Activism, Top Stories

When Children Protest, Adults Should Tell them the Truth

Last Friday, children in over 120 countries skipped school to follow the example of a Swedish 16-year-old who has become an international icon of climate change activism. Greta Thunberg’s extensive media coverage has made her a familiar figure—large almond-shaped eyes, brown plaited hair, serious expression, and diminutive stature. This month she was named Swedish Woman of the Year and also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by three socialist Norwegian MPs. She has spoken to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference and she has delivered a talk to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Her achievements are extraordinarily impressive for a young girl suffering, by her own account, from several mental health issues.

Thunberg is inspiring thousands of schoolchildren to join her skolstrejk för klimatet, or “school strike for the climate.” She has dedicated every Friday to this cause since August 2018, following her first full-time strike. Inspired by the teen activists in Florida who organised the March For Our Lives in response to the shooting at Parkland school, Thunberg’s protests outside the Swedish Parliament and clever speeches—a TedxStockholm talk in November 2018 and rallies in Hamburg and London—have brought a fresh face to the environmental movement. Her activism has received uncritical adulation from public figures and world leaders, including Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel and US Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, who tweeted:

There’s no doubt Thunberg is an eloquent, courageous, and precociously intelligent activist and an example to young people who care about the earth and its future. But it is precisely because she is such a popular and effective campaigner that it is important to scrutinise her message. In his Spectator column, Toby Young did just that and concluded that her message is nonsense:

Greta Thunberg is everywhere, appearing at Davos, giving a TED talk, speaking at the UN Climate Conference in Katowice, and her message is always the same. Western governments are doing nothing to combat climate change. She isn’t saying they’re not doing enough. No. She claims they’re not doing anything. “Everyone keeps saying that climate change is an existential threat and the most important issue of all and yet they just carry on like before,” she says in her TED talk. “You would think the media and every one of our leaders would be talking about nothing else, but they never even mention it.”

Never mention it? One of the placards often held up by climate change protesters says there’s no “Planet B,” but Greta does appear to have been living on another planet for the past 16 years.

Criticising a teenage girl with good intentions will not make a person especially popular, and Young’s Twitter mentions were duly filled with scornful critics. “I’ve never known,” remarked one tweeter, “a grown man to get triggered so easily by a child.” The medium of childlike innocence has become the environmental message, and been placed on a pedestal above criticism. But, given her own insistence on the vital urgency of the matter at hand, heartwarming optics ought to be rather less important than the lack of substance. Thunberg’s rhetoric has a tendency to lapse into demagogy—simplistic, emotive, accusatory, and apocalyptic. “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes,” she has sullenly instructed the assembled adults. And: “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is—even that burden you leave to us children.” The only “sensible” thing to do, she claims, is to “pull the emergency brake.” 

What that would mean in practice? Thunberg is not detained by details. Culturico explains that she represents the “dark green” environmentalists, who blame a combination of overpopulation and technology for our changing environment. The “light green” view, on the other hand, is that overpopulation is not a problem per se, and that technology will be the answer to coping with climate change, not “pulling the emergency brake” by halting CO2 emissions. Thunberg admits that her preferred solution is not “politically possible,” but this has only convinced her of the need to “change the system.” Her ideas are emblematic of a radical environmentalism aligned with a far-Left anti-capitalism, and parts of her speeches could be mistaken for the recital of a revolutionary manifesto. “We have come here,” Thunberg proclaims, “to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.”

Is this a message that children should be served without debate? In Edinburgh, the city council took the unusual step of endorsing the 15 March protest outside the Scottish Parliament, and encouraging children to take part. The council’s vice-convener for education Alison Dickie told the BBC that, “I am utterly proud of our young people. There can be no more powerful learning experience than getting actively involved in real life global issues, such as action on climate breakdown. I’m proud too that we are choosing to celebrate, rather than stifle, the positive energy of our young people, and it showcases the very caring and responsible citizens we are shaping across our schools.” Schools also supported the protests. But who are they to act as the moral arbiters of political issues? From here on out, can we expect councils and schools to take a position every time a march is organised? 

Thunberg’s message is also profoundly cynical and pessimistic: “Our civilisation is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few,” she says. Today, Thunberg is a vegan and has renounced air travel. She claims to be independent, but in Katowice, where she spoke at the COPD24 conference, she informed her audience that she was speaking on behalf of Climate Justice Now!, a lobby group which describes itself as a “network of organisations and movements from across the globe committed to the fight for social, ecological, and gender justice.” The organisation believes that, since the northern hemisphere has caused emission levels to get too high in the first place, it should pay for the sins of the southern hemisphere. But in order to get emissions down, developing countries like India will have to get on board, or what developed countries do won’t matter all that much. Of the most polluting countries—US, India, China, Russia, Japan, and the EU nations—only India’s carbon emissions are rising (almost five percent in 2016) according to the Guardian. Although its emissions per person are miniscule, the size of India’s population means that its efforts to combat global warming will matter a great deal.

“Why should I be studying for a future that soon will be no more, when no one is doing anything to save that future?” Thunberg asks. This is a bleak and desperate view of the world, espoused by a girl fortunate enough to live comfortably (her mother is a famous opera singer) in one of its safest and richest countries. Not only is it melodramatic, but it is almost certainly counter-productive. Demands that people panic and warnings that the metaphorical house is on fire might make for effective rhetoric, but her counsel of despair is a strange way to inspire young people.

Thunberg says she has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an obsessive compulsive disorder, and selective mutism, and that she has suffered from depression and eating disorders that have stunted her growth. Although her fortitude in front of world leaders and the media’s cameras show that mental health issues need not stand in the way of becoming a highly visible public person, her mindset still seems to be mired in gloom. Mental health issues are reportedly on the rise among young people, with one in eight children aged between five and 19 receiving a diagnosis of one kind or another according to official UK figures. The appeal of someone like Thunberg may be symptomatic of a wider pessimism among the younger generation. One wonders if such a vulnerable young girl should be spearheading an international movement that attracts so much attention.

The protests in front of parliaments and city halls last Friday were largely peaceful, but in some cities the children were joined by organisations like Extinction Rebellion, which advocates direct action and in the past has closed streets and blocked bridges. In New York, 17 people from this group were arrested after a crowd of several thousand rallied on a bridge near Central Park. In London, police had to intervene after the young protesters brought the traffic outside parliament to a standstill. Some also climbed a statue of Sir Winston Churchill and hung placards on David Lloyd George, while others chanted obscenities about the prime minister and raised their fists in unison. UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres responded by praising the students: “My generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change,” he wrote on Friday. “No wonder they are angry.” 

Historically, protests have met with mixed results—some like the Civil Rights Movement have changed whole societies, whereas others like the Occupy protests fizzled out having achieved very little (although protests can sometimes lead to longterm shifts in attitudes that are harder to measure). Perhaps the most reliable benefit of activism is the feeling of righteousness it offers its participants. “I don’t trust the activist ethos at all,” Jordan Peterson has remarked. “Everything about it is superficial and trendy and too easy, and it externalises the blame—the evil is always elsewhere.” The West, he went on, is based on the idea of the divine individual: “If we subsume that under group identity, then we will perish painfully.”

Bjorn Lomborg, author of Cool It and The Skeptical Environmentalist, tweeted: “Thunberg’s solution to ‘just say no’ is not only naive and impossible. Trying to attain it will incur tens or even hundreds of trillions of dollars of net costs.” Those costs would have a dramatic impact on the way of life these protesting schoolchildren presently take for granted. Lomborg argues that instead of ploughing more money into inefficient solar and wind power, more should be invested in innovating green energy to make it so cheap it eventually undercuts fossil fuels and halts climate change for good.

The climate debate is a complicated one. It requires the careful weighing of interests and trade-offs, not the uncompromising fanaticism of an absolutist. A sixteen-year-old should not be expected to see all the nuances, but as adults, we should expose her ideas for what they are: undemocratic, fatalistic, and bereft of the hope and optimism needed to effect consequential change. Thunberg’s speeches and Manichean worldview do not offer realistic answers to the problems we face. Even if her most alarming predictions turn out to be true, solutions will have to rely upon innovation and a realistic assessment of what is possible. Activism might be driven by passionate conviction and founded on good intentions, but as Saul Alinsky, the radical American writer and community organiser, once observed: “Young protagonists are one moment reminiscent of the idealistic early Christians, yet they also urge violence and cry, ‘Burn the system down!’ They have no illusions about the system, but plenty of illusions about the way to change our world.”


Kathrine Jebsen Moore grew up in Norway, studied Media and Print Journalism in London, and worked at Bloomberg News until 2009, covering financial news, specialising in oil & gas and fishing. She now lives with her husband and four children in Edinburgh. She is a freelance writer and you can follow her on Twitter @moorjebsen


  1. mitchellporter says

    The title says, “When Children Protest, Adults Should Tell them the Truth”. But perhaps another principle is, “When Essayists Call for ‘the Truth’ to be Said, They Should Provide Some Reasons to Regard it as True”. I don’t actually see an argument against Thunberg’s positions here.

    • Anonymous says

      Since Thunberg’s “positions” don’t actually constitute an argument (“Why is nobody doing anything about climate change ?” ) – no counter argument is needed in this case.

      • In some small defense the case has been made convincingly and repeatedly, but that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t be familiar with it and able to readily summon it.

        The larger problem is that she’s simply too young to see herself in her own accusations:
        “Everyone keeps saying that climate change is an existential threat and the most important issue of all and yet they just carry on like before,” she says in her TED talk.

        It’s like, yeah, you might wonder if that’s YOU, not just right now but even more so in 12 years, when you might have kids and a house and commutes and a litany of mostly unnecessary electronics packed with rare earth minerals. You’ll be too tired at the end of the day to make any meaningful sacrifices (recycling is hardly heavy lifting), and continue to shame the oil CEO who sells you the gas you won’t go without, quietly tolerating your kids while they go through the same phase. The general ratio of activism to putting-one’s-money-where-one’s-mouth-is, is horribly vast. And kudos to that trash clean up hashtag thing going on, that’s something, at least (still waiting on that #EnvironmentalismSoWhite though). Granted, I don’t know her or Sweden, but it’s a safe bet.

        The March for Our Lives movement at least clears this hurdle, although it’s so entirely ignorant and vague it just looks like a caricature of panic.

        • EDIT: Turns out she is vegan and has renounced air travel, I missed that part. So that’s certainly something, although veganism does seem to defy pretty well established human dietary requirements, and I am curious as to how her other forms of transportation compare. Flying doesn’t seem to be a routine point of environmentalist concern.

          • E. Olson says

            I was wondering about her renouncing of air travel, since she seems to be invited to speak all over the world. Is she taking the train everywhere, or is she just the usual hypocrite who renounces stuff while continuing to do them herself – after all, she has places to be, people to see, and a planet to save.

          • Stephanie says

            Being vegan isn’t very impressive when your mom or your mom’s cooks are buying your food and cooking for you. If she keeps it up for a few years even when she has to pay for and cook her own food, that will be something. But still something millions of people do.

            Hipster chicks like her inevitably end up going backpacking in Thailand, so I doubt she’ll keep up the no flying thing for long.

          • Jonathan Smith says

            She has also outlined a history of eating disorders. I’m not trying to impugn her motivation for her diet but veganism is used in many cases to mask self imposed dietary restrictions.

          • David Bergum says

            It’s not like we use giant diesel burning combines to grow vegetables….

          • anonymous says

            Having eating disorders is not a problem?

        • Mia Pedersen says

          Greta is a vegan, goes by train or by electric car, has forced her mother to switch careers in order to stop flying and refuse to buy new stuff – everything she wears and uses are hand me downs or bought second hand. I would say that she walks the walk.

          As for the other argument – if measures have been taken to slow down the emissions of green house gasses why then are they continuing to increase? If measures for a decrease of emissions still lead to increased emissions can you honestly say that the problem is being dealt with? All I see is lots of green wash on a dying planet.

          • Mia, when the girl uses no electricity at all, including lights, cell phones and laptops, when she eats only food grown without the use of machines, or wears clothing made entirely by hand, maybe I’ll say she walks the walk. For now she’s an ignorant narcissistic little brat.

          • Jay Salhi says

            Emissions continue to increase because industrial civilization is powered by fossil fuels and it will continue to be that way for the foreseeable future. This conversation was brought to you by fossil fuels. So was your job, your heat, your electricity, your healthcare and just about every aspect of the modern world. Take away fossil fuels (without adequate replacements that do not currently exist) and it all goes away in dystopian fashion. Energy = wealth, prosperity and modernity.

          • Pirkka Jokela says

            EU green house emissions are not rising:

            That is not green wash. You can say that it is not enough, but it is not nothing.

            Globally the emissions are rising, because less developed countries have – understandably – wanted to increase the standard of living of their poor populations. But they will come around to reducing emissions too. Chinese emissions may already have peaked:

            Note that I am not saying that we are doing all that is possible. I am not saying that we are doing enough. I am just saying that we actually are doing something and many people are working on this problem and some progress is being made. Is the rate of lowering emissions enough? I guess that depends on what we mean by enough. The climate will change more and there will be adverse effects, but hopefully we can end up with a livable planet.

            So, what we should say to Greta is that what she is doing is great, but she is not quite correct: many others are also working on this and we have some results to show for it.

          • @Jay Salhi Thank you sir. He hits it exactly on the head. At present, the technology simply doesn’t exist to replace fossil fuels, even if we converted ALL power plants to nuclear(which environmentalists on the whole completely reject mostly out of ignorance to the current state of the technology.) And emissions continue to increase, despite the efforts of the developed world, because much of the rest of the world is modernizing to the living standards of the west. Not hard to understand mia.

          • JWatts says

            ” if measures have been taken to slow down the emissions of green house gasses why then are they continuing to increase? ”

            Because the third world is growing rapidly. The bulk of emissions growth over the last 20 years is from developing countries. There’s no way to force them to stay poor.

