Greta Thunberg, at age 16, has quickly become one of the most visible climate activists in the world. Her detractors increasingly rely on ad hominem attacks to blunt her influence.
Thunberg gained prominence after she began skipping some days of school to protest climate inaction outside Swedish parliament. She spearheaded the school walkouts that saw more than a million children across the globe leaving their classrooms to demand action on global warming.
She has addressed world and U.N. leaders and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Later this month, she’ll sail across the Atlantic Ocean in a 60-foot yacht powered by solar panels and underwater turbines on her way to participate in the U.N. climate talks in New York (see related story).
But the success of Thunberg — who describes herself on Twitter as a “16 year old climate activist with Asperger” — remains a sore point for those who reject mainstream climate science and some who have helped shape or encourage the Trump’s administration rollback of climate policy.
They frequently point to Thunberg’s autism, claim she is used by her parents and compare her call to young people on climate change to “Hitler Youth.” They have pointed to her “monotone voice” and framed her as a “millenarian weirdo” with the “look of apocalyptic dread in her eyes.”
A recent opinion piece in The New York Times prompted an outcry among climate hawks and Thunberg’s allies, who said the newspaper was validating these types of personal attacks on the teenage activist.
At his congressional hearing, Moore testified alongside Marc Morano, who works for the conservative Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and has a blog that misrepresents and attacks climate science. Morano has been invited by the Trump administration to EPA events weakening the role of science at the agency; he was photographed giving his book “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change” to former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Morano’s blog describes Thunberg as an “autistic prophet.” In his Twitter feed, Morano retweets criticisms of her that center on her autism.”She hasn’t been called a mascot. Which; is really what she is. She’ll get a Nobel Prize and a wanna-be Ph.d. from Harvard. For being autistic and not going to school,” wrote one follower retweeted by Morano.