist at the university, also said to Artnet News: “Unfortunately I think that there is too much attention being given to conspiracy theories. Maybe it would be more useful for you and the news media to focus on the issues that Greta Thunberg is actively trying to advocate for.”
That told them. But perhaps the university is in on Greta’s big time travel secret…
The resemblance between Greta Thunberg and the unnamed girl in the picture is super-eerie. The facial features are shockingly similar, but I find the fact that she even has the same braided pigtails Greta’s always sporting even more disturbing.
The university, of course, may not have any knowledge of Greta’s secret. Eric Hegg, who took the photo, probably didn’t know that the little girl he was capturing was a time traveller either.
My only question would be why Greta allowed him to take the photo, knowing that it could, one day, give the game away. Maybe she just didn’t want to arouse suspicion or draw attention to herself…
Stephen Hawking once posed the question—if time travel were real, where are all the tourists from the future? Well, Stephen, Ms. Thunberg could well be one of them.