        • There will come a day when Greta renounces everything she said. I have pretty much renounced everything I said, thought or believed when I was sixteen. Why would I assume that my sixteen year old self was wiser than fifty two.

          • david says

            Aren’t there exceptions to that rule? Can this be one of them? I mean, We aren’t talking about bell bottoms & being mortified at how you dressed a decade ago..Is this young girls warnings commensurate with the urgency (and some might say “emergency”) of global warming’s threat to life on earth?..How much of the house is on fire? Is it just the trash can in the driveway? Is it the patio extension? Or is the roof on fire?! How serious you think this is will dictate your response to it. To this girl and many others, earths natural beauty and life as we know it is at stake. Correct her, yes, but hold the condescension please. This is complicated stuff and belittling trivializes something that warrants respect and attention.

        • Patrick says

          I believe it is for this very reason that most activists point out that policy change at the governmental level is more important than individual behavior shifts. One person buying an EV and foregoing gas is ineffective. A government policy that promotes phasing out gas for EVs is a far better foundation for change. Ms. Thunberg seems to understand this which makes her anger and frustration understandable .

      • S. Cheung says

        Anonymous – I’m all for Hitchen’s Razor, and it’s very apropos for use on churchy types. BUt seems a little harsh here. More than nothing has been done; but there is a legit argument that not enough has been done (although certainly not a consensus). I don’t think a little hyperbole on her part is sufficient to negate her entire message.

        And I actually think the author is needlessly petty here. i agree that Thunberg has placed herself in the public domain, and her age is no longer a legit shield for criticism. But the author is mostly playing the “she’s just a little girl” trope, rather than offering counterpoints.

        • If at the end of it all her base message boils down to “there are too many people on Earth” then her final solution is mass exterminations. Far too many of these “caring and concerned” environmentalists in the end just want killling in a scale never seen before in history. And were told they are our “betters”. In the end this girl is a monster who want death and destruction for all who do not obey her. She’s an absolute god damned tyrant. Do not tell me to “be polite” to someone who wants nothing less than to see me and a billion others dead.

          • Boris says

            “In the end this girl is a monster who want death”

            This is an incredible stupid statement. The kind of person who makes it should get some therapy or maybe stay off the internet for a while.

          • Sean says

            Projecting much? What kind of twisted mind does it take to ascribe to a young well intentioned activist the most extreme, most unlikely, and most macabre solution to a problem I’m not even sure she’s voiced? If indeed her base message was “there are too many people on earth”, the obvious solution would be to provide incentives that reduced human reproduction. But it’s a lot easier to trash someone when your making shit up, isn’t it?

          • S. Cheung says

            WW – “final solution is mass exterminations” … someone may well be fear-mongering here, but I don’t think it’s who you think it is…

          • Ruth Henriquez Lyon says

            This is weird. They don’t want exterminations; no one is talking about that. Those who are worried about unfettered population growth would like to see the birth rate slow down. And that is already happening on its own so it may be a moot point in 20 years. But to call this young girl a monster who wants people to “obey” her sounds really shrill and paranoid. Calm down already.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Is this supposed to be an adult truth with no mentioned alternative and disparaging the two most prominent green energy solutions?
      “Lomborg argues that instead of ploughing more money into inefficient solar and wind power, more should be invested in innovating green energy to make it so cheap it eventually undercuts fossil fuels and halts climate change for good.”

      • Sylv says

        Lomborg makes a nice living being a middle-of-the-road climate contrarian for hire. A political science PhD who likes to pretend he’s an expert in economics or environmental science when it suits him, he’s written a couple books that everybody who owns an oil refinery agrees you should read. Most notable for his position that anthropogenic climate change is real but probably won’t be that bad (and besides, doing anything to address would be expensive!) Lomborg’s “research” has been repeatedly discredited (see above re. “not a scientist, or even an economist,”) and yet thanks to his popularity with certain fossil-fuel industry-funded think tanks, he refuses to go away.

        Seeing Lomborg’s name on any climate argument should be a red flag to alert readers — beware, here be nonsense! Proceed at your own peril. The arguments that follow will be explicitly designed to make doing nothing seem like the only reasonable option.

        If you’ve ever been faced with a crisis and decided that your best course of action was to take a nap, Lomborg is the climate expert for you.

        • You ridicule Lomborg’s doubts and cost analyses, but could I ask you for one thing before we dismantle western civilization to “fight climate change”. Could you damn catastrophic climate change alarmists get some god damned predictions right before we destroy the entire economy? Every long term prediction ends up wrong. Droughts in the American Midwes, wrong, Polar icecap being gone, wrong, More hurricanes, wrong, Ocean rise, always way less than estimated, Temperature rises, always less than estimated. Models, always way over estimating trends.

          Climate alarmists never get any predictions right and yet we’re supposed to sacrifice modern society to fix a problem that is just frankly not as bad as we’re being told. And never mind that if you collapse the economy of the globe to “fix” this problem, millions upon millions will starve and die.

          Again, what this little girl wants for the world is monsterous and destructive. She deserves no respect.

          • Boris says

            “Every long term prediction ends up wrong.”
            These sniveling lies get tiresome.

            “Droughts in the American Midwes”
            No idea what this refers to.

            “polar icecap being gone, wrong”
            One scientist did predict this, sort of. Most others pushed back against it. None of that matters to people who lie about this issue. Arctic sea ice extent is far below model projections.

            “More hurricanes, wrong”
            The IPCC doesn’t project more hurricanes, but stronger ones–half a storm category by 2050.

            Anyway, denialists will do anything to support their lies, including demonizing and demeaning a sixteen year old girl. Such brave men.

          • Tom Udo says

            WW, you are too smart for climate religionists like this “Boris”. Unfortunately, ignoring such clowns doesn’t make them go away.

      • Ketil says

        While I agree with Lomborg that solar and wind are not sufficient – the former is just a way to take a large (and expensive) climate hit upfront, hoping emissions will be paid back in the future, while intermittency of wind means tying our energy supply to natural gas backup power, which is basically the only source that can be rapidly adjusted in sufficient scale.

        However, hoping that “green energy” will drive down prices enough to make fossils unprofitable is hopelessly utopian – there are huge oil reserves that are profitable down to $10/barrel or so. I have no idea how much energy we need to cut prices by 80%, but I’m pretty sure it is a lot. For the money we spend on Energiewende and related efforts we could replace all European electricity with nuclear in a few years – but even if we do, oil and gas will flow elsewhere, it is simply to cheap and useful. Large countries like SA and Iran heavily depend on oil income to remain stable – oil is paying for the world’s fourth largest military, for instance – so hoping they will cap production out of the kindness of their hearts is…rather optimistic.

        All posturing aside, our best bet is preparing for the inevitable.

        • ga gamba says

          For the money we spend on Energiewende and related efforts we could replace all European electricity with nuclear in a few years

          My reply is not to knock your advocacy of nuclear power, but to state we have only have a handful of construction companies with the technical know-how to pull off Gen IV design projects. Nuclear power is so expensive and time consuming to build not only because of the complex engineering, exacting standards, and advanced manufacturing technology that is used to ensure safe operation, but also because as an industry in decline the number of personnel capable to do so has also been in decline. Greater demand and low supply leads to what?

          One of the most recent projects to come online soon is the first of four 1,345 MW nuclear units at Barakah, UAE – the other three will begin operation in the coming years. The contract was awarded in 2009, construction started in 2012, so it’s a roughly a decade, and that was without legal holdups common to the West. Presently there are 50 nuclear reactors being built worldwide, most in the developing world, with completion dates from this year to 2026; there are 450 operating around the world currently, and they generate about 10% of the world’s electricity.

          The US Energy Information Agency writes: The amount of electricity that a power plant generates during a period of time depends on the amount of time it operates at a specific capacity. For example, if the R. E. Ginna reactor operates at 582 MW capacity for 24 hours, it will generate 13,968 megawatthours (MWh). If the reactor generated that amount of electricity every day of the year, it would generate 5,098,320 MWh. However, most power plants do not operate a full capacity every hour of every day of the year. In 2017, the R. E. Ginna nuclear power plant actually generated 4,697,675 MWh (4.7 TWh). [about 92% of capacity]

          If we look at a country with no nuclear reactors, for example Poland, its present annual electricity consumption is 149.40 billion KWh (149.4 TWh). Poland would need to build 32 nuclear reactors comparable to the R. E. Ginna reactor, but additional ones would be needed to deal with increased demand as well as operating below 100% capacity. Some demand growth and reactor downtime can be offset by alternate energy technology such as biomass and hydro as well as solar and wind.

          Yet, per capita Poland isn’t a large consumer of electricity. In 2016 it was 3,686 kW per person annually. If the Poles attained German levels of prosperity and consumption, that’s 6,602 kWh. Still, that’s quite low compared to many other developed nations. Northern Europeans such as Norway, Sweden, Finland are 24,006 kWh,12,853 kWh, and 14,732 kWh, respectively. North America is 14,930 kWh for Canada and 12,071 kWh by the US. If the Poles dared to aspire to Liechtenstein’s level, that’s 35,848 kWh annually.

          And if all the internal combustion vehicles are replaced by electric ones? Surely a significant spike to demand and more stress on the grid, which would have to be upgraded. And let’s not forget all the work needed to retrofit homes, apartments, and workplaces to provide the capability recharge these.

          Keep in mind there are other issues to be addressed, for example uranium mining, its enrichment by gas centrifugation for the power plants, which would likely require the construction of more facilities to meet demand increase, and, of course, the very contentious waste transportation and storage. And we shouldn’t ignore the delays due to lawsuits involving all of these.

          There would be a long lag time to catch up to demand, and likely demand would exceed supply for quite a long while due to all the knock-on effects. On the bright side, there are economies of scale in terms of having identical designs with the same requirements for construction, fueling, operation and maintenance.

          • And your alternative to nuclear is what exactly? Passing laws to ban use of fossil fuels and plunging us back into an future agriaian nightmare? So nuclear is hard, it’s the only viable zero emission technology that will effectively scale. As hard as you make it out to be, it is infinitely easier and better to do than to force people into annihilating their standards of living all the way back to dirt farmer to solve the problem.

          • Bill says

            But the spike for electric vehicles impacts all sources, not just nuclear. How many additional coal/natural gas/oil/solar/wind facilities would need to be built over time for the increasing demand? Do not conflate a sound argument (building 32 nuclear reactors “now”) with purported financial negatives which expose a bias where they may not be one. Construction of 32 reactors, say you can start all now, 10 year build, by the time you get that done the 32 is insufficient so just like any other capacity planning exercise, the real number (assume operation at 92% capacity and a 15% consumption growth) gets you up near 40 to start. An unmanageable number.

            The other omitted fact to the “must build large #s of reactors” argument is it ignores that the current power generation depreciation which occurs. Countries must construct addititional non-nuclear generators, as I mentioned before for new demand, but also as replacement. This is particularly true of solar and wind which have far more limited life spans than fossil fuel burning plants. Solar panels require replacement every 15 years last I read. Wind generators…. ? Long lasting plants, like hydro, are the exception. Not to mention the vulnerability of certain plant types to Mother Nature which others are not — an requiring further excess capacity to accommodate repairs.

            It really comes down to large numbers of small generators with excess to handle partial/constant maintenance windows, or several large which must be built for extreme reliability because a failure has a bigger impact. Tip: we’ve been facing this in IT for years…do I build 50 small servers or 10 large ones. Each perspective has positives and negatives, you have to weight cost against residual risk.

          • ga gamba says

            People, I support nuclear energy. You need to analyse things in aggregate or else you’re making the same mistake the only solar & wind crowd are making.

            I am highlighting the wishful thinking that nuclear is the quick fix of a “few years”. It isn’t. If 450 existing reactors handle about 10% of world demand, you’re looking at approximately 4500 (assuming same mix of generation capacity, which is a large assumption) to handle almost all of the world demand at present level, one that is sure to increase as more of the developing world develops. I hesitate to make such an extrapolation because there are several variables at play determining the number of reactors needed. Global electricity generation in 2017 was 25,570 TWh. Energy demand is expected to grow by about 27% worldwide from 2017 to 2040. That’s 32,500 TWh in 2040. That’s your target.

            If you’re in France that gets a whopping 75% of electricity from nuclear, might think you’re sitting pretty. Not so fast. The bulk of its 58 nuclear reactors was built in the 1980s and 1990s. France has not brought on stream a new reactor since 2002 and the one new reactor being built is three times over budget and years behind schedule. Even if the lives of its plants were extended from 40 to 60 years, in itself an expensive proposition, 75 per cent of its nuclear generating capacity would be gone by 2050. Only Ninety-two of the world’s 450 reactors are 20 years old or newer, and most of these 92 are in the developing world, chiefly China. China’s reactor fleet’s average age is 8 years; the rest of the world’s is 29. In the US utility companies with operational nuclear plants are shutting them down earlier than lifecycle because it’s cheaper to generate electricity from natural gas.

            Easy-to-find-and-mine uranium is a depleting resource, which makes fast breeder reactors the better choice than light-water reactors. There are only two of those operating commercially and both are in Russia, so expect the howls of protest about that – “Russia?!?! That’s Chernobyl! And Putin!” This means there are even fewer companies with know-how and this increases your lead-up time. About 10 metric tonnes of natural uranium go into producing a metric tonne of low-enriched uranium (LEU), which can then be used to generate about 400 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, so present-day reactors require about 70,000 metric tonnes of natural uranium a year, most of which goes to the nuclear power industry with its 450 reactors. The US Nuclear Energy Agency identified uranium resources total 5.5 million metric tonnes, which is 550,000 metric tonnes of LEU, and an additional 10.5 million metric tons remain undiscovered. What happens when you go from 450 reactors to 4500+?

            An alternative to fast breeder reactors is extraction of uranium from seawater, which would make available 4.5 billion metric tonnes of uranium.

