The Greta Thunberg hate train

Why conservatives’ hatred for Greta Thunberg is ignorant and shameful

Claire Yang

From being named Time’s 2019 Person of the Year to galvanizing 4 million people to participate in a global climate strike, Greta Thunberg is undoubtedly one of the world’s most influential people in the world today — and she’s only 17 years old.

In August 2018, Thunberg protested alone, sitting on the cobblestones alone in front of the Swedish parliament. Less than two years later, she’s leading millions.

Thunberg striking alone outside of the Swedish parliament with a sign that says, “School strike for climate”. Photo by Michael Campanella (The Guardian)

Just a few days ago, Thunberg was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize a second time, becoming the youngest nominee ever. She has garnered a massive following over the years, sharing her journey organizing strikes and making speeches across the world with her 9.8 million Instagram followers and 4 million Twitter followers. In her feature on Time magazine, editors lauded Thunberg for “succeed[ing] in creating a global attitudinal shift [and] transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change.”

She has fought her way up to the world stage, but despite her admirable efforts to help the world realize that climate change is a very real and serious threat to humanity, the young activist still has her fair share of critics. Some simply disagree with her arguments or style of activism, while her more extreme haters have linked her speeches to Nazi propaganda and even threatened to assassinate her.

In Thunberg’s passionate and tearful address to the UN last September, she chastised the world leaders before her, saying, “People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

On CNN’s instagram posts about Greta Thunberg, the comment sections are filled with hate comments. Photos by Claire Yang

The speech was praised by climate researchers, including Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change & Development in Bangladesh, who thought that “it was the most powerful speech [he has] ever seen.” He states that Thunberg has done what many climate scientists have failed to do: “getting people to listen.”

However, when the internet caught wind of Thunberg’s furious “How dare you” speech, haters swarmed in, attacking her looks, calling her insincere and even mocking her Asperger syndrome. President Donald Trump also decided to weigh in on the issue, tweeting mockingly at Thunberg, “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”

While Thunberg, unfazed by the remarks, promptly changed her Twitter bio to “A very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future”, her critics completely missed the point of her fervent activism. What Thunberg says in her speeches is what scientists have been saying for the past decade. While some of Thunberg’s descriptions mannerisms may come off as exaggerated, she is backed by science, and her critics need to realize that Thunberg is only an activist — she isn’t claiming to be a climate scientist or policymaker, she’s just there to spread the message about climate change. 


Political differences aside, the amount of hate Thunberg, a teenage girl, has received from full-grown conservative men and women since the start of her activist career is inexcusable. What’s even worse is that part of the hate may stem from her young age; the fact that a child holds so much influence in the political world and is trying to educate people on an urgent issue unsettles some conservative adults. There’s no doubt that when political views clash, it’s easy to forget that Thunberg is still a child. Nonetheless, that doesn’t make the death threats and slanderous comments acceptable. Standing before us on a world stage is an ordinary teenage girl who is only trying to look out for her own and millions of others’ futures, and the least we can do is listen.