| It's gettin' hot in here|
Greta Thunberg (2003–) is a Swedish teenage advocate for the radical change necessary to avoid global warming catastrophe. She has presented her message in many important forums including the United Nations, where she has made a large impact on the global narrative of climate change. Her emotional pleas for change and her anger directed to those who have "ruined the Earth for the next generation" have found positive reception. While on the most part they are accepted as representative of her generation, they have also met vicious resistance by climate change deniers, composed mainly of right-wingers that politicize the issue. Thunberg has received numerous awards, media coverage, and messages of admiration from world leaders. While considered brave, courageous and intelligent with a promising future by most, she is also depicted as a vile dangerous she-devil attempting to hoax the world into economic decline. It's denialist projection.
Thunberg started off by taking Fridays off school and protesting in front of the Swedish Parliament, Riksdagen, with her trademark sign "Skolstrejk för klimatet" ("School strike for the climate"). Her supportive family and some of her schoolmates joined her, and those of other schools, and thanks to social media combined with news coverage, the trend quickly spread across Sweden and around the world. She is a supporter of Extinction Rebellion and donated the proceeds from a multimedia project. Thunberg has taken full advantage of social media and her ability to advocate to the younger generation. She encouraged students to strike all over the world which resulted in a mass global strike in many countries.
Thunberg has inspired a number of other activists of her own generation, many of them young women who are now prominent in their own right, such as Germany's Luisa Neubauer and the US activist Alexandria Villaseñor.
She maintains that politicians and other decision makers should look at what science says about the global climate crisis and act accordingly.
Hysterics from wingnuts
The idea that a teenage girl advocating for a better future could be a demonic threat to the very heart of society is not new. Of course, the reaction to Thunberg from the climate change denialists is also what you expect, containing the atypical blend of conspiracy theories and doctored memes, personal attacks, "jokes" about her being in a "freak yachting accident", and a particularly stupid pundit invoking Godwin's Law... because she wears braids. The viciousness of personal attacks quickly reached batshit-insane levels in October 2019 when an effigy of Thunberg was hung on a bridge in Rome. Hanging by the neck was a sign, written in English saying "Greta is your God". While not only bizarre and confusing, it is a threatening response to Thunberg's advocacy and a sign of how afraid people are of the personal cost required to change our policies. Resistance to Thunberg is coincides with countries and regions that have high rates of denialism, and also coincides with oil-producing countries such as the United States, the province of Alberta in Canada, Russia and the Gulf countries (such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar). There is also a less extreme but still ridiculous and dangerously politicized climate change denial in Hungary, Italy and Australia where Thunberg has been maligned by the media or far-right populist politicians.
Michael Knowles, of The Daily Wire, went too far, even for Fox News (kind of), calling Thunberg "a mentally ill Swedish child" and accusing the "international left" and her parents of "exploiting a girl with many mental illnesses…" Laura Ingraham couldn't be left out of the being a horrible person competition, a few hours after Knowles' remarks, comparing footage of Thunberg's address to the UN, to a clip of Isaac Chroner, the child cult leader from the 1984 horror film Children of the Corn, who murder all the adults in their town.
favorite classical liberal "skeptic" Sargon of Akkad had some opinions in a video, You Have Nothing to Fear from the Cult of Greta Thunberg summed up as, "She doesn't know what she's talking about" and "cult like deification of Gretta, is getting real creepy" and that she should be ignored (just like he ignored Anita Sarkeesian, right?). Other choice quotes include, "Well everyone's pro-science. Science is how we work out what's true about the world … No one is opposing this [climate science], what they are opposing is the framing of what's happening." and "Obviously she's a puppet, obviously she's a puppet of her parent, she's 16; she can't not be". He also thinks Trump handled it the right way: "just ignore the child". Shocker, he brings up socialism, communism and the freaking Soviet Union.
One of the dumbest statements came from Pastor Robert Jeffress, "Somebody needs to read poor Greta Genesis, Chapter 9, and tell her the next time she worries about global warming, just look at a rainbow. That's God's promise that the polar ice caps aren't going to melt and flood the world again."
While one might focus on Thunberg's arguments and the amazing feat of garnering the world's attention at such a young age, others seem obsessed with her autism in an attempt to blame her entire "irrational message" on a behavior disorder. Thunberg doesn't view her learning disorders as a major hindrance to her life. While admitting that it has limited her in the past, she now considers her Asperger's syndrome as a superpower.
In 2018 she wrote: "I have Aspergers syndrome so, for me, most things are black or white. I look at the people in power and wonder how they have made things so complicated. I hear people saying that climate change is an existential threat, yet I watch as people carry on like nothing is happening."
In fact, almost all the critical responses to Thunberg's activism are straw men. Instead of engaging with what she says, her critics without exception focus on other issues such as her age, her attitude or her looks. Engaging with what she actually says seems very rare indeed.
Some leftists[Who?] criticize her for collaborating with liberal politicians who support projects that expand long-term fossil fuel use, such as Justin Trudeau who has supported expanding Canada's oil pipeline infrastructure. Whether accusations of hypocrisy are warranted given the content of those collaborations is unclear, especially since she has called out Trudeau specifically.
She has been somewhat fairly critiqued for saying that she does not personally support nuclear power as a solution to climate change, despite being a clean energy source with the safest record of all energy technologies over time, although this was a singular Facebook post, and mostly she seems to avoid expressing an opinion on the specifics of how the climate crisis is to be tackled.
Part of Thunberg's mass appeal is her ability to put forth points with eloquent simplicity (whether in Swedish or English). She cuts through the rhetoric of large and powerful but slow-to-move international organizations, states, and the like with direct statements, such as:
- "You say you love your children above all else, and yet you're stealing their future in front of their very eyes."
- "Why go to school and study for a future which might not exist?"
- "We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. […] And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself?"
- "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?!"
- Zhao, Christina. Newsweek. (September 23, 2019). Fox News Guests Fight On-Air After One Called Greta Thunberg a 'Mentally Ill Swedish Child': 'Relax Skinny Boy… You're Despicable' (Full video on YouTube)
- Media Matters for America. (September 23, 2019). Laura Ingraham compares Greta Thunberg and youth climate activists to Stephen King's “Children of the Corn”
- Sargon of Akkad. YouTube (September 26, 2019) You Have Nothing to Fear from the Cult of Greta Thunberg
- Jensen, K Thor. Newsweek. (September 25, 2019). Evangelical Pastor to Greta Thunberg: Don't Worry, God Promised Not to Flood Earth Again
- Greta Thunberg meets Justin Trudeau amid climate strikes: 'He is not doing enough'
- Trudeau's oil pipeline tarnishes his climate credentials ahead of Canadian election
- "One second they declare a #ClimateEmergency and the next second they say yes to expand a pipeline."