In August 2018, then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg staged her first strike outside the Swedish parliament. By November, the movement had caught on. Kids across Europe went on strike walking out of schools, sparking what would become the largest climate protest ever held around the world. Earlier this year, less than a year after she started campaigning, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for starting what is now truly a global movement.
Over the last month, she’s captured even more media attention to her cause – the current climate crisis – by sailing (rather than flying) across the Atlantic to attend the United Nations climate action summit in New York, where she gave a powerful speech that got seen by the world.
Despite her message being relatively non-controversial – Earth’s climate is demonstrably changing and we need to do more to prevent catastrophe – and backed up entirely by science, she has drawn the attention and abuse of prominent Internet trolls and actively controversial media figures.
You’d hope that people would temper their language when talking about someone who is still only a 16-year-old child, but that has not been the case.
It’s not just the accurate scientific information she is sharing that has been questioned by detractors. She has been attacked on the grounds that she, a young person with Asperger’s syndrome talking on national television fluently in a second language, delivered this information in too much of a monotone, with critics calling her “chilling” and “creepy”. When she chose a boat not a plane to travel to the US to give a talk on how we should be limiting our carbon emissions, grown adults made jokes about her drowning.
She’s even been likened to Nazi propaganda because she braids her hair.
When she’s not being attacked by prominent members of the media, she is regularly asked by the general public things like “if you’re so scared of climate change, how come you eat food?” because she was pictured eating lunch. (Yeah, they’ve totally got her there.)
Throughout all this, she has kept relatively quiet about on her thoughts on trolls. Even when the President of the United States mocked her on Twitter, she merely updated her bio to show how little it bothered her.
Now she has responded to the abuse and conspiracy theories, in a thread that’s gone viral.
She got succinctly to the point.
“It seems they will cross every possible line to avert the focus, since they are so desperate not to talk about the climate and ecological crisis. Being different is not an illness and the current, best available science is not opinions – it’s facts,” she wrote on Twitter, from the boat she is currently sailing on back home.
“I honestly don’t understand why adults would choose to spend their time mocking and threatening teenagers and children for promoting science, when they could do something good instead. I guess they must simply feel so threatened by us.”
“But don’t waste your time giving them any more attention. The world is waking up. Change is coming wether they like it or not. See you in the streets this Friday!”