A giant mural of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is going up over downtown San Francisco to remind residents to respect the planet.
The 60 foot by 30 foot likeness of Thunberg, 16, looks down disapprovingly from a building in the central Union Square neighborhood. Argentinian muralist Andres Iglesias, who signs his art with the pseudonym Cobre, is expected to complete the aerosol painting by Tuesday.
“I think It’s a very important mission to try to awake some citizens that they are wasting a lot of energy and resources for no reason, and I think it’s very important to try to help in a way,” he told TIME magazine. “People need to know about these things.”
“Climate change is real,” Cobre said to SFGate. “This girl Greta is awesome and she knows what she’s doing. I hope with this mural people will realize we have to take care of the world.”
One Atmosphere, an environmental nonprofit, is funding the mural in the eco-conscious California city.
“If we can amplify her message and get more people involved and listening to what she’s saying, then we’re doing some good,” the group’s executive director, Paul Scott, told CNN.
However, conservative publications have pointed out that the dozens, or even hundreds, of cans of aerosol paint Cobre is using will add to carbon emissions.
The Daily Caller compared the Thunberg mural to an illustration of “Big Brother” on a paperback edition of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”
This isn’t the first Greta Thunberg mural
Thunberg has been in the United States since August, when she arrived from Europe on a “zero-carbon” yacht. In September, she excoriated world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York for allegedly destroying her future with their inaction on climate change.
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” Thunberg said.
“My message is that we’ll be watching you.”
Despite her dour brand of activism, Thunberg has been widely celebrated as a hero, particularly by young progressives.
In recent months, she has become the face of a climate strike that spanned an estimated 185 countries. She was nominated for a Nobel peace prize for her work.
Although she did not win the Swedish award, Thunberg has been honored by a number of other street artists around the world.
In May, Jody Thomas painted a 50-foot portrait of the teenager on the face of the historic Tobacco Factory in Bristol, England.
In September, Lopi LaRoe created a Thunberg mural on a building in Vermont.
And in October, AJA Louden adorned a wall in Edmonton, Canada, with the activist’s face.
However, in an indication of the backlash to Thunberg-mania in some quarters, a critic scrawled a mustache on the mural in Vermont, promoting LaRoe to weep and repaint it. Meanwhile, two different men were reportedly seen defacing the mural in Edmonton, where the oil and gas industry is a major employer.
Cobre, who previously painted a mural of late actor Robin Williams in San Francisco, said he was aware of the controversy surrounding Thunberg. He said he accepted the project anyway.
“I usually don’t paint political stuff, because it kind of gives you people who will love it and people who will hate it,” he said. “But this one I think was really important.”