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Business News/ Opinion / Columns/  Opinion | Greta Thunberg is the face of an outlandish ultra-left dream

Opinion | Greta Thunberg is the face of an outlandish ultra-left dream

The world is applauding the global-scale exploitation of a child who needs therapeutic care

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (AP file)Premium
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (AP file)

On 23 September, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old global icon of climate activism, spoke at the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019. The speech was deeply disturbing. The feral rage, the doomsday sermon delivered with messianic zeal, the distressing reminders of her young age. It leads me to ask a few questions.

She has admitted to suffering from Asperger’s, obsessive compulsive disorder and selective mutism. This is a girl who needs special attention, yet her parents and her radical-left handlers appear to be carting her around the world and exposing her constantly to high-stress situations to serve their own purpose, causing God-knows-what long-term damage to her. If this isn’t child abuse, I don’t know what is. And, the cleverly crafted perversity is that, with a child being the bearer of their propaganda, adults can be shamed freely if they criticize anything she says.

Days before her speech, kids around the world bunked school and went on strike to blame grown-ups for the “climate crisis", roaming the streets, shrieking about something few of them had any clue about. If I were a well-off school kid, I’d have joined, too. No classes, freedom to take selfies, while publicly abusing parents, have some pizza, then go back to the parental home’s comforts, almost all of which exist due to fossil-fuelled power.

I can bet that 90% of people who support Thunberg and the climate strikes never bothered to check what they really stand for. It’s easy. Go to and click on “What are you asking for?" Among the demands—immediately ban fossil fuels, etc.—is “climate justice". Click on that and you’ll reach, “people" being a coalition of hard-left activist groups. Their demands involve rejecting carbon capture and storage, carbon trading, geo-engineering, biofuels, and use of any technology or market mechanisms to cut carbon emissions. Only community-led climate solutions that recognize the traditional knowledge, practices and wisdom of indigenous peoples and local communities will be permitted.

In sum, Thunberg represents a movement that wants us to revert to a pre-industrial world, with no room for innovation or progress. This is not laughable fantasy. It has been tried out, in real life. By Pol Pot. He killed off 25% of Cambodia’s population in the process. This is what a misguided vision can result in. And she, Thunberg, was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, or the “Alternative Nobel Prize", on Wednesday. The Nobel Peace Prize may be next.

Of course, we should act against climate change. But panic, which is what Thunberg wants us to do, is not a rational response. Even if global temperatures rise by 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, nothing cataclysmic will happen. And, apocalyptic predictions are hardly new. In 1989, a United Nations Environment Programme director warned that “entire nations could be wiped [out] by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by 2000". In 2006, Al Gore said we had “10 years" to solve the problem. In 2007, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave us till 2012. And Gore and IPCC even got the Nobel! IPCC has just released another doomsday scenario. Since bad news sells, it’s made headlines. No one bothers to check that IPCC is wrong all the time.

Human history is the history of innovation. We didn’t move out of the Stone Age because we ran out of stones, but because we discovered how to mine and forge metals. Poverty is the biggest problem facing humanity, and escaping poverty requires enormous energy. Thunberg and her well-fed handlers don’t care what a momentous difference an electric or gas connection makes to the life and future of a poor family. That family desperately needs a cheap stable source of energy and, today, fossil fuel provides that. Thunberg would rather have them gathering firewood and picking berries.

Across the world, CO2 emissions per US dollar of gross domestic product have followed a curve—it rises as a country industrializes fast, and then falls steadily (India hit a peak in the mid-1990s and it has been dropping since then). Carbon intensity for the world has been declining for half a century now.

Of course, that’s not enough. But what we need is not crazed leftist plans that will keep the poor helpless, but greater research in green energy that can create alternatives that are cheaper and more attractive than fossil fuels, so we can lift a billion people out of poverty faster. Global warming will then automatically taper off. We need patience and confidence in human ingenuity, not venal fear-mongering.

The truth is this: Hard-left ideologues are using children to blackmail the world into paying heed to their dangerous agendas. Kids are susceptible because they are passionate and easily provoked. But what about the countless adults who treat Greta Thunberg like a child-prophet? How are they different from members of some medieval cult? This is a girl who needs therapeutic care. This is child exploitation on a global scale which we are applauding and awarding. We should be ashamed.

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Published: 27 Sep 2019, 02:46 PM IST
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