            Bill’s comment makes several good points about replacement and upgrades. As nuclear power slowly comes on stream these legacy facilities will still need to sustained. Gas-fueled generating plants may even need to be built for the foreseeable time.

            It’s going to have to be a bundle of technologies to include fossil and likely coal as well continued development of renewable that gets us through the next several decades if a let’s-go-nuclear plan were implemented.

            To sum up, there is no easy answer. There is no quick fix on the horizon. It’s going to take decades – many, many of them – and the prudent course of action is to maintain a bundle of energy options. Replace fossil fuel-fired plants at their lifecycle end with renewables including nuclear, preferably with fast breeder or other to-be-developed types to deal with the issues of uranium extraction. But if you’re not continuously researching nuclear technology and your construction industry is losing know-how, it’s a tough slog to catch up.

          • DrZ says

            Is nuclear hard in the current context of unrealistic fears, phobias and the current technology?
            There has been some press on modular nuclear plants which can be added incrementally to existing fossil fuel generation facilities. This has the added benefit of not having to install expensive new transmission lines.
            When we speak of the cost of nuclear do we factor in the relatively high environmental costs of plastering thousands of acres of solar panels and the millions of birds and bats killed each year by windmills? A nuclear facility’ footprint is tiny compared to windmills and solar panels and oh, did I forget to mention it runs 24/7?

        • Money should have been ploughed into getting Thorium reactors up and running. Nuclear can get the job done, Thorium can get it done safely with little waste.

          Of course, the disastrous choice to fund uranium instead of thorium (spurred by nuclear weapon development) and successful demonization of nuclear power by environmentalists means that most people don’t even realize this solution exists. A huge own goal on the environmental front, although I suspect a lot are far less concerned by apocalypse than they are about reducing living standards.

      • “disparaging the two most prominent green energy solutions?”

        Solar and wind are the most touted, but far from environmentally friendly. The amount of rare earth minerals alone means they are devastatingly brutal on entire ecosystems, not to mention are energy intensive mining operations.

        Geothermal is largely ignored, despite being an energy source that is nearly limitless and which has far lower upkeep costs than solar or wind. Tidal energy in various forms has drastic potential for low cost (after initial infrastructure development). But neither of these two possesses a long term high profitability margin. It would be cheap down the road, and people won’t pay more for what comes cheap. Solar and wind get heavily subsidized and can pad their profit margins to pay for all the high cost materials, repairs, and constant replacements.

        Nuclear has far greater potential (especially with the newest gen of reactor design), but does not get subsidized nearly to the extent solar, wind, and fossil fuels do (not to mention the insane licensing fees and other exorbitant regulatory costs associated). But I’d rather not get into that debate. It is complicated and lengthy, and I don’t feel like dealing with the “but the nukulars!” and “radiation everywhere” folks who know nothing of nuclear or radiation physics for the umpteenth time.

    • Casper says

      Yeah, this reeks of ‘i like my nice things too much to go with’ism lol

      • Stephanie says

        Casper, the fact we ALL like our nice things too much to go without (since we don’t) is extremely important, because it means someone will have to force us to give them up if we want the alarmist claims addressed.

        • And when that forcing comes it will be done with guns and bullets for all who resist.

    • Centrist Gal says

      The argument against Thunberg’s propaganda is that it is just that; propaganda! There is NO evidence for the claims that CO2 is dangerously warming the earth! NONE. Anybody who bothers to investigate the issue very quickly realizes this! It’s ALL conjecture, based on models, which so far have failed miserably! There is NO correlation between CO2 & global T for 99.99% of earth’s history. The one long period that shows a close correlation (400,000 years) is seen in the ice cores and these show that temperature LEADS CO2; as the oceans warm/cool, CO2 levels follow. Even in the modern period, the correlation falls down for almost half of the period under question! The globe has been cooling recently, but you wouldn’t know it from media reports! Arctic ice has ALSO been increasing for a number of years, reporting mass gains via snowfalls not recorded since 1972. Where is the media coverage?

      We have been told for thirty years that the science is settled. That is simply not true! If it’s ‘settled’ why are researchers STILL seeking funding for research for ‘detection’ and ‘attribution’ and still looking for the elusive proof that WE are responsible for temperature changes. Yet this is precisely what public money is being spent on, despite the repeated failure of predictions.

      The most recent IPCC report states there is NO evidence of more extreme weather; not droughts, not floods, not cyclones, not fires. Why doesn’t the public know this? It is an undisputed FACT. The average global sea level rise is only 1.7mm, unchanged from last century! Why does the public think the seas are rising dangerously?

      Anybody can check the data. If only they would bother to take off their blindfolds and look closely at what is being sold to them!

      • designer says

        This warrants the question why politics with the help of IPCC constructed the “causation” (not only correlation) of CO2 and heating. By scientific standards it is not an intelligent idea. So what is the political purpose? The elites prefer the children demonstrate against climate rather than poverty, exploitation, inequality or neoliberal tyranny?

    • Setting what’s true and what’s not aside….she is evidence that very young children are being used as canon fodder. We need to ask who is using them….and should they be.

    • Andy Drudy says

      The truth is that children should be taught to ignor Marxists who frame the world as the oppressor and the oppressed. Instead, tell the children to go home, turn off their electricity, turn off their gas. Park the car. So no heating, no television, no phone no light., no computer. Live that way for a week and she might learn something about the complexity of the issue. That is when you can come up with solutions – through understanding. Virtue signaling is not any kind of solution.

    • Jon Burack says

      I somewhat agree. In this sense. The obligations of adults ought to be to demand that children who lecture the world about its failings demonstrate some solid knowledge of the issues they raise. This girl appears to accept the most dire climate predictions floating around the media and emanating from the climate alarmist groups. Does she understand ANY of the science that goes into these claims? I see no sign she does. Is she aware of the many scientists who take issue with her extremist conclusions? Does she understand the statistical and chemical and physical and biological principles and bodies of knowledge that must be understood to know what is and is not certain in this area? In other words, does she really “know” what she believes she knows? Or, as it seems to me, does she simply not know what she does not know? She’s a kid, after all. Since when did the world make progress as a result of ANY children’s crusade? I know of no such case.

    • Sten says

      Here here. This feels like an aimless attack on a kid making a difference. Things are dire, and I want EVERYONE making noise about it.

      • gda says

        Things are not dire, no matter how much noise you may wish to make beating your empty drum.

        “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H. L. Mencken

    • Andy C says

      No counter argument is required as there is no point in arguing about nonsense. The article should really be about the adults who are behind her setting all this up.

    • John Sisson says

      There is at least one cogent counter argument to Thunberg’s position in the text. That is the point made by Bjorn Lomborg about the impossibility of achieving her goal without destroying the societies that allow us to prate on the internet from the comfort of our civilised homes. That and the fact that millions of citizens of developed countries are changing their life patterns in response to their reading of the same facts as Thunberg.

    • Jon Salmi says

      Let us be clear this nonsense is all about pushing a socialist agenda. The manmade global warming meme is not a science, if it were it would have a falsifiable hypothesis. As to this Socialism, people are pushing for, what they are actually wanting are social welfare programs. The only way a country can provide its people with social welfare programs, (free medical care, free higher education, etc.) is through taxing the profits of capitalism the best wealth-generating economic system there is.

    • Nicolas says

      Relentless E. Olson. When will you start your climate change think tank?

      • Ray Andrews says


        He is picking an choosing (caribou numbers are in steep decline), but nevertheless what he says above is true. True facts are true facts irrespective of what we suspect the motives might be of the person bringing them forward. If facts can be ignored because of suspect motives, then we are left with no facts, only our various ideological tribes, and thus it will become impossible to talk to each other. Note, we may scream at each other, but a rational discussion must involve facts which stand as independent realities.

        • Craig Willms says

          Motives, you talk about motives!!! What are E.Olsons nefarious motives?

          What are the motives behind the radical Dark Green Environmentalists? No you won’t go there… They literally want people dead, billions of them. Those are the motives you should be worried about, not a tenacious critic of leftism in a comment section of an obscure web magazine.

          There are promising technologies on the horizon that will help take care of these perceived doomsday scenario’s, but it will take vibrant market capitalism to bring them to reality. There’s no telling what super conductors, graphene and even nuclear fusion will mean to the future,.Each has massive potential to reduce the need for ‘fossil fuels’ at the levels in use today.

          Instead of teaching these kids to fear the future we should inspire them to create it to benefit humanity, not kill it off.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Craig Willms

            “Motives, you talk about motives!!! What are E.Olsons nefarious motives?”

            I didn’t say they were nefarious, I said that facts are facts irrespective of motives and I’d rather not waste time speculating on motives.

            “They literally want people dead, billions of them”

            This sort of hysteria is the mirror image of the sort of hysteria that the envirotarians throw at you. We should try to be reasonable.

            “Each has massive potential to reduce the need for ‘fossil fuels’ at the levels in use today.”

            I agree. Meanwhile I note that Deniers sometimes use this sort of logic:

            -There is no warming.
            -But man isn’t responsible for it anyway.

            which reminds me of:

            -There are no rats in this house.
            -But they mostly keep to the cellar.


            -There is no need to reduce CO2 emissions.
            -But future technology will permit us to reduce them anyway.

            which is a bit like:

            -The kool-aid is perfectly safe to drink.
            -But we’ll have an antidote ready in a little while.

          • Craig Willms says

            OK, Ray,

            ever so reasonable… The Dark Greenies can put an adorable child’s face on their movement all day long it doesn’t change the fact that they desire the culling of billions of human beings. Why is sounding that alarm different than them saying we have 12 years to live if we don’t destroy our way of life right now- which will kill billions. That’s not me saying it it is Patrick Moore co-founder of Greenpeace saying it.

            The average person seeing this cute kid will not know the true motives of those in her corner. If it was just ‘saving the planet’ who could be suspicious? But it is an anti-capitalist and anti-human campaign at it’s core. Someone has to say it. Sometimes a slap in the face is more effective than a gentle nudge to wake people up.

            That’s all.

          • S Snell says

            @ Craig Williams

            I would quibble with you a little here. I don’t think Big Green WANTS billions of humans dead, per se, but if that is what it takes to Save the Planet, then it’s a fair trade.

            Do not underestimate the hostility of hard-core greens to humanity. They make the Khmer Rouge look like pillars of tolerance.

        • Although, I would point out in Alaska and Northwest Canada the main driver of decreasing Caribou numbers appears to be because of increased wolf and to a lesser degree, barren ground grizzly populations.

    • Everywhere polar bears come into contact with humans, bear numbers are higher than ever! Really? Are there more polar bears or have they been driven to search for food near settlements, because they can’t get to the pack ice? More bears at the dump does NOT mean more bears. It means fewer bears.

      • S. Cheung says

        Jack – ikr. I was expecting her to say that since polar bear numbers at her local zoo/aquarium have remained stable, everything is good.

    • jimhaz says

      E. Olson is becoming the bane of Quillette. The guy is a twisted idiot.

    • S. Cheung says

      E. Olson – you have a certain bent, but you usually make at least a reasonable attempt at a point, from what I’ve seen. But that link was pretty weak stuff.
      “Polar bear numbers could easily exceed 40,000”
      – “could easily”? Are you serious man? That “could easily” be good news, as you say; but it “could easily” be 2 con lawyers running a site designed to blow climate-warmed air up the backsides of those who are inclined to bend over for them.

      • E. Olson says

        S. Cheung – so you just can’t stand good news? You do understand that it is virtually impossible to actually count how many polar bears exist in the wild, and that any estimate is always going to inexact? And where to you get the idea that lawyers were involved in the study, the linked post is about a book written by a wild-life expert who is getting savaged by climate activists that don’t want to lose their polar bear extinction gravy-train.

        • S. Cheung says

          E. Olson – i don’t expect anyone to produce a polar bear head count with a precision of +/- 1. But it is laughable that this so-called “wild-life expert” did little more than extract a number out of her backside. And it’s further troubling that you would simply accept such “good news” when it fits your narrative, especially when it is peddled on by “2 con lawyers running a site”….you’ll further notice that nowhere did I suggest those 2 con legal beagles to have been involved in the study.
          You’re fairly quick to point out the bias in others. Me’thinks you would benefit from the services of a mirror, cuz you’ve got a blind spot that “could easily” be ginormous.

    • ga gamba says

      That’s good news about the polar bears.

      Are polar bears as delicious as pandas?

    • Boris says

      It’s posts like this that convince me that she is right. The evidence for human caused global warming is overwhelming and the ignorant are spamming some random blogger’s take on polar bears? How embarrassing.

    • dirk says

      Small wonder, E.O., those polar bears now live mainly from the garbage, dust bins and remains from all those boreal biologists, climatologists, and some oil workers. Same happens with the wolves in Italy and the brown bears in Romania (any Q.commenter from Brasov to come with details ?). Here around, guls do especially well on that garbage, and terns, the specialists in feeding, needing healthy balance and diversity, do less well. We’ll end up in one great global garbage belt, plus the animals and birds specialising on it.

    • Ghatanathoah says

      I’m genuinely confused by activists like this who treat climate change as a huge existential threat that is going to ruin everything for everyone.

      I’ve looked at the projections, and it looks like climate change is just going to make a bunch of existing problems worse. Food might be a little harder to grow, and therefore more expensive. There might be some more big hurricanes. Some coastal area will have to build dikes. These sound like bad problems, but not existential threats.

      I don’t see how any of these problems justify the massive decrease in our standard of living that activists are demanding. It isn’t at all clear to me that it would be worth it. These problems would clearly suck, but so would massively deindustrializing. I don’t understand how people can be so certain that the harms of climate change outweigh the harms from deindustrialization. Maybe just putting up with climate change would be the best option?

      Of course, if geoengineering pans out we might be able to have our cake and eat it too. But even if it doesn’t, I don’t see that it is obvious whether having or eating the cake is better.

