• Anusha Jacob

The Rise of the Anti-Greta Thunberg Movement

Many of us know Greta as the young, fervent Swedish environmentalist who turned the tides when it came to our world’s scarce response to Climate Change. Enraged by the plethora of ways our generation harms the planet everyday, Greta was quick to use her own voice as a medium to challenge the mindsets and actions of prominent world leaders. From her incessant pleas for action to her angry tears, Greta was quick to garner an onslaught of global attention through her thought provoking speeches. The poignant perspective Greta brings to the table as a teenager is what continues to drive her neverending list of accolades and catalyze a widespread ripple effect, inspiring hundreds of thousands worldwide.

But, if you think everything’s hunky-dory when it comes to Greta’s pleas for change, you’ve been severely misinformed.

Naomi Seibt: The face of Anti-Greta activism

Like most leaders who press on for active change, Greta is no stranger to scandal and controversy. What is largely ironic, however, is that Greta’s biggest opposition lies in Naomi Seibt, a young activist like herself. As the common saying goes, there are always two sides of a coinin this context, if Greta’s the head, Seibt’s the tail.

Although Greta and Naomi hail from the same age group and both call Europe home, that’s truly all they have in commonthere’s no grey area. While Greta prides herself on being a figurehead amongst climate change activists, Naomi brands herself as a climate realist. Employed by one of America’s most influential conservative think tanks, The Heartland Institute, Naomi serves as a mouthpiece for the Trump-backed organization. The institute maintains that climate change is merely an exaggerated, non-anthropogenic phenomenonwith a teenaged Naomi on their side as their messenger, their potential to appeal to, brainwash, and divide today’s youth through the medium of propaganda remains a growing threat.

To Naomi’s credit, she has worked tirelessly to ridicule Greta and her global appeal, stirring up nothing but skepticism and distrust. But, it is important to trace where all this misdirection actually stems from. When you stop to think about it, Naomi is really a puppet in a much larger, corrupt show for “grown-ups”a show masterminded by some of the most powerful stakeholders in America.

When Naomi preaches that carbon dioxide and greenhouse emissions aren’t actually impacting our climate, and that one of the root causes of global warming is our “overuse of solar energy”, she plays into the hands of modern day industrialists and capitalists. Monopolies, top businesses, and leading politicians, who depend on the exploitation of fossil fuels in our smog-ridden world, reap the benefits as Naomi pinpoints the blame elsewhere and fictionalizes Climate Change.

However, Naomi is just one amongst a vast sea of thousands who seek to effectuate Greta’s downfall, doing whatever it takes to propel the “Anti-Greta Thunberg Movement”.

The rise of the Anti-Greta Thunberg movement

The public outcry against her age:

Although Greta Thunberg’s age does amplify the weight her messages carry, it also lays the ground for people to mock her and remain ignorant. Many assert that she is too young to be taken seriously and question the example she strives to set for newer generations, claiming that it is futile for children to drop out of school before maturing to a certain point.

Political opposition from Trump:

A dichotomy exists in the world of politics too where although Greta continues to team up with political tycoons like Barack Obama, she still receives backlash from prominent leaders like Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. While Greta persists in trying to expose the hypocrisy of politicians, who prioritize money and “fairy tales of eternal economic growth” over taking action to mitigate the prospect of mass extinction, Trump continues to turn a blind eye. The American president relentlessly perpetuates a pro-fossil fuels agenda, having replaced Obama’s clean power plan and loosened the regulations imposed on energy suppliers once elected. Despite the relevance and rationality of Greta’s ideas, Trump persistently mocks her speeches on Twitter, labelling her cause “ridiculous” and seemingly refusing to be demeaned by her.

Questioning Greta’s perspective as a citizen of the West:

Taking a closer look into Greta’s profile, it doesn’t take long for anyone to notice the affluent background she hails from. The Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, was quick to call Greta “a brat” for speaking out about issues that her home country doesn’t bear the brunt of— Sweden boasting one of the smallest carbon footprints and highest HDI values in the world. Many stakeholders from lesser developed continents like Asia and Africa have also questioned Greta’s promotion of equity, claiming that she remains unaware of the true and severe economic disparity present between countries today, where a large percentage of the world’s poorer manufacturing industries operate outside the West.

Other points of conflict:

The anti-Thunberg rhetoric not only revolves around the aforementioned points, but is also guided by several other notions. Many have deemed Greta a ‘mentally ill’ and incapable spokesperson for such a large-scaled cause because of her Asperger’s syndrome. Other common beliefs that distort her image include the sentiments that she is a puppet for her parents, who also happen to be full time environmentalists, is a political pawn, and a quintessential communist. Although I don’t agree with the brutal stances many have adopted against Greta, it is important to acknowledge how prevalent her opposition is.

To Greta or not to Greta: A verdict

At the end of the day, although Greta Thunberg has prompted a much needed revolution against Climate Change worldwide, many often agree that she falls short when it comes to initiating tangible action and putting words to action. However, it is important to give credit where it is due and recognize the attention Thunberg has been able to bring to such a vast problem across nations. With an issue as boundless as climate change, you need multiple perspectives that drive people to learn more and take action. Greta did just that by raising the stakes and bringing in a fresh point of view on behalf of the youth.

Ultimately, if you rearrange Greta’s name, you get “great”— a word I think everyone, especially those who identify as Gen-Z, should remember her by.