A conservative think tank, Heartland Institute, hired a 19-year old girl from Germany as their spokesperson in a disappointing attempt at galvanizing an anti-climate change movement. She is coined by the media as an “anti-Greta,”a foil to 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has begun a climate change movement among youth across nations. “Anti-Greta,” or Naomi Seibt, has spoken on Youtube and the Heartland Institute website about the necessity of a pushback against Thunberg’s eager calls for climate change reform.
In her most popular video, Seibt speaks about Heartland Institute’s position on the climate change movement, which she calls “climate alarmism,” and positions herself as an advocate for “climate realism.”
“The goal [of climate scientists] is to shame humanity. Climate change alarmism at its very core is a despicably anti-human ideology and we are told to look down at our achievements with guilt, with shame and disgust, and not even to take into account the many major benefits we have achieved by using fossil fuels as our main energy source,” Seibt said.
Despite her unwavering stance, Seibt uses the same emotional and rousing language as Thunberg, whose ideals towards activism is actively criticized in Seibt’s speech. She pushes the viewers’ focus away from the reality of climate change and takes a defensive approach that most conservatives in the U.S. government have utilized in the discussion of climate change. This is a simplifying approach to deflect the blame from humans to simply climate activists, deny the seriousness of it, and undermine the scientific data proving global climate change.
Seibt specifically builds this claim by relating climate change activism to “anti-human ideology.” However, what is anti-human about wanting to preserve the world for future generations? The conservative groups she represents are scared of being criticized for living as lavishly as they like and that in itself is anti-human. Out of fear of the effectiveness of a 17-year-old’s inspiring activism, they have produced their own fighter — one that ineffectively mirrors the youth figure who has inspired millions to mobilize and advocate for a more sustainable future for all living things.
It is wonderful that the younger generations are taking strong stances towards issues they believe in. However, what does it mean for an institution — especially a conservative think-tank — to use young people to advance their own political agendas? Even though seeing these kinds of processes happening can be demoralizing, there is power in recognizing the corrupt nature of these processes. Understanding the ways in which systems of power try to influence the public will help individuals not fall victim to them. We must continue to conduct our own research and form our own opinions about the topics we care about instead of falling prey to the political moves set forth by larger institutions and corporations.
Vian Nguyen is an Opinion Intern for the 2020 winter quarter. She can be reached at email@example.com.