      • Sean Michael Bearly says

        It appears that some people need climate change to be a cataclysmic event rather than something that might be happening in very incremental ways. Where does this need come from? Are our lives so void of real issues that we need to exaggerate new ones to get excited about? If the seas rise it will be very slowly and we will adjust. But we see pictures that show some immediate catastrophic flooding of New York City killing millions of people. Apparently this will be in 12 years on a day when mother nature finally loses her cool and lets lose her anger on humans by sending multiple tsunamis into the coasts to teach us all a lesson.

  2. the gardner says

    What we have hear is a robot with a parasitized brain, spewing Chicken Little talking points. She is like the mad evangelical, preaching the end of times on street corners. She is being used, just as the kids who invaded Diane Feinstein’s office were shameless pawns.
    It would be nice to think that facts could affect her, but not a chance. Cognitive dissonance, bolstered by the celebrity, the Joan of Arc persona she has been given, make her mind impenetrable. What to do? Like AOC, people will listen for a while, then realize her extreme, crazy views, and stop listening. It would be useless to try to counter her, right now she claims the top of the credibility hierarchy. Maybe a poor Indian girl could speak out and claim her recommendations would further impoverish her country, and she is evil and heartless. Alternatively one could suggest that her view that there are too many people on the earth is true, and she should lead the way in ameliorating that problem. (sarc).

    • Nicolas says

      You realize Chicken Little was actually right?

      • John Burrett says

        Wow. You managed to miss the point of “Chicken Little”.

      • the gardner says

        I think Chicken Little is known as the character screaming doom, just as is the mad evangelical I mentioned. Sorry for any confusion.

      • X. Citoyen says

        Chicken Little was right? Sounds like Foxy Loxy’s next mark is Feckless Nicholas.

        • Nicolas says

          Chicken Little was right and Claire Lehman, ga gamba, E. Olson and Alex Jones are the Chicken Littles of our time.

    • Lightning Rose says

      The media’s already moved on from last week’s shiny radical object, almost entirely eclipsed by the far more newsworthy events in Christchurch, NZ anyway. All that has to be said by the adults in the room is, “OK, kiddies. Turn off the heat, the lights, your phone, your TV and laptop, stop eating and stop breathing. THAT’S what’ll “stop our CO2 emissions.” They’ll get tired of freezing, bored in the dark pretty quickly. BTW, you might also mention that AGW is a long way from proven, that the so-called “problem” seems to be a mere 1.5 degrees C. of demonstrably beneficial warming since 1850, and if you think for one minute your personal actions are going to change the WEATHER, this proves you are in the grip of a social contagion/moral panic.

      The politicians and Davos-types are complicit in this, exploiting the innocence of children to push the unadulterated bullshit that we can “stop” hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, etc. by eschewing modern energy production. Someone needs to put a stop to this delusional nonsense about wind/solar. If anyone really thought AGW was a problem, we’d be building nuclear plants all over the face of the earth. And could have been for the last 30 years of this tedious hysteria.

      While you’re at it, grownups, stop pitching doomsday films and “dystopian” literature at impressionable young people, who lack the life experience and frame of reference to have any kind of perspective. Stop telling them they’re fragile and vulnerable and medicalizing their emotions. There’s a REASON there’s so much depression and anxiety among the young–it’s coming from adults.

      • David of Kirkland says

        Indeed, fear and loathing our own culture is the current indoctrination.
        Anybody from 200 years ago would marvel about how great the world is, and any “environmental problems” would seem trivial to dealing with nature before.

      • S Snell says

        @Lightning Rose
        IMO, AGW is slightly true, in that CO2 IS a GHG, although a minor one, and we ARE adding a significant quantity of it to the atmosphere. But the idea that it is an existential threat is a pretty tough sell. Nine previous warm spells of greater magnitude and duration in this interglacial period alone, and the planet survived just fine. The Earth has been around a long time and is pretty resilient.

        Generally speaking, warmth is good. Warmth is life. It’s the cold that gets you. And it will, sooner or later, when the current interglacial winds down in the next few centuries and the ice returns, as it has roughly 40 times since Pleistocene glaciation (AKA the Ice Age) began about 2.5 million years ago.

    • Tom Clark says

      People like this naive and gullible child are known as useful idiots by the “green energy”industry

      • dirk says

        Ad 1, Greta: the similarity of Greta with Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Langstromb (physically and mentally) is striking, of course. Both long braids, though Pippi is a pre-teen, living in a crumbled villa, without parents, but with a horse and a monkey, to the great chagrin of the whole grown up village, but not at all of their children. She has always a lot of stories to tell and adventures to initiate, by which making a mockery of the established and moral adulthood. TV adaptations of the book were years and years on TV in all European nations, and have had a lasting influence on the lifestyle of pre-teens. Greta is a late sprout of this Swedish girl.

  3. dirk says

    Why criticise the lovely teen Greta?
    But what we should not forget:
    – she is from Sweden, where a kid is not an early stage of humans, but fullgrown, positive naivete
    – her mother is an opera performer
    – climate change politics is not something that can even possibly be tackled by a world of different nations all eager to grow economically, so, a child (not yet belonging to that global mankind) is the perfect outsider with a voice perfectly suited to speak about the issue and to be listened to.

    The danger exists, however, that she is just used by those evil adults as a chess piece to cover their own hypocrisy.

    • Tom Clark says

      Known as a useful idiot by the green energy industry.

  4. Skillsets says

    There’s nothing more irritating than someone who enters the political arena, and then feels that they are above criticism because ‘they’re just a child’. If that’s the case, they shouldn’t be anywhere near a political soapbox. Its David Hogg all over again. How creepy, weird and manipulative these communist leftie types are in weaponising children to voice their message, with the device that the child is beyond criticism because ‘they’re just a child’ Its sick.

    • Anonymous says

      Well at least it would still be possible to attack her for “white privilege”, right ? (:-)

    • dirk says

      -He ‘s just a child- can be said of a toddler stealing some sweets or a banana, but not of a kid, given a floor and stage in an international conference. We have a very popular TV program, the Voice Kids (so, not what you would expect, Kids Voice, because it is a talent competition), where they asked a kid (7 yrs) after performance, what ‘s important for you.
      – Just follow your heart, Always be yourself-
      I was laughing heartily, hearing this. How did she arrive at such a thing? No kid in my youth would ever say this, we would say things like
      -be obedient, learn your lessons, help your grandmother cross the street- or similar things. No longer, that’s history.

  5. northernobserver says

    It’s funny. The Soviets and The Nazis were big on children as ideological props too.
    The obliviousness of the moment does nothing to diminish its moral repulsiveness.

    • northernobserver says

      The Children’s Crusade for Climate Change.
      Where is the new Monty Python to mock this rubbish.

  6. GregS says

    Take a penny and lay it flat on a table top. Take another penny and stack it flat on the first. That height represents the average annual sea level rise, about 3mm. Now take a penny away because the seas have been rising 1.5 mm per year for several centuries.

    So one could suggest that perhaps because of mankind, the seas are rising the thickness of a penny per year – but let’s not confuse other factors with global warming. Some of this rise is due to aquifer depletion, a factor that will not continue for the long run.

    Now square the above with everything you have read in the press about sea level rise, hurricanes and flooding in the streets of Miami.

    And one more thing…when the press whips you into a moral panic about sea level rise due to climate change in places like Chesapeake Bay and Houston, read the article carefully and in and among the Clintonesque parsing of words, realize that the journalist is deliberately or not, confusing sinking land with rising seas.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Greenhouse gasses are increasing in concentration and that does increase temperatures for us. Denial is lame; the proposed solutions and of course predictions about the future are worthy of debate.

      • the gardner says

        OK, let’s debate the solutions. First, Gen 4 nuclear. Safe, efficent, even the nuclear waste is reusable. Why is this nowhere on the list of solutions vs wind and solar with all their shortcomings? Also, CO2 scrubbing from the atmosphere. Feasible. Again, never mentioned. Strategies that involve deprivation and destruction of the economy are preferred. The original sin theme rings here— we are sinners to be banished from the garden, irredeemable. Very puritanical.

        • Jackson Howard says

          Gen4 is a the demonstrator level. As far as I can tell, only the french did build a high power Gen4 reactor and it was shutdown as a way get the greens in a political alliance. Issues are plutonium production in large amount and liquid sodium (nasty stuff).

          The reality about Gen4 is that it’s not in a state conductive to a heavy buildup. Molten salt sure does look compelling though. Let’s keep in mind that nuclear is political kryptonite in quite a few countries and that makes a buildup unlikely. (maybe China/India).

          C02 scrubbing : doable, proven at small scale but expensive. It could be profitable if CO2 is priced high enough. But C02 pricing is pretty much heretical in quillette comment section, though it would allow markets to deal with the problem. Let’s not do that and wait for disaster and big government instead.

          Solar is pretty good IMO. The ERoEI is quite okay and on par or better with high-tech oil like shales (that are a temporary relief at best). Coupled with pumped hydro, it makes for a potent mix. Wind is a bit more problematic as it’s a bit like hydro : there is a limited number of “good” spots and it has quite an impact on land use.

          As per the OP…

          It’s pretty much a hatchet job.

          It can be summed up as : she’s young so she does not understand and she’s manipulated, the science is wrong anyway, she’s crazy so don’t listen to her (hint : aspergers are often really good at science) and even if there is a problem it’s small and we should take a “carefully balanced” approach (aka : do nothing, like 30 last years, which is precisely what she is attacking).

        • Barney Doran says

          The ONLY solution these people seek is the abandonment of capitalism.

      • GregS says

        Greenhouse gasses are increasing in concentration and that does increase temperatures for us

        What is your point? No one is arguing against the existence of greenhouse gases or that they are increasing. What is being argued is whether climate science has turned into an irrational moral panic driven the by greed of multi-trillion dollar renewable energy industry, who hire little girls to shill their schemes.

        If you want to say something informative, give us a precise value for climate sensitivity (temperature change in response to changes of the radiative forcing) and tell us how you came to that number. If you can come up with that number, you will be the first and in line for a Nobel Prize.

        From what I have seen from actually reading the entire IPCC report (AR4) was that most numbers for climate sensitivity come from an ensemble of climate models where the majority have been falsified and most of the rest are not built for general predictive purpose.

        Oh, let’s try something easier. What is your number for aerosols?

        What is it for water-vapor feedbacks?

        Is the hotspot really hot and does anyone know whether it truly exists?

        So how does IPCC come up with their projections?

        Feelings, their projections are based on feelings.

  7. MGM says

    To point at “young protagonists” and claim: “they have no illusions about the system, but plenty of illusions about the way to change our world” is rather hypocritical.

  8. What Did You Expect? says

    In an age when hundreds of millions of “adults” across the “educated west” exhibit an almost daily willingness to abandon logic and reason on social media, as they perform their duty of likes and retweets (see also: being yes-men and yes-women for the flavor of the month “social celebrity”), and parrot soundbites for the latest crusade….. when basically all substance and informed debate has been replaced by hand-wringing, finger-pointing, and acts of “look at me say ___ on social media so you can see how righteous I am, as I simultaneously do nothing in the real (meat space) world to enact positive change”…. anyone really surprised that a largely uninformed 16 year old with suspect mental health has become and unquestioned icon to those who “lead us”?

    Look at the Stoneman Douglas kids and how the media absolutely refused to engage them in a reasoned discussion about what the problems are, what solutions are possible and not possible, what the proper balanced approach is to the problem…. does anyone really think those kids were made heroes because of the solidity of their ideas and actions? No, they were celebrities because they were a) kids, and b) cried and got emotional in front of cameras and on media… and the media ate it up and spewed it out why, because they’re altruistic and problem solvers? No, because it MAKES THEM MONEY.

    It used to be “if it bleeds, it leads,” now you can add, “if it’s a young person and it gets emotional and speaks out on push-button issues, it leads.”

    I am all for improved energy systems that reduce CO2, all for people stopping their wasteful eating habits, all the stuff. But the way the younger generations go about this is completely hollow. Completely. And worse the parents and so-called “leaders” supposedly looking out for these kids, ENABLE their worst tendencies instead of helping them to grow up and do their protesting and the like in a constructive and level-headed way.

  9. AnotherAnonType says

    Is anyone really surprised (at this point) by the phenomenon the author describes?

    Is anyone surprised this is where we find ourselves, in a time when hundreds of millions of supposed “educated western adults,” take to social media on an almost daily basis, to blindly parrot and champion the “hero” of the day in an effort to make themselves appear righteous and “on the right side of history” (as they do literally nothing constructive from day to day in the real, meat-space world to affect change)? As they constantly champion people with seemingly good motives, without questioning anything they say or do?

    As long as this girl gets the blind adoration of the social media masses, she will not be questioned by those around her. But don’t worry, she’ll fizzle out and lose everyone’s attention within six months because society has the attention span of a reesus monkey on diet of snickers bars and mountain dew. She’ll be replaced by the next teenage “hero,” showing all us adults the real truth without actually talking about anything in a substantive way or actually teaching us something we don’t know. This girl is far less Malala than Madonna (that is to say, has about as much actual substance behind her “work” and “message” as Madonna had – no disrespect to her commercial success.

    The worst part of all this is the supposed “adults in the room” enable this girl instead of helping her to grow up and do what she’s doing in a constructive way.

    • John Burrett says

      “society has the attention span of a reesus monkey on diet of snickers bars and mountain dew” – love that, well said!

    • John Burrett says

      society has the attention span of a reesus monkey on diet of snickers bars and mountain dew – great stuff!

  10. Cassandra C says

    Scrutinize her messages, as we should. But it is exactly because she’s a teen with strident accusations that it is getting any attention at all. That’s the point. As the saying goes, attention–good or bad on climate change–is better than no attention at all.

