Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to New York Times, the Greta effect is bypassing climate skeptics and reaching everyone who matters.
How the Climate Kids Are Short-Circuiting Right-Wing Media
Young people like Greta Thunberg are participating in the culture wars while also managing to float above the fray.
By Charlie Warzel
Mr. Warzel is an Opinion writer at large.
Sept. 26, 2019
The kids aren’t just all right they’re scrambling the brains of their political enemies.
Ms. Thunberg has been the primary target of this vitriol. On Saturday, the pro-Trump media figure Dinesh D’Souza likened Ms. Thunberg to models in Nazi propaganda. Videos of her speeches have been edited to replace her voice with Adolf Hitler’s. On Fox News on Monday evening, the Daily Wire pundit Michael Knowles called Ms. Thunberg who is open about being on the autism spectrum “a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents.” (Fox News issued an apology and called the comment disgraceful.)
She does not allow her message that the youth of the world have been betrayed by past generations’ inaction on climate change to be co-opted by fawning lawmakers, and she dismisses their praise for her as a tragic role reversal that forces her to be the adult in a room of well-dressed children. And she seems keenly aware that her rivals’ critiques are merely efforts to divert her attention. 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, she wrote of her haters on Twitter on Wednesday.
The usual tactics of the right-wing media break down in the face of this type of resolve. While outrage campaigns intended to work the refs and appeal to fears of appearing partisan may work with lawmakers or companies in Silicon Valley, the youth climate movement appears wholly unmoved. While the levers for climate progress proposed by solutions like a Green New Deal are undoubtedly political, the broader movement’s desire an inhabitable earth for all is far from partisan. The stakes, as the movement sees it, are too high to focus attention on the trolls. And the pressure, from conservative pundits and Breitbart contributors, doesn’t just get dismissed, it goes unnoticed.
In other words, it’s not that the right can’t attack the climate kids because of their age. Rather, it’s that because of their age, the right’s attacks feel especially feeble.Read more (paywalled): https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/opinion/climate-change-greta-thunberg.html
The factor Charlie is ignoring is the Greta effect only works on people who already believe climate change is a problem. I doubt Charlie has met anyone in his personal circle who doesn’t believe Greta is a new Joan of Arc. Perhaps he thinks criticism of Greta and climate skepticism is a right wing fabrication, unrepresentative of society as a whole.
In my opinion Greta is a polarizing figure, who does nothing to build bipartisan support for climate action. She energises believers, but horrifies skeptics, who are reminded of society’s failure to protect a vulnerable child every time she appears on the media.