She’s Taken On The World But Greta Thunberg’s Main Opposition Is Coming From Grumpy Old Men
Just recently, citizens around the world partook in a global climate strike – a movement pioneered by the young Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg. The strike’s origins trace back to 2018, when Thunberg chose to sit outside Sweden’s parliament, demanding greater urgency from her country’s leaders with regards to tackling the impending threat of climate change.
Now 16-years-old, Thunberg’s actions have gained worldwide momentum as the rest of us have grown increasingly more aware of the dramatic impact of climate change, with some even experiencing the disastrous affects first hand. With Thunberg leading the charge, Teen Vogue describes her activism as one which has “given voice to an entire generation’s existential fear and energised a worldwide movement demanding everything necessary and possible to save our planet.”
Since the strike, Thunberg spoke passionately at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York and even went on to file a potentially world-changing climate complaint. Thunberg addressed politicians and world leaders at the Summit, saying: “You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? 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.”
It was a rousing speech, one that went viral after resonating with so many people. But as anyone who challenges those in positions of authority can attest, Thunberg’s willingness to speak out has garnered a number of naysayers and, somewhat unsurprisingly, they all tend to be very grumpy old men. Is it merely a case in which they feel threatened and are taking to attacking a 16-year-old in an effort to silence her? Or are there legitimate claims behind their opposing arguments? Sadly, it seems like the former.
As Stuart Cosgrove of The National suggests, Thunberg “has an effortless ability to wind up right-wing men, especially those who hide behind the false flag of libertarianism when, in fact, their values are entirely in line with bitter and opinionated conservatives.”
Australian conservative and climate-change denier Andrew Bolt has branded Thunberg as “deeply disturbed”, going on to add that the young teen is “freakishly influential” and “strange”.
More distressing however, was Bolt’s mocking of Thunberg’s autism diagnosis in his column, something which left autism advocates deeply offended and disgusted. The Sky News commentator wrote, “Thunberg has announced she’s finally going to the United States, the last bastion of the heathen, to preach the global warming faith to the Americans. Of course, she’s going by racing yacht, because she refuses to fly and heat the planet with an aeroplane’s global warming gasses.”
I am indeed ”deeply disturbed” about the fact that these hate and conspiracy campaigns are allowed to go on and on and on just because we children communicate and act on the science. Where are the adults? pic.twitter.com/xDSlN0VgtZ— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) 1 August 2019
Bolt added, “I have never seen a girl so young and with so many mental disorders treated by so many adults as a guru,” then saying, “Her intense fear of the climate is not surprising from someone with disorders which intensify fears.”
Thunberg responded to the column in a Tweet, saying: “I am indeed “deeply disturbed” about the fact that these hate and conspiracy campaigns are allowed to go on and on and on just because we children communicate and act on the science. Where are the adults?”
The controversial columnist wrote that there was “something chilling” about Thunberg, who “increasingly looks and sounds like a cult member.” O’Neill also went on to say that Thunberg is a “poor young woman” whose transformation by others into a “messiah” is “unforgivable”. This description seemingly allowed him to refer to her “monotone voice” and “look of apocalyptic dread” as mere descriptors, rather than a personal attack.
As O’Neil writes: “One can imagine her in a sparse wooden church in the Plymouth Colony in the 1600s warning parishioners of the hellfire that will rain upon them if they fail to give up their witches.”
The TV-presented made his thoughts about the climate activist known in a column for The Sun. Clarkson wrote: “How dare we? No. How dare you sail to America on a carbon fibre yacht that you didn’t build which cost 15 million pounds, that you didn’t earn, and which has a back-up diesel engine that you didn’t mention. And then pause for a moment to consider how soundly you sleep at night, knowing that adults are building and servicing and flying Sweden’s fighter planes. To keep you safe.”
Clarkson then went on to add: “We gave you mobile phones and laptops and the internet. We created the social media you use every day and we run the banks that pay for it all. So how dare you stand there and lecture us, you spoilt brat.”
“So how’s this for an idea,” continued Clarkson. “Get back to school as quickly as possible and work hard in your science lectures. Because science is what will solve the problem eventually. Not scowling and having screaming ab-dabs every five minutes. Many thousands of people who you had the temerity to blame this week are trying to do exactly what you want. So be a good girl, shut up and let them get on with it.”
While somewhat less disparaging than the other males firing shots at the young activist, Piers Morgan advised Thunberg to “go back to school”. In a column for the Daily Mail, Morgan wrote: “I applaud Greta Thunberg for forcing us all to wake up and take proper notice, and I urge President Trump to stop mocking her and start listening because she’s right and he’s wrong.”
Morgan then added, “But I will applaud Greta even more now if she goes back to school, escapes the oppressive limelight that’s left her so fragile, and leaves it to the adults she’s rightly shamed to finish her excellent work.”
It’s uncomfortable to read these deeply personal and aggressive attacks towards Greta Thunberg. Even when the science clearly illustrates the impact of climate change, these criticisms are launched at Thunberg herself – rather than the facts she presents. But as Cosgrove suggests, to have ruffled the feathers of those most established in the media is a measure of her success. And if Thunberg continues her incredible work, it’s likely that she’ll only attract more grumpy old men who object to her passion and growing star power.