    The goal is to elevate the debate. Let the discussions and arguments begin in more fervor. Whether it goes far in that regard, time will tell. But as most adults see this–no harm done in shining a spotlight.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Sadly, if your argument is all histrionics, no real discussion takes place, and far too many still pretend that there’s no greenhouse effect at all.
      Global attention is needed, which is precisely what the Paris Accord was all about. Yet one nation decided being part of the solution was a bad idea.

      • TarsTarkas says

        You need to read the Paris accords. All standards to be achieved were entirely voluntary, there were no penalties for missing goals, and the EU and most especially the USA were supposed to send oodles of money to Third World countries (i.e. their dictatorial rulers) for them to spend as they wish. What could possibly go wrong? Sorry, I’m not interested in subsidizing the lifestyle of the rich, corrupt, and tyrannical and their enablers. Until we get a energy consumption game changer like cheap fusion power or a breakthrough in battery storage technology, energy conservation (like continually requiring devices to use as little energy as possible) is all we have to slow the growth of energy consumption.

        BTW, no one ever seems to talk about what happens to the world and its population if global warming is truly stopped or reversed. People need to read accounts of the fun weather events that occurred during the Little Ice Age. Long mid-summer cold snaps, months of continual rain, monster storms that carved shire-sized chunks out of the shoreline (that’s how the Zuider Zee came to be), and much more. A lot people and their chattel died. No thank you.

  11. George G says

    If President Obama can get a Nobel peace prize whilst increasing drone strikes, I don’t see why this girl can’t get one for bunking off school

    • David of Kirkland says

      Her radical solutions if actually imposed on society would create more war than we’d know what to do with. Then again, pretending climate change is not happening will get us there, too, barring awesome solutions created by smart minds that care not about the politicization of science.

      • Ned Flanders says

        How do you know climate change will get us there? Life expectancy and population levels rise unabated in the hottest places on earth. Climate change continues to be a problem for which the consequences are projected a decade into the future. This itself might not undermine the crisis theory so much were it not for the fact that this has been the case for 30 years.

  12. Joshua Schwartz says

    This article critiques a 16 year-old’s enthusiastic-but-uninformed activism. Here is a question I genuinely struggle with: since I don’t even consider most adults to be ‘informed’ on serious subjects, what is the role (if any) for energetic activism in the service of some cause? And what is the role of ‘experts’ who have deep knowledge of the problems?

    I feel like the way it should work is this: 1) experts identify and study the problem and best solutions, 2) communicate the basics in simpler terms to the broader public, 3) the public puts pressure on representatives and leadership. This does not require the public (be they adults or kids) to actually hold much knowledge, but rather, that they believe in some authority (scientists, god, motivational speaker, etc.) enough to fulfill their role.

    It sounds like the author of this piece laments the uninformed enthusiasm of step 3 and wishes the activists were more knowledgeable. I can agree that it would be nice – but we’re talking about the last step in a chain of events designed for a world in which, unfortunately, most people cannot grasp fine details and yet it is necessary that their energy be harnessed for change to take place. I see this as making the best of a bad situation.

    I would encourage this kid to continue learning and sharpening her understanding, but no, I do not scold her for being enthusiastic. We should be lucky to have such enthusiasm in the service of an issue that is a slow, chronic and often invisible problem as far as a person’s day-to-day is concerned. Climate is just such a problem.

    • Pirkka Jokela says

      I agree that it is not a reasonable goal to expect everyone to become knowledgeable. But energetic activism can be dangerous:

      After Fukushima, energetic activism (by adults) in Germany made them start closing down nuclear power. I guess the idea was to replace it with something warm and cuddly, but in reality they are burning more fossil fuels.

      On the other hand, we need the energy for speed, but on the other hand, we really need to be moving in the right direction.

  13. Anon says

    I sense blatant hypocrisy and words backed by absolutely nothing. Greta’s cult-like teen followership has done nothing but to shift blame to politicians. It is to a large degree emblematic of recent political youth culture using children as political figureheads to deflect criticism – a closer look behind the scenes reveals the void this movement consists of. I have failed to make out an actual message conveyed – the message is the act of sending a message. It serves the assertion of one’s moral high ground while hiding behind a seemingly undisputable truth of climate change. The youth does not care about our climate as much as they pretend to do. Most recent studies (conducted in Switzerland) have shown that younger generations have the worst ecological footprints, which is not surprising considering they are the age group to fly the most miles by plane. It is easy to hide behind the moral authority and shifting blame instead of pursuing an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
    The movement operates on the basis of a nihilistic and blame-shifting undertone, but does not provide adequate solutions to complex problems. Not like I was surprised – this exact theoretical doctrine of moral authoritarianism, devoid of hand-on application possibilities is what is nowadays taught in school. But they don’t teach that actions weigh more than mere words. You can’t criticise a system that you happily participate in and actively promote.

    • Jernado says

      “-Kids useful idiots-, cc, do you have children yourself? I doubt so, otherwise, why such severe condemnation?”

      I’m a public school teacher so I have handled my fair share of children. I’m not so sure if you can trust them to make sound judgements for themselves let alone society. Based what I have seen if children are left to run society we are most likely end up with something similar to Lord of the Flies.

      • lars-eric olander says

        I am not surprised this is happening in Sweden.. Infantilized population beyond belief. Leftist spreading propaganda. This is child abuse from parents and PR-manager building Up influencers in digital platforms.You are screwed

      • dirk says

        There you are so right, jernado, indeed, as an all over this comment section common idea I sense, sound judgment and ability to run society is not what one may expect from children. But sorrow? fear for the future? emotional conscience? You are teacher, so must know! In my own life, much of what kept me busy, interested and worrying as a kid, still keeps me awake (am I an exception in this?). Though, maybe, now in a more quantitative and reasoned way. Not that different, I would think.

  14. ccscientist says

    Children, even teens, think they can all grow up to be rock stars and pro athletes. They have no idea of hardship or tradeoffs, have never paid taxes, and have never witnessed the adverse effects of gov policies. They believe platitudes. They are simply useful idiots. The idea that purity of the person (due to youth) makes sound policy is simply duplicitous.

    • dirk says

      -Kids useful idiots-, cc, do you have children yourself? I doubt so, otherwise, why such severe condemnation?

  15. Sean Leith says

    People are talking about it is because it is an existential threat or any threat at all.

  16. I love children so much that I made three of them. However I don’t trust children to tell me how a society should be run. We have seen this before and some of us have been young, when you are young you aren’t burdened by experience, so you have the tendency to live in a black and white world. Oh it’s easy! We all go vegan! And stop air travel, and do away with comerce, and send the rest of the world into the deepest recession ever l

  17. David of Kirkland says

    Faith in predictions about the future are commonplace. Most such predictions fail because they cannot take into account any changes that the future will present. We didn’t kill off all horses to get rid of poop in the streets, but the automobile was invented without a focus on getting rid of horse poop. As we learn more, I suspect smart people will continue to create better energy solutions, better conservation strategies, better ways to clean the air and water, and perhaps we’ll even suffer a huge catastrophe (meteor, volcano, earthquake, war, disease, drought/famine…). Discounting innovation/invention and future catastrophes clearly means predictions are invalid.
    It is funny how easily the human mind accepts what they have as if it’s always been this way. We can fly in a tube 5 miles up going 500 MPH and just grumble about tight seats or bad food or a crying baby. We have power for everything, yet nobody is combing the grounds for wood to burn. We turn on a tap and care not about walking miles to collect dirty water. Sick? We go to a doctor and get solutions rather than just dealing with prayers.
    The human mind simply cannot deal with reality very well, not understanding the reality of most human life today and in the past…The future is only bleak if we allow tyranny instead of liberty.

    • Lightning Rose says

      Great post, DK. The irony of a spoiled brat representing a world now full of entitled spoiled brats should be lost on no one.

      BTW, the only people who pay attention to this kind of stuff are the NPR-tote-bag-crowd who show up once a year on Earth Day with their trowels and spades and floppy hats. Sometimes I wonder if we should even give lingering daylight to flash-in-the-pan Web phenomena that would otherwise enjoy a 15-minute shelf life.

      • Tom Udo says

        “The NPR-tote-bag-crowd”

        I’m old enough to remember when such fools were laughed at. Now their quasi-religious pseudoscientific hysteria has become a threat to civilization. They’re not funny anymore.

    • Jay Salhi says

      @David of Kirkland

      Great post except the part about nobody combing grounds for wood to burn. By the magic of green math, burning wood is considered carbon neutral and by 2020 biomass is projected to make up more than half of the EU’s “green” energy. Two-thirds of the wood comes from North America, harvested with fossil fuel technology, transported to ports by diesel powered trucks, then shipped on diesel powered ships across the ocean.

      But it is all green because the greenies say so and it helps EU politicians make it appear as if their progress towards meeting their unattainable green energy mandates is less dismal than it is in actual reality.

      Those of us old enough to remember the late 80s when saving the rain forrest was the cause du jour and loggers were held in lower esteem than war criminals, scratch our heads and ask “isn’t cutting down trees and burning them supposed to be bad?”.

  18. stevengregg says

    Anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is nonsense. Humans are not driving the world’s climate, which is the effect of colossal celestial forces far beyond humans’ ability to add or detract. AGW is a popular delusion which educated people should reject.

    The second issue is the liberal tactic of voicing their policies via persons who can not readily be rebutted due to their youth or status as a victim. This is a dishonest tactic.

    • “…the liberal tactic of voicing their policies via persons who can not readily be rebutted due to their youth or status as a victim. This is a dishonest tactic.” Acceptable larceny for saving the world. Utopia, what price?

  19. Kevin Herman says

    “Thunberg says she has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an obsessive compulsive disorder, and selective mutism, and that she has suffered from depression and eating disorders that have stunted her growth.”

    I would argue her psychological problems are the main driver of the climate mania she is suffering from. I will say this as bad as the United States has become it would be impossible for an American Thunberg to get this kind of famous. Most of us still realise in the US that children are not wiser then adults and because they are children what they say has to be scrutinized and critiqued even more then what an adult says.

  20. derek says

    Since any solution to global warming will be technical, ie. a replacement for fossil fuels found and widely implemented, these kids should go to school to learn the basic science that is required to find a technical solution.

    Wishing away fossil fuels won’t get rid of them. I posit that if usage of fossil fuels was stopped today about 2 billion people would die of starvation. Any ‘solution’ has the potential of causing serious harm, being counterproductive or even using more fossil fuels than before.

    Having a bunch of kids wishing and protesting won’t fix the problem.

    • E. Olson says

      derek – you hit the nail on the head. How did little Grete get all excited about climate change? Perhaps she been indoctrinated at school since kindergarten about how man is destroying the planet by burning oil, and gas, and coal? Was she told that giant windmills and solar panels could replace all those smoke stacks, but dirty oil companies were stopping this solution because they were greedy? Was she told there are way too many people, cows, pigs, and chickens on the planet and we need to stop eating meat and stop having children? I would bet serious money she has heard all this at school, but no actual science, and her opera singing parent is probably also immersed in this climate hype as well, and has encouraged little Grete to speak out. I wonder if either has thought about how much need there will be for opera singers in a world that runs on Roman Empire power sources? I wonder if Grete has ever wondered how she might get along without her smart phone and social media when she is out collecting wood to keep warm and the electricity is on only a few hours per day.

  21. John says

    I wonder if Greta could repair a puncture in her bicycle tyre?

  22. Closed Range says

    So far, so-called “green policies” have been pathetically bad at achieving even their own stated goals. Just one example – after Fukushima, Germany decided to shut down its last nuclear reactors, largely under pressure of the green party and the oil and gas industry – strange bedfellows, right? Net result: they went back to making electricity by burning coal and gas. And yet I know many German friends who act as though they have the greenest country in the world. If that’s not a slow clap situation, I don’t know what is. Sanctimonious grand standing and sensible decision making rarely run on the same tracks.

  23. dirk says

    Greta had a predecessor, in the Middle Ages, and on a massive scale, the Children’s Crusade in the Middle East. Of course, it ended in disaster, but a great impression it made, for centuries, on children and adults alike. At least, I still remember how it fascinated me when I heard about it in elementary history classes.

  24. Etiamsi omnes says

    “Let the little children come to me.” The Hitler jugend, the Soviet Pioneers, the Chinese Red Guards, Big Brother” Junior Antisex League…

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      This wouldn’t be Quillette without some dumbass bringing up Hitler and Stalin.

      And recruiting children is a part of every single ideology that has ever existed. Capitalism is especially expert at this tactic.

      • ga gamba says

        Is true. Just this very day I witnessed the Future Entrepreneurs of the Philippines Club goose stepping in Makati Ayala Triangle whilst handing out charge card applications.

        What next?!?! Shopping???

  25. Greta is a 16 year old with Asperger’s – she has no understanding of the science underlying climate change. In no the area (medicine, technology, business, etc.) would anyone listen to the opinions of a sixteen year-old – why should we listen to her when she talks about such a complicated topic as climate change? To quote Eric Weinstein: “Your feelings must be taught to care about facts”!

    • Casper says

      Which facts are you concerned she isn’t considering? I don’t see either Eric or Bret massively disagreeing with her call for action.

      • For instance the fact that the climate has always changed and will always change, independent of man-made CO2. During the time of the Roman Empire, the Alps were free of snow and glaciers, due to natural fluctuations. Why can natural fluctuations not account for changes we see today?

        My quote from Eric Weinstein does not refer to his view on climate change, which I do not know, but rather on his point that feelings should not trump facts.

  26. GrumpyBear says

    she may be only 16, and not know what she’s talking about, and have some mental condition, yet she sounds very much like some members of the US Congress

  27. Ned Flanders says

    Your criticism focuses exclusively on the potential disparity between what activists say others should be doing and what they actually do themselves, while not scrutinizing whether or not their claims actually have any legitimacy. The problem with Thunberg being given a platform and being treated as an authority is that she clearly has no idea what she’s talking about. She’s repeating the platitudes that dominate the climate change discussion while showing no awareness that arguments exist on the other side. This shouldn’t be surprising, seeing how she’s a teenager and has been brainwashed by the media and education system to embrace these ideas, and hasn’t yet been exposed to contradictory points of view. She’s a propagandist without knowing it, and she’s being used to push misinformation.

