We are in the midst of a climate emergency, and yet many right-wing figures continue to brush it off as ‘snowflake’ overdramatisation by the left. Leading the movement in an attempt to save civilisation is 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, who is currently on a zero-carbon journey sailing from Europe to America.
The teen has become the face of the climate campaign; since first embarking on her now-global school strikes, Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, released a book, and made her musical debut. And for some reason, these facts – as well as Thunberg’s determination to, you know, save the planet – fill the right-wing with a white hot rage.
In response to a bon voyage tweet by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas on Wednesday (August 14), businessman and leading Brexit Leave campaigner Arron Banks tweeted: “Freak yachting accidents do happen in August.” Wishing death on a teen with Asperger’s, cool!
As they always do, Banks attempted to blame his “joke” on the fact “lefties have no sense of humour” – it’s amazing he can’t see the irony of fighting the ‘snowflake generation’ while actively getting riled up by a teenager on a boat.
Right-wing loudmouth Julia Hartley-Brewer also got in on the action, gloating about increasing air travel emissions, writing: “Hi Greta, I’ve just booked some long haul flights for my family to enjoy some winter sun on the beach this Christmas. Level of guilt being felt: 0 per cent.”
Not only are these tweets incredibly childish, but they further the right-wing’s ongoing contempt for Thunberg. Earlier this month, the climate activist responded to continued trolling after an article by Australian newspaper the Herald Sun described the teen as “deeply disturbed”. Writing on Twitter, Thunberg questioned why “these hate and conspiracy campaigns are allowed to go on and on and on just because we children communicate and act on the science”, concluding: “Where are the adults?”
Thunberg’s question is valid. How can a 16-year-old have more sense and grace than those more than 30 years her senior? Hatred for Thunberg stems from a disdain not only for young people in general, but more broadly a fear of the unknown. Climate change is a relatively new anxiety, something baby boomers weren’t brought up to be aware of. Like veganism and social media, which have been widely mocked by right-wing agitators like Piers Morgan, debates about the climate hit a nerve with conservative ‘adults’ because their egotism doesn’t allow them to expand their minds and learn something new. They’re also terrified of being replaced by people with completely opposing ideologies – something Tory MPs themselves are already warning against.
“Debates about the climate hit a nerve with conservative ‘adults’ because their egotism doesn’t allow them to expand their minds and learn something new”
Logically speaking there is no reason for these figureheads to hate a teenager who is using her platform for positive change, and whose greatest impact on their lives is actually to communicate a message that will preserve the planet for their kids.
Thunberg’s critics also regularly use the argument that the teen is a “patsy for scared and elitist adults” who is “being exploited by her parents and every adult around her to further their political aims”. This assertion not only strips Thunberg of her agency, but attempts to exclude young people from the conversation by eradicating their vital impact on recent climate achievements. Worldwide generational divisions are more obvious than ever, exemplified most explicitly in the 2016 EU referendum, with right-wing commentators seemingly determined to widen them further.
Climate change is a global problem that transcends age, gender, and politics. Futile attempts to cause uproar over Thunberg reducing her carbon emissions only serve to further humiliate the nursery that is the UK right-wing. It’s high time these losers find something better to do with their time than act as keyboard warriors against a teenager who’s done more good in her A-level summer than they’ve done their whole lives.