Greta Thunbergs enemies are right to be scared of her message. Her new political allies should be too | Stephen Buranyi
Liberal leaders line up to praise her. Yet their inaction shows they are not really listening, says science writer Stephen Buranyi
Greta Thunberg has made a lot of enemies. They are easy to recognise because their rage is so great they cannot help making themselves look ridiculous. Thunbergs arrival in the US earlier this month set off rightwing pundits and then the president himself. The conservative provocateur Dinesh DSouza compared her look to a Nazi propaganda poster; a Fox News guest called her a mentally ill Swedish child being exploited by her parents; and Trump mocked her on Twitter as a happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future, after a speech in which she urgently laid out the dismal prospects for her generations future.
These are the latest attacks, but they arent the darkest, or most unhinged. Arron Banks intimating that she might drown crossing the Atlantic in August might be the single worst example or you can stare directly into the abyss by witnessing the depraved abuse Thunberg receives across the social media networks.
Her many supporters seem baffled about why Thunberg triggers these attacks. What is it about Greta? they ask, puzzling over her apparent innocuousness; this slight girl with her oversized coats and hand-painted sign who insists we should simply listen to the scientists. Thunbergs age and gender undoubtedly annoy her critics, but theyre melting down because she explicitly makes the connections that scientists are generally unwilling to make. Namely that their scientific predictions for the climate, and the current economic and political order, may not be compatible.
Last years IPCC report warned there were just 12 years left to avoid irreversible damage to the climate. Thunberg refers to this often, updating the count as if it were a timebomb strapped to the chest of her entire generation: the closer it gets to zero, the more radical action seems justified.
Its a moral argument, fundamentally, that assumes the climate crisis will be worse than any disruption caused by addressing it. Carbon moves the deadly clock forward, and anything that facilitates that must be bad. She judges long-touted paradigms of green growth and market-based solutions as failures by this simple measure. If solutions within this system are so impossible to find then maybe we should change the system itself, she said at the UN climate conference in Katowice last year.
The right doesnt just mindlessly explode at every climate activist. Thunberg has none of the unthreatening geniality of Mr Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore, or the various Hollywood celebrities who have taken on climate as a cause. She styles herself as a climate populist: she invokes a clear moral vision, a corrupt, unresponsive system and has a knack for neatly separating an us and a them. When she spoke of her supporters being mocked and lied about by elected officials, members of parliament, business leaders, journalists, she was drawing now-familiar political lines against the elite.
This framing releases ordinary people from complicity in the climate crisis, just as other populisms release them from blame for their economic or social fate, and directs that feeling towards a political enemy. Some people say that the climate crisis is something that we all have created. But that is just another convenient lie, Thunberg told attendees at Davos earlier this year. Someone is to blame. A 2017 report showing that just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 has become a popular reference among protesters. The alchemy of populism is that powerlessness fuels anger rather than despair.
Thunbergs critics previously understood exactly what to expect from the climate issue. Even if they didnt follow it closely, they could intuit, as most people could, that the mainstream channels of communication were gunked up with denial and obstruction, and international negotiations were governed by a politics that was accommodating to the status quo. Despite the lofty promises, no one believed anything would change. It isnt just that Thunberg has made climate politics popular, she has for the first time since the early days of the climate justice movement made them populist on a large scale, something these people rightly see as a threat to the more liberal order that suited them fine. A good reactionary recognises the potential vehicle for real change, and they hate it.
Hi my name is Kareem Maize and welcome to my personal blog. I am 26 year old musician and information technology professional with a passion for learning new aspects of life everyday. On my journey to express myself I began blogging to share my ideas with others. Now I intend to write fun, interesting, and engaging content for my viewers to help them grow spiritually, physically, and mentally . The concept of belief systems and the law of attraction peak my interest!!! I believe blogging about my personal experiences, beliefs, and ideas is the best way to achieve these goals!!!