  28. X. Citoyen says

    Back in the nineteenth century, unscrupulous parents put their prodigies and freaks on display to profit from the rabble—some still do today. Being poor, they at least had an excuse.

    Nowadays the upper reaches of supposedly polite society promote the efforts of unscrupulous parents who turn their mentally disabled children into sock-puppets for their own childish feelings. It’s disgraceful.

  29. Casper says

    “Today, Thunberg is a vegan and has renounced air travel. ”

    We can all minimise energy costings. If you can’t imagine being willing to never fly again for the sake of being able to enjoy more time outside (due to the rising heat and extreme weather) then perhaps consider how open you really are to possibilities that are worth considering and planning for.

    Conscious apes can only go so far if they’re lazy

  30. “When Children Protest, Adults Should Tell them the Truth”

    The truth being that no one is going to take children seriously about anything having to do with public policy until they are in their mid-20s, and they should shut up and stop wasting everyone’s time.

  31. Aerth says

    In Poland we have a saying: “Hell is paved with good intentions”. Whenever I see all those whatever-justice movements, I can’t stop thinking how true this saying is.

  32. George says

    This looks a lot like a young girls depression talking. She needs a course of CBT in which she it taught to reality test her underlying assumptions. I imagine Climate Change dogma has become a core belief instilled by the education system and activist parents – something that, IMHO, constitutes child abuse and should be broadly condemned.

    • jimhaz says

      Ok, so now Quillette has morphed from an open reasoning site, to a typical full of shit ultra-conservative silo. A congo line of suckholes.

      Who would have guessed.

      The question is how gung-ho Lehmann will handle the stresses.

      • Nakatomi Plaza says

        Damn straight, Jim. Some of the people here are really disturbed and some of the biggest pussies I can possibly imagine. They’re scared of children. They’re scared of mentally disabled children.

        When you’re reduced to attacking a mentally challenged child you’ve already lost.

  33. Nakatomi Plaza says

    Why is Qulliette so consistently opposed to acknowledging global warming? It’s really weird, and not matter how clever you try and sound, you’re still just denialists who, either accidentally or not, are servants of big oil and the fossil fuels industry. For all the bluster and pseudo-intellectual bullshit on the shit you’re still just useful idiots to big oil. I really don’t understand it. You’re just that irrationally opposed to the left that you’ll allow yourselves to be totally deluded and used? Is this place underwritten by Exxon? I think it must be. This shit is just propaganda.

    And I’ve got to point of this gem: “Even if her most alarming predictions turn out to be true, solutions will have to rely upon innovation and a realistic assessment of what is possible.” Oh, just fuck right off with this. And I guess Quillette (with a helping hand from the oil industry) is going to define what is “possible” for us? Talk about a totalitarian attitude.

    • mitchellporter says

      Do you mean, why do so many Quillette commenters lean that way? Because the majority of Quillette articles about climate change do treat it as something that needs to be addressed.

      • dirk says

        Good question Mitch, what is Quillette? The line of articles, Claire”s influence and choice? Or the general color of the commenters? Sometimes this overlaps, but, especialy last time, not at all anymore. This is unlike most blogs, where the articles posted are received mostly with a loud applause, kudos and very few critical sounds. The clan behaviour and affinities , so well known.
        With other words: there seems to be more sustenance and continuity in the comments section than in the articles offered to us.

    • Aerth says

      “This shit is just propaganda.” so is what this girl is saying. Only question is: is it someone’s else propaganda or is she genuinely that naive and can only see doom and gloom (possible considering she is a teenager)

      Also, if she really got hijacked by yet another extreme-Left loons, it is only more dangerous.

      • Sean says

        No one is denying that the earth’s climate is changing. It has always been heating and cooling. This is why there have been ice ages and warmer periods when the ice melted. The single biggest factor affecting the earth’s temperature is the sun. When the sun is having a lot of flare ups, it gets warmer here. Much like a wood fire.

        It’s the hysteria around the environment that I detest. When I was a kid in the 80’s we were warned about the end of the world due to acid rain. This was followed by a hole in the ozone layer. Then the deforestation of the Amazon. Then global warming. When it’s not warming as predicted we’ve gone with climate change.

        It’s like simple sloganeering. Pick one topic and say it will end the world and anyone who questions it is a heretic/denier.

        I am all for living in a more environmentally friendly way. But let’s do it in a careful and intelligent way otherwise, as well as risking the problems of unintended consequences, we risk making many people suffer.

        Quite frankly, the thing that pisses me off most about the environmental movement is the absolute hypocrisy of its cheerleaders. Look at Al Gore. Flies around in a private jet and lives in a 20,000+ sq ft home with a heated outdoor pool. On top of this he has a few million dollar properties elsewhere. His carbon footprint is horrific but yet he is a hero to the enviro fanatics because he compensates by planting trees? Why not lead by example and plant trees anyway? Leo Dicaprio is another one. So to is out illustrious leader in Canada who just recently flew to flew on a private/government jet to Florida for a vacation on a Saturday and then flew back to Ottawa on Monday for meetings and then back to Florida a day or two later to resume the vacation.

        • The, uh, problems with acid rain and CFCs were both solved by environmental regulations which curbed harmful atmospheric pollutants, introduced as a direct result of political agitation by environmentalists.

          I’m broadly in favour of market-informed solutions such as carbon taxation, but I have no idea why Bjorn Lomberg thinks plowing money into renewables like wind and solar would be a waste of time. It’s precisely the cost of wind and solar that’s been dropping like a rock over the past few decades, to the extent that it’s already cost-competitive with coal as a power source in most areas.

          Solar insolation no doubt has some influence on global temperatures, but average solar insolation hasn’t been pretty steady for the past 30 years at the same time that global temperatures have been rising steadily. This is, like, the No.1 climate-denial myth that you can debunk trivially.

          • Sean says

            @ Morgan

            The point I made, not very well, is that there is one vogue environmental problem at a time rather than the whole picture.
            If you wanted to address the specifics of what I wrote how about the Amazon rainforest which was touted as the lungs of the world and if we didn’t do anything, the planet would be in peril? The Amazon has continuously been deforested since the 80’s and continues to be so. So indeed do many forests the world over.

            Solar activity has a huge effect on the earth and has not been that steady for 30 years. “The level of solar activity beginning in the 1940s is exceptional – the last period of similar magnitude occurred around 9,000 years ago (during the warm Boreal period).[6][7][8] The Sun was at a similarly high level of magnetic activity for only ~10% of the past 11,400 years. Almost all earlier high-activity periods were shorter than the present episode” ( )

            “I’m broadly in favour of market-informed solutions such as carbon taxation”. Ah yes, the crux of the left wing argument. There is no problem that more tax can’t fix.

          • For some reason quillette won’t let me reply to Sean’s post directly, but here we are-

            @Sean: Environmentalists have been agitating about CO2 emissions and climate change pretty consistently since at least the 1980s. This is not some ‘vogue’ issue. And no, solar isolation is not adequate to explain current warming trends- there’s been a clear divergence since around the 1960s.


            The ‘lungs of the world’ argument against deforestation was always a bunk claim (the net oxygen contribution of forests or any other local ecosystem is roughly zero, given their attendant animal and fungal biomass,) but serious scientists have never advanced this idea. The more relevant arguments are that forests sequester CO2 in the form of biomass as long as the trees are standing, inhibit soil erosion, moderate rainfall patterns, and harbour biodiversity and indigenous peoples. Which are… all reasonable arguments for curbing deforestation.

            And yes, I do support carbon-taxation, cap-and-trade arrangements, and similar forms of emission regulations that actually have a track record of efficiency and effectiveness.

          • Sean says


            I, too, am having problems replying directly. Maybe Quilette has had enough of our debate? Anyway, I read the link to Skeptical science you provided. Here is a rebuttal to the argument made in the comment section of the SkepSci article:

            “When we consider a short period, for example an 11 years period we can argue that the intensity of the solar irradiance is decreasing; however, if we consider a longer period, for example 400 years, we can see that the intensity of solar irradiance has not decreased. Some 400 years ago the solar irradiance intensity was 1365.5946 W/m^-2, while in 2000 the total solar irradiance intensity was 1366.6620 W/m^2. This year the Sun has been mostly spotless, but the solar irradiance intensity has been 1365 W/m^-2. This constitutes evidence on the existence of other solar “pulses” that we have not understood well:


            The science is hardly settled in this regard. I find it interesting that when you come across a peer reviewed scientific article that you disagree with you are willing to look at skeptical science and other websites that offer a different possible explanation (which is reasonable) but if people want to do the same with green house gases you call them deniers so as to equate them will morally repulsive holocaust deniers.

            “…the trees are standing, inhibit soil erosion, moderate rainfall patterns, and harbour biodiversity and indigenous peoples. Which are… all reasonable arguments for curbing deforestation.” is a strawman argument. I never said otherwise.

            Can you point to the results that show carbon-taxation and cap-and-trade arrangements have a track record of efficiency and effectiveness? Cap and trade is essentially the ability of the payor country to continue polluting by giving another country money. In theory the receiving country would reduce emissions in return for receiving money. However, there are many countries which will take the money and not give a damn about restricting pollution.

          • Jay Salhi says


            Acid rain was a nuisance, not a catastrophe. It was over-hyped to scare us.

            “The NAPAP reported in 1990. The findings were explosive: first, acid rain had not injured forests or crops in US or Canada; second, acid rain had no observable effect on human health; third, only a small number of lakes had been acidified by acid rain and these could be rehabilitated by adding lime to the water. In summary, acid rain was a nuisance, not a catastrophe.”


            “I have no idea why Bjorn Lomberg thinks plowing money into renewables like wind and solar would be a waste of time. It’s precisely the cost of wind and solar that’s been dropping like a rock over the past few decades, to the extent that it’s already cost-competitive with coal as a power source in most areas.”

            The cost of solar panels and wind turbines has dropped. But solar and wind are not cost effective because (i) they are dilute, (ii) they are intermittent. You cannot power a grid with solar or wind alone, you need a fossil fuel backup. So the true cost of wind must also include the cost of all the wind infrastructure plus the cost of natural gas (and all its infrastructure) or whatever else is backing it up. It would be cheaper to just use natural gas and eliminate the redundancy.

            Wind and solar also don’t last as long as fossil fuel plants. While wind farms are often stated to last 20 to 25 years, they lose significant efficiency much sooner. The largest study in the UK found that:

            “the efficiency rating of a turbine based on the percentage of electricity it actually produces compared with its theoretical maximum — is reduced from 24 per cent in the first 12 months of operation to just 11 per cent after 15 years.”


  34. Rick says

    This is wrong to let this young not yet developed young woman to be manipulated into this. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

  35. Ian Lea says

    Big Oil campaigns against AGW, world oil consumption is rising and is predicted to do so for decades. China’s coal consumption is at peak levels and rising after a short hiatus. India is the big mover then there is Africa. In 2030 Nigeria will have the world’s third largest population, wind and solar cannot drag Africa out of poverty. What solution do the young offer?

    • E. Olson says

      Solution: If you are poor now, you must stay poor. If you are rich now, you must make yourself poor, but in an environmentally friendly way (i.e. compost your cash).

  36. The scientific case against CO2 is overwhelming, the climate is returning to long term warmer conditions that existed for most of the last one billion years. CO2 mitigation will achieve nothing and ruin the economy. Let nature take us back to the warmer normal. We could not be in safer hands.

    • Centrist Gal says

      It isn’t. There is NO scientific case against CO2. You either know this, and are lying, or you are ignorant.

      Show me the EVIDENCE and then explain why, because WE produce the CO2, its relationship to temperature would suddenly change, after 600 million years.

  37. ga gamba says

    I just hope these children worldwide aren’t “unchaperoned” and don’t bump into incident fabricators like Nathan Philipps and his goofy drum.

  38. Centrist Gal says

    The level of ignorance on this issue by people who are probably well educated and consider themselves informed, is embarrassing.

    Here’s the thing: I used to be like you.

    Open your mind, DARE to dispel all the caricatures you have in your mind of evil deniers and evil fossil fuel companies (which are profiting nicely from the climate industry BTW) and START READING.

    It will take you a few months to get your head around it. Start from the basic premise that CO2 causes global warming. There is simply NO evidence of this in the geological record. 600 million years of it! CO2 at 4000ppm during a glaciation? Nor is there evidence of a consistent correlation at the modern time scale where CO2 is now only 400ppm,or 0.04% of the atmosphere.

    Even the IPCC admits to the uncertainties surrounding the warming and the still standing inability to show that the warming is anything other than natural.

    If you really value open inquiry, then start reasoning through the fundamental assumptions. If you’re intelligent, the precariousness of the entire theory quickly becomes apparent. Consider how those assumptions could possibly be tested in a constantly changing environment. Then, start reading about all the DOCUMENTED scientific fraud.

    Start checking what you hear in the media against the ACTUAL DATA. Once you start to realize that the media reports bear NO relation to reality, you will begin to understand the scale of the deception. Stop being lazy. Start checking!

    Do not use sites like Skeptical Science as your source of information. It is not credible!

    • dirk says

      What you actually want to say here, centrist g., the kid just talks BS!!

    • mitchellporter says

      I’m assuming you don’t have a specific alternative climatological paradigm to advance (or you would state it), and that you just don’t believe that CO2 levels are among the factors contributing to the state of Earth’s climate.

      May I point out that even among “climate skeptics”, this is something of a crackpot position. The most elementary evidence that CO2 warms the Earth is found in arguments like that of … namely, given its distance from the sun, Earth should be below freezing, but we can account for its actual temperature through the known (observed) absorption properties of CO2, plus a basic greenhouse effect.

