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Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Photo: Anders Hellberg/Effekt)

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Photo: Anders Hellberg/Effekt)

Attacks on Greta Thunberg, Say Allies, Show Just How 'Terrified' Reactionary Forces Have Become of Global Climate Movement

"When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go," said 16-year-old climate activist. "And then you know you're winning!"

Jon Queally

Champions of Greta Thunberg—and the 16-year-old climate activist herself—hit back against malicious right-wing bullies over the weekend as she called her Asperger's syndrome diagnosis a "superpower" and her defenders said there is but one reason that people attack the person who has galvanized the global climate strike movement: they are afraid of her.

"The bile thrown at Greta Thunberg is motivated by one thing alone: this incredibly intelligent, eloquent and compassionate 16 year old has terrified some of the most hateful and reactionary so-called 'grown ups' on earth." —Owen Jones"The bile thrown at Greta Thunberg is motivated by one thing alone: this incredibly intelligent, eloquent, and compassionate 16-year-old has terrified some of the most hateful and reactionary so-called 'grown ups' on earth," said British political columnist activist Owen Jones. "She's achieved more [at age] 16 than they ever will."

Following her recent arrival in the United States to attend rallies outside the United Nations and promote a week of international climate strike actions, taking place from Sept. 20 - 27, Thunberg on Saturday suggested that a fresh wave of criticism directed at her from climate science denialists and right-wingers—including those mocking her Asperger's diagnosis—exposes much more about them than her.

"I'm not public about my diagnosis to 'hide' behind it, but because I know many ignorant people still see it as an 'illness', or something negative," Thunberg added. "And believe me, my diagnosis has limited me before."

In a column on Al-Jazeera English published Monday, writer Andrew Mitrovica came to the defense of Thunberg as he referred to those attacking her as "scientifically illiterate bullies." According to Mitrovica, agreeing with Jones, it is Thunberg's attributes—including her fearlessness and abilility to speak and act so matter-of-factly—that makes hers such a potent voice. He writes:

She disdains celebrity. She makes no claim to heroism. She rebuffs efforts to idolise her. She isn't calculating or preoccupied with fame or ego. There is no artifice about her.  She speaks plainly, without affectation or embroidery. 

In words and deeds, Thunberg is the embodiment of philosopher Howard Zinn's admonition: "We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can quietly become a power no government can suppress, a power that can transform the world."

Meanwhile, in an interview with the UK's Channel 4 News, Thunberg said she has nothing to say to people who refuse to believe in the scientific warnings about the climate crisis.

Asked if there was still time to address the planetary emergency, Thunberg said, "Yes, we do. We still have time. But that time will not last for long so we need to something now and we need to do it quickly and we need to do it drastically."

But while part of Thunberg's story lends itself to the notion that "one person can make a difference," she is also the first to acknowledge that it is going to demand massive collective action—from everyone and all over the world—to solve the climate emergency.


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