Teen activist Greta Thunberg on how Asperger's helps her fight climate change

Greta Thunberg on "advantage" of Asperger's

At 16, climate activist Greta Thunberg has been called the greatest threat to the world's fossil fuel industry. The teenager first made headlines last year with her solitary strike against climate change outside Sweden's parliament. Since then, she's inspired millions of supporters to rally in more than 150 countries.

Thunberg will be speaking at the UN's Climate Action Summit in New York later this month. In lieu of flying to the summit, she made headlines by sailing across the Atlantic in a zero-emissions yacht. Thunberg joined "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday to discuss her climate advocacy, and how her Asperger's has helped her deliver her message. 

Thunberg emphasized that in order to prevent a climate emergency, world leaders must "step out of their comfort zone." 

"The planet is outside its comfort zone and we also need to be outside of our comfort zone to prevent the worst consequences from happening," she said. "What I want people to do now is to become aware of the crisis that is here."  

In some cases, that means shaming "those who need shaming," she said. "It's what I have been doing for quite a while now, and it actually has a lot of impact when you speak truth to power, when you don't bother to be polite because this is such a serious crisis, and you cannot -- we cannot -- focus on what we can or cannot say. Now we must speak clearly about what is happening."  

When asked how she found the confidence to speak so clearly, Thunberg said that "I just know what is right and I want to do what is right. I want to make sure I have done anything, everything in my power to stop this crisis from happening, to prevent it."

"I have Asperger's, I'm on the autism spectrum, so I don't really care about social codes that way," she added.

In some cases, she said, her neurodiversity gives her an advantage. It "makes you different and makes you think differently," she said. "Especially in a big crisis like this one, we need to think outside the box, we need to think outside our current system, we need people who think outside the box and who aren't like everyone else."  

When asked about the most important thing the public can do to help prevent a climate emergency, Thunberg said it's key to "try to understand the crisis."

"I think that once you fully understand the climate and ecological emergencies, then you know what you can do as well," she added. "And, of course, there's a lot of things you can do in your everyday life, but we cannot be focusing on these individual things you can do. We have to see the full picture."