      The complexities of global warming, as I see it, are (literally and figuratively) a matter of degrees… how much of a difference is made by all the auxiliary factors, like water vapor, clouds, albedo. Will a doubling of CO2 take us up by 1 degree or 3 degrees, and would it take 50 years or 500 years for that transition to play out.

      I googled to find out what “glaciation at 4000ppm” refers to, and sorry, Skeptical Science has what seems a fair introduction to the issue. In the epoch in question, CO2 is estimated to have remained at around 4000ppm when examined at 20-million-year intervals. The “glaciation” refers to a 1-million-year period in which an ice cap existed. Also, the sun was dimmer and as much as 3000ppm was required for an ice-free planet. So “all that you need” (of course, these are actually huge upheavals, but we’re talking about a million years), is a temporary 1000ppm drop, for which they offer speculative biological and geological causes.

      I am not at all saying this is the correct analysis – I am an absolute novice at paleoclimatology, and just because scientists have a plausible-sounding explanation for most oddities in the record, does not mean that those explanations are the right ones. But what I don’t see here is the grand cover-up, throwing sand in the eyes of the public in order to hide the threadbare fake consensus, etc. On the contrary, the basic model of how global warming works makes a great deal of sense, and it would require something remarkable to replace that with a new paradigm in which the major factors driving climate are water vapor, cosmic rays, and so forth.

      • dirk says

        Coincidentally, I came across an estimate of some climatologist about the concentration of CO2 where ALL C-reserves (fossil fuel gas coal and others) are burned up (by humans, the only ones responsible for such); 4000 ppm, or, 10x as much as the current 400. He also calculated, to stay below the Copenhagen 2 degrees higher, we can burn up not more than 2.5% of these rserves. Imagine, we are just going on and on and on with that consumption, I have not yet read what that would mean, all broiling or cooking in a large pot? Though, at some point, even the most fierce deniers would have to think again, something what just now is not yet necessary!

      • But What About Sunspots? says

        Sorry Mitchell, your position may sound sensible, but Centrist Gall used more ALL CAPS in her arguments, so she wins.

  39. Jackson Howard says

    The level of ignorance on this issue by people who are probably well educated and consider themselves informed, is embarrassing.


    By 4000ppm during glaciation, I guess you are referring to the Ordovician–Silurian period. Conveniently you forgot to mention that C02 levels during the period before the glaciation where at 7000ppm. And that the sun luminosity was ~10% lower.

    A more comparable and better documented period would be the paleocene-eocene thermal maximum where C02 levels went to 2000ppm for a +5-8°C warming. That was from a C02 injection over 20Kyr. We are doing it over 100yr. What could go wrong heh ^^-

  40. Paul says

    Here is the great weakness of Quillette, and of the ‘right’ and mainstream liberalism in general: a refusal to take ecological issues seriously, based on a tragically partisan perspective. Because the left has hijacked the ecological movement for its own ends (‘social, ecological and gender justice’ indeed – as if those three things even fit together), the right and the ‘classical liberals’ tend to oppose hearing any serious ‘green’ message. In this way, the fate of life on Earth jas become tragically partisan.

    I wish that sites like this could rise above this. Instead you let a Bloomberg journalist who specialises in writing about oil and gas extraction take a pop at a sixteen year old girl who may well be naive – she’s 16! – but also has a pretty clear-eyed view of a runaway civilisation and its impacts.

    Any ecologist or biologist could tell you about the mass extinction currently unfolding. The vast majority of climatologists are agreed about the dangers of climate change. This is not theory, or ‘leftist’ propaganda, and it is not very controversial either. Whatever is to be done about it, something must be. What does Quillette propose? Other than the usal ‘defend liberal capitalism at all costs’ line? I speak as a reader who enjoys much of your content. But this is your big blind spot.

    • dirk says

      Again here, Paul, what is Quillette? The editors/publishers? Or the comment section? Or a weighted average? What is a typical Quillette comment? Does it exist?

      • Nicolas says

        Quillette is mostly garbage, that much is clear.

        • E. Olson says

          Nicolas – when you say mostly, do you mean Quillette is all garbage except for your gracious and insightful comments?

    • Sean says

      Let’s for a moment say that you are correct and we are heading towards an ecological disaster. What do you propose we do about it?

      Are we to stop driving any vehicles that burn gas or diesel? There aren’t enough electric vehicles in production to replace all the ICE vehicles. Who pays for them? They’re expensive and beyond the reach of many. What about the enormous resources to build the 100’s of millions of vehicles required to replace those currently in use around the world? How do we produce the electricity to power them? If this is to be green we simply don’t have anywhere near the green energy capacity to power electric vehicles in a green way.

      Are we to stop buying so many consumer goods? Which ones? What happens to the people employed in those jobs?

      If we are to reduce the population how do you propose to do it? If we’re to do this through reduced number of children it will take decades to make a difference.

      • dirk says

        Your time table is too reduced, we are not talking in years or decennia, but in centuries, millennia. In decennia, the differences and impacts are so small as to be almost unnoticed, but ongoing, of course, whether you want it or not.

      • @Sean: Youtuber potholer54 did a useful video on the topic of market-oriented solutions to climate change here. You won’t abolish all CO2 emissions in the near future, but we could plausibly cut them by around 30-50% using relatively low-cost technologies. In the longer term, the price point for fossil fuels will simply keep rising and the price point for renewables will keep falling, so I’m not too worried there.

        • Sean says

          Thank for the link. It has some good information but it is biased. It talks about China investing in solar panels but neglects to mention the new coal plants China is building ( ). Also a program that says Al Gore is a visionary (a man who has one of the largest carbon footprints in the world) has to viewed with caution. If you excuse his actions because he talks a good game then why should anyone do anything other than talk because 99.9% of the world’s population won’t pollute as much as he does.

          If they estimate they could possibly save 30-50% of CO2 emissions, then the reality is probably at best 15-20%. And if this takes several years, what are we to do in the mean time considering we are told catastrophic climate changes are imminent? Additionally we have to add to this picture that the world’s population is growing fairly quickly and developing countries are becoming wealthier, which means they will want higher standards of living and more goods, cars etc

        • E. Olson says

          Morgan – everyone wants a cleaner and more sustainable environment, and if clean technologies are actually the low cost option, why wouldn’t there be a massive switch to them? The fact that there isn’t a massive switch (at least not without huge subsidies) means that the people telling you that green is also low cost are lying.

        • Jay Salhi says


          I like potholer54’s videos but this one was not very good. The stuff about China is cherry picked garbage that ignores China’s continued expansion of coal. On the issue of storage, he is eternally optimistic. If a revolutionary break through comes along, great. But until it does wind and solar are not good options. And there is no guarantee that such a breakthrough is coming any time soon, if ever.

          He seems to think wind turbines often producing too much energy is a good thing. It is not. It forces the grid operators to dump the excess energy on the neighbors. Germany and Denmark to do this. But what happens if every country in Europe has as much wind as Germany and Denmark, where are you going to dump the excess to keep from frying the grid?

    • Pirkka Jokela says

      I went back to make sure and I still think this article actually did not oppose action to stop climate change. It is true that the end of the article was a bit dodgy on this.

      I would love to see a series of articles on Quillette that would propose different ways of handling climate change. I would not expect Quillette to have their own proposal for that. In my local media climate change is always the main topic nowadays, but I very seldom see concrete suggestions of how we are actually going to achieve the emission reduction targets.

    • I had to plow through barnyard heaps of horse manure to get to a comment with any substantive credible thought processes behind it. Luckily to date these comments are not infecting the main body of Quillette thinking…not yet anyway. Maybe we should thank Claire for exposing the frantic rants of ignoramuses, cynics, climate deniers, privileged overconsumers, free market fanatics, libertarian airheads who monopolize the comments on this blog, and who manage to accuse their adversaries of lying while offering up their own opinions as correct, without evidence. Luckily the commenters are not likely to be put in positions of authority. When someone announces with surety that all environmentalists want to kill off billions of people, one starts to wonder just who is the crazy one.

  41. neoteny says

    Today, Thunberg is […] has renounced air travel. […] in Katowice, where she spoke at the COPD24 conference

    How did she get to Katowice & back to Sweden? or to Davos & back?

  42. Jackson Howard says

    By train, passing on the Oresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden.

    It’s a nice piece of engineering, and a convenient one.

  43. neoteny says

    By train

    Glad that you have knowledge of this: now prove it, i.e. that she has done all four travels of hers (Katowice & back to Sweden, Davos & back to Sweden) by train.

  44. Jackson Howard says

    Let me unpack it to you : you are making an ad hominem tu quoque (inconsistency between speach and action) with a loaded question, then when faced with a disapointing answer, chose to move the goalpost.

    This pretty much sums up to quality of the climate change denial “arguments”.

    NB : if she made the trip in a single/two person car, if would have about the same impact as taking a commercial flight. So don’t forget to attack activists with that next time you can.

    • neoteny says

      Let me unpack it to you:


      you are making an ad hominem tu quoque (inconsistency between spe[e]ch and action)


      with a loaded question

      According to Wikipedia, “[a] loaded question or complex question is a question that contains a controversial or unjustified assumption (e.g., a presumption of guilt).” Where was the controversial or unjustified assumption in my question? Please be specific.

      then when faced with a disapointing answer

      The answer wasn’t disappointing: it wasn’t justified.

      chose to move the goalpost.

      How did I move the goalpost? Please be specific.

  45. Boris says

    Relying on the same broken system that has ignored and denied climate change for decades is not a meaningful path to a solution. Sensible solutions might emerge, but they won’t emerge without significant activist pressure counteracting the enormous amount of right-wing disinformation and denial.

    • Shawn T says

      Ignored? Denied? Governments haven’t seized industry or contrived carbon taxes (to generate wealth on markets based on imaginary units akin to calories) or driven their nations into abject poverty and sod huts. There you are correct. Nearly every aspect of everyone’s lives have been impacted while striking some balance with civilized life. The political reality of climate change is expressed in the groups bleating about imminent death and extinction also aligning with social and economic justice – this playbook has been revealed many times over. There is a distinct reason nuclear is never part of the discussion and most objectives center on government confiscation, fear and progressive radicalism – this movement is political, not existential.

    • Markus Hemenez says

      I’m a fence sitter in this climate change debate because I have taken the time to actually read the studies and reports. I have to admit I’m more confused than ever as both sides of the debate makes good points. However what I’m sure is the climate change movement has been used by governments, celebrities, and politicians to enrich themselves, exploit others, and manoeuvre themselves to more favourable political/social positions.

  46. Sergio Silva says

    “Asperger’s syndrome, an obsessive compulsive disorder, and selective mutism”… Selective Mutism?! Sounds legit… This just means that her parent’s doctors are idiots! XD

  47. Shawn T says

    The past year has seen a dramatic and dangerous shift in climate alarmism. The use of children is appalling. Behind every one of these children is an organization running puppets. The huge shift is from long term concern to full blown claims of extinction in 12 years. AOC, Beto, and all these kids convinced the earth will end in 12 years (actually less, since the clock has started!). This is the basis for a death cult. What are these hysterical people and those who buy in going to do in 10 or 11 years? What will they do in 2 when, no matter how much change has occurred, they insist they are doomed? Regardless of scolds, the world has changed in previously unimaginable ways. Fuel efficiency, natural gas, carbon filtering, every light bulb is now highly efficient, home insulation standards, bulk transportation efficiency, waste management, and on and on. Have these changes netted no difference in forecast? Why not? The basic problem is the shift from a reasonable discussion of reasonable improvements to fanaticism. The moment this turned on was the declaration that the scientific matter was settled and closed for discussion. At that point, the movement became a dogmatic religion. There are believers and heretics, rather than a nuanced and healthy range of scepticism. We witness the rise of an inquisition. We will never again have an objective, scientific assessment of progress or validity, if there ever was one. Who will this 12 year death cult seek to purify in the coming years? We are all sure it couldn’t possibly be ourselves.

  48. It seems very apparent that this child was named “woman of the year” in Sweden and nominated for a Nobel prize because of her various mental illnesses.

    All to whip up greater public attention for the green cause and make it difficult for anyone to rebut her, lest they be accused of being “frightened” of a disabled child.

    It’s more than a little creepy.

  49. Peter P. says

    What absolute nonsense. It’s getting quite frustrating to see climate folly and propaganda desplayed on Quillette. Guess the writers here are just another ilk of numbskulls paid by the Koch brothers and conservative and fossil fuel interests.

    Unlike you, Quillette team, Thunberg and others have moral principles and are consistent in their enunciations. She isn’t for sale – but you clearly are.

    Stop posting this crap and start showing some semblance of give-a-shit-ness to your readers. Your entire news outlet is creeping its ugly agenda yet again with this joke of an article.

    I encourage everyone reading this to pronounce their discontent at these shams at every opportunity and let others know that climate action is and always has been the right thing to do. Don’t let this slide by – this is a clear demonstration of greed, ignorance, and severe moral indignity.

    The future of our children DOES NOT depend on the special interests of the morally repugnant and corrupt.

    • @Peter P.

      I, for one, am glad that Quillette is not a paid shill for George Soros and the Democratic Party.

    • Shawn T says

      @Peter And that, dear reader, is how a zealot “debates.” Perhaps address something from the article, rather than screaming “Heretics must burn!!!”

    • Shawn T says

      Peter: And that, dear reader, is how a zealot “debates.” Perhaps address something from the article rather than screaming, “Heretic!”

      • Shawn T says

        Apologies for double reply. One didn’t post for some time and I thought there might have been a technical problem or I may have somehow violated a posting rule of some sort.

        • @Shawn T

          I have sometimes had to completely close Quillette and then start it again, and wait for a couple of minutes for my comment to appear.

          Sometimes it shows up immediately. There’s no telling.

    • tds says

      It’s very surprising to see an environmental activist condescend to all those who disagree with him, not just making an argument that they are wrong, but that they are immoral and corrupt.

