In August 2018, outside the Swedish parliament building, Greta Thunberg started a school strike for the climate. Photo: Anders Hellberg, August 31, 2018.

Greta Thunberg is everywhere lately. Which, frankly, is impressive for someone who refuses to fly because of the negative environmental impact. After a 15 day trip aboard a yacht (equiped with solar panels) to get to New York, she spoke passionately and eloquently to world leaders at the UN. But will they listen?

Sadly, her experience is that they will offer platitudes, but no concrete plans for change, let alone immediate change. Despite the overwhelming evidence showing that we are at–if not past–the tipping point for environmental catastrophe, inertia can be nearly impossible to overcome. Worse still, there those working actively against change.

Today’s youth–like Greta–are leading the charge against climate change. Which makes sense, as they will be the most affected by the world they’ll inherit. Even so, nearly every group in the US has at least some concerns about the environment–except older conservatives.

While one of the reasons for this is obvious–older generations are less personally affected by changes with a long-term impact (Brexit being a prime example)–another is more insidious. Admitting to and then making the necessary changes to combat climate change not only directly impacts the bottom line financially (OPEC, anyone?), but also challenges the status quo. Historically, industrialism has served white men around the world very well. Admitting that things need to change not only affects their profits, but also challenges their superiority. Though men are not the only ones opposing changes (everyone’s favorite conservative hate-tweet monger, Laura Ingraham, springs to mind), it is largely a culture of toxic masculinity, whining that climate change activists are just another branch of the war on men.

In retaliation, this (hopefully) dying breed have taken to attacking those at the forefront: in this case, Greta. Calling her followers “Gretards” (which is also a slur toward Greta directly, as she has Asperger’s), insinuating that she is mentally unstable (again, a slur against autism), and threatening her with child rape, are the only tools they have against her.

But, I suppose when the facts are against you, turn to hateful slurs to try and distract people from the truth.

Katie Weidmann
Girl News International

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