      • @tds

        It seems to me that Peter P. has no intention of persuading anyone to agree with him.

        He came to shame and to virtue-signal to a clan that, so far, hasn’t become well established here.

    • Charlie says

      The climate varies. The C02 levels were about 5x times in the Jurassic and 6x ties in the Cretaceous and from the Triassic to the Neogene the earth had a Greenhouse Climate – warm, wet and high CO2, hence high vegetation growth. In the last 2. millions we have been in an ice age period: 10-15,000 yrs of warm interglacial and 100-120,000 of ice age. The Sahara was savanna to 12,800 years ago, became desert to 11,500 yrs then back to savannah to 5900 yrs and then desert again. The drying of the Sahar 5900yrs ago forced people to migrate to the Nile and created the Egyptian civilisation ; ditto for Sumer. Photosynthesis becomes very slow at 150 ppm CO2 and recently it reached 180 ppm. The greatest threat is cold, low CO2 and dry conditions as plant growth will be minimised. The biggest reservoir of plants are phytoplankton the oceans.

      Between about 1690AD and 1740 AD temperature in England rose at rate of 3.4 C/century, yet overall there was a little Ice Age from about 1680 to 1850 AD. No computer models have predicted the constant temperature from 1998 to 2018. Computer models are only correct if they predict accurately .

      There have been the Medieval ice Age, Roman and Minoan Warm Periods when it was warmer than today.

      At present there few areas suitable for mass production of food; the Canadian America Prairies and Ukrainian Russian Steppes being vital. If these areas suffer increased cold, reduced rainfall then food production will be decreased. Satellites have recorded a greening in Sahara over the last 30 years. Increased CO2 increases rooting depth and makes plants more resistant to drought.The total ice mass at N and S poles has increased.

      I would suggest the issues
      1. Increases in population.
      2. Degradation of soils.
      3. Possible cooling and drying- the Sun is very quiet and could we be entering another ice age. .

      Humans moved out of the jungle 5 millions years ago into the Savana which had increased due to warming. The climate varies and it would appear that we can enter and leave ice ages over a few hundred years or even decades. freezing of woolly mammoths such that they have not decayed suggests climate can cool very quickly. We do not know for sure why we are in an ice age but luckily we in the inter warm period but based upon previous experiences we overdue for re-entering an ice age by about 1000-1500 years.

      How much does the temperature and rainfall have to decline in the Canadian America Prairies and Ukrainian Russian Steppes with perhaps N China Argentina, Australia and New Zealand to produce famine ?

    • Peter, of course she is for sale. The payment is not always money but that often follows.

  50. tds says

    I’m sure plenty of grade schoolers can be made to parrot their parent’s views on a subject like abortion or the dangers of immigration, it’s another thing entirely whether the media will choose to obsessively and uncritically cover it. This is just media selection bias in action.

    This is just so cynically done, there isn’t a person with more than 3 brain cells left that doesn’t understand that kids like this are being exploited as political props. It’s even worse than politicians with their happy family photos. It is worse than unconvincing, it is counter productive and builds walls. A 16 year old’s condescending views of controversial topic says much more about the people who put her out in front of the cameras and applaud than it does about the subject at hand.

  51. Gentsu Gen says

    I think a short summary is in order here. The whole “you’re a believer or a denier” view is a false dichotomy. What else in life is a simple dichotomy?

    Yes, most climate scientists are convinced that the world is warming due to C02. But climate scientists are widely divided on how serious a problem this is and what the consequences will be if we don’t reduce atmospheric C02 (and by what amount). I defy anyone to show that the majority of them think that catastrophe is ‘for sure’ 12 years away. Most of the climate scientists I’ve read or seen speak discuss RISK and are very careful to place very wide error bars on their estimates. Why? Because the science (especially on the prediction side) is anything but settled.

    I view the climate fanatics the same way I do really serious abortion foes. They say that a fetus is a life. But if a million four year olds were taken to their doctors by their mothers to be murdered each year, there would be revolution in the streets. My conclusion is that they don’t really believe that the life of a fetus and the life of a four year old are equivalent. Maybe “life” but not equivalent. If they did, there would be armed insurrection (at least here in the US where there are more guns than people.)

    Same thing with the climate fanatics. If they REALLY believed that the world cannot be saved in 12 years, they’d be doing more than just propping up their 16 year olds in front of video cameras. Is this wrong? I don’t think so. Sixteen is pretty close to adulthood, and hey, free speech and all. But, if carbon is gonna FOR SURE kill us all and soon, where is the panic? All I hear is some preaching and some shrieking. Lots of highly reasoned OP-EDs. Actors telling me I’m (!) selfish. You know, meh.

    I don’t think you fanatics are real, true believers.

    Your reasons? Many have been offered here in the comments. Fifteen minutes of fame (think Greta). Political revolution. Following the crowd.

    My beliefs? Who cares but someone will ask in the replies if I get any.

    C02 generation is one of the top 10 problems in the world. If unchecked, it will probably make the world unlivable (at least as we know it). Almost certainly not within 12 years. Probably not within 20, but after that I think we’re on a trajectory that we might not be able to change.

    Yes, I could be wrong. But when I see the proposals to deal with it, like the Green New Deal here in the US, I’m way more frightened of the cure than the disease. But I’ll be casting my votes for folks who address the problem in rational ways. Ultimately, I know and the True Believers should recognize that all that really matters is what India and China and South East Asia do in the next 30 years. What the US does (13% contribution to global C02) won’t matter much at all.

    • @Gentsu Gen

      “I don’t think you fanatics are real, true believers.”

      I think they are true believers, all right. Believers in the destruction of capital and the ascendence of international socialism.

      Climate change, real enough, is but a convenient excuse for what really matters.

  52. a bee ee? says

    I suppose we can all be grateful that Greta won’t be bearing any kids of her own.

  53. OLd NiK says

    Didn’t the Khmer Rouge have a 14 year old ‘Revolutionary Hero’ who devised a particularly efficient method of liquidating ‘Class enemies’ with a readily available hammer?

  54. aaroutio says

    When I read about this girl, the memory of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution comes to my mind. Kids are way too easy to manipulate. Strange no one else thought about this analogy in the comments.
    The only reason this girl enjoys all the publicity is the lack of real debate on the subject. She wouldn’t stand in an argument against a real scientist. She enjoys life in the echo chamber…

  55. Erica from the West Village says

    This poor kid has been weaponized by the AltLeft, who will stop at nothing to drive their revolution forward.

    It’s sad really. Reminds me of the Nazi Youth Brigades.

    • scribblerg says

      @Erica from the West Village – “Alt left” – tell me, what’s the difference between the left and the alt left in terms of their positions and political philosophy? An honest leftist would have to admit that all the AOCs and other ‘radicals’ are doing is actually taking leftist ideas seriously and are trying to implement them.

      Am I wrong?

      ScribblerG who used to live in the East Village, which is much cooler than the West Village but now lives in the country by a lake.

  56. Fernando Leza says

    The Guardian isn’t a good source for CO2 emissions data or future emissions forecast. The statement that India is the only large nation with increasing CO2 emissions is false. The best source for this information is the EDGAR data base. The data shows the worldwide increase in emissions is lower than forecasted by the IPCC in their “Business as Usual” case known as RCP8.5

  57. Talking about clean and efficient energy to lower costs for energy and cut emissions here in Australia, I’m baffled to see no politician dares talk about nuclear, when by all means is the safest way to kill two birds with one stone: cheaper electricity and fewer emissions.

  58. dirk says

    Apart of similarities with Pipi Longstocking and the Children Crusade (see my comments above), I noticed one more. With the Oskar of Gunther Grass’ Die Blechtrommel. Oskar refuses to grow up into an adult in pre-Nazi Germany, he is making hell of noice on his Trommel and screams his lungs out as soon as he notices the sounds and movements of upcoming Nazional Socialismus, and only decided to grow again after the Russians destroyed Nazi Germany (it was in Danzig). Also Greta, it looks like, decided to stop growing into adulthood, of sheer insubordinance?? She is 16!!! But still looks very much like a kid.

  59. Paul says

    Note to the author and editors, India is not in the Southern Hemisphere.

  60. GBD says

    “Carbon Engineering Ltd., which pulls up to a million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air a year and transforms it into fuel at a pilot facility in Squamish, B.C., said it raised the funds from investors including mining giant BHP, Chevron Corp. and Occidental Petroleum Corp., as well as Canadian billionaire Peter J. Thomson.” Why is nobody doing anything about climate change, indeed.

  61. Ted talks are becoming a sad joke. It’s the “adults” who are using her and the “adults” who are gullible enough to follow a 16 year old “activist” who scare me.

  62. Barney Doran says

    What is needed here another Children’s Crusade made up of children like this and hopefully with the same results as the first.

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  64. scribblerg says

    I made a very comprehensive, well sourced comment here that was fact based. I did start off by dismissing this article as vapid – and then I believe I went on to prove it.

    Apparently one must pay obeisance here as well. Or maybe it’s just cuz there were 4-5 links in my post? You know, backing up my contentions with citations of reputable sources? Is that the problem?

    “Being nice” is what’s killing our society. We need more criticism and toughness, not more fluffing.

  65. Julio Campos says

    “Never mention it? One of the placards often held up by climate change protesters says there’s no “Planet B,” but Greta does appear to have been living on another planet for the past 16 years.”

    Let’s take a look at the past 16 years, or better, let’s go back to 1992.

    What changed? You claim that much has been discussed about the problem and that Greta seems to fail to acknowledge that.

    That’s a lot of bias here. Yes, much have been said, commitments have been made, agreements have signed. With no results whatsoever.

    That’s what she’s talking about.

    We’ll have to face a nearly impossible cost to solve the problem? Well, we ruined a planet. Not a neighborhood, a village, a forest. A entire planet.

    That’s what adults need to explain? It’s too expensive? We had time. Since 72 we’re being warned about it. The governments and economy choose to do nothing.

    • dirk says

      But what else could government and “economy” have done instead, Julio? I really see no alternatives, than that way further up, or down, who knows. It’s all capitalism, free markets and the idea that the citizen and voter knows best (=democracy). But do they?

    • Jay Salhi says


      “That’s what adults need to explain? It’s too expensive?”

      If the adults try to turn the clock back 200 years and get rid of all the toys the kids (and the adults) play with (i.e., modern civilization brought to us by fossil fuels), the kids will be less enthusiastic about the need for dramatic action. The “we must do something crowd” lacks an even basic understanding of what meeting the CO2 reduction targets would mean. It simply isn’t possible with existing technology.

    • EventHorizon says

      What were you warned about? Ice free Arctic in the summer? Lower Manhattan underwater?

      I have news for you. The doomsday predictions of Hansen and co. have not come to pass. Go back and see Hansen’s interviews from 15-20 years ago. Or the predictions of climate models from 30, 20 and 10 years ago. Doing nothing was the correct course of action.

      I firmly believed Hanson and Al Gore when I was younger. With a passion even. But then I decided to look at what they predicted and more importantly, what the weather stations and satellite data were telling us. And it was clear to me that we’ve not seen any appreciably climate change beyond natural fluctuations. See for yourself:

      Just today the BBC were telling us that due to climate change the bodies of dead mountaineers in the Himalayas were being exposed by melting ice. Apparently they’re too dumb to realize that if the bodies are now exposed, the glacier must have been where it is today way back when the climbers died.

  66. Adam says

    She missed the backside cover of the book, where it clearly says in large, friendly letters: DON’T PANIC.

    • dirk says

      I’m not so afraid for panic, Adam, that occurs only at instantaneous happenings, floods, fires,war, explosions. Maybe, this absence of panic is the mere reason for sorrow, why should populations and nations change politics where you can’t see much clearcut negativity around?

  67. EventHorizon says

    Okay, let’s see the data. Here are all weather stations used to make the famous hockey stick graph, straight from NASA:

    She’s from Sweden. If you look at Sweden, there are three weather stations used to infer warming: Jonkoping, Karlstad and Ostersund.

    Question: looking at the measured data (the actual average temperature measured, not the massaged ones), does any station show ANYTHING other than natural fluctuations?

    These people are nuts. They are willing to lower everyone’s standard of living for virtually nothing.

  68. Barnpot says

    Erm, if she was sincere in opposing climate change, she would agitate to send massive solar reflectors in space at the L1 point to deflect 1% of the sun’s radiation. This can be done relatively cheaply and will immediately reduce global warming, while helping plants to become more productive. But no, she want to cut down my use of electricity and heat (but not the 3rd world’s consumption). Socialists hate the people who naturally consume stuff, because they are losers who never made the money to consume like the rest of us.

  69. Teresa Brooks says

    What a condescending title. Why not tell ‘children’ the truth, whether or not they protest? I suggest the writer enter into a dialogue with Greta, rather than a critique.

  70. David says

    I think that Great should be granted more charity than the article does. Her basic premise, that we are in a deep impending crisis, is valid: there is actual evidence of its already happening, for instance in the perilous state of the world’s oceans and in the continuing destruction of irreplaceable rain-forest habitats. Modern electronics and materials essential to the green revolution depend on various metals that are in limited supply and are not interchangeable, and there are no further elements left to be discovered. Perhaps we could innovate ourselves out of the current situation, but history shows that civilizations tend to collapse after a certain degree of complexity and over-consumption of resources has been reached.

    Instead of dismissing her argument as demagoguery, I would class it as an invitation to take up the issues she invokes in full seriousness and realize that personal sacrifice is a necessary element of any viable solution (I’m advocating some form of austerity, not Communism). Personally I find Charles Eisenstein’s less militant brand of criticism, which revolves around identifying and critiquing the central cultural myths to which we are beholden, more refined that Greta’s approach, but hers is far preferred to that of the laissez-faire free-market capitalism that holds sway nowadays (with all due respect to its achievements thus far).

  71. Alistair says

    Greta Thunberg is no more ignorant than many adults, who simply choose not to look, or not to see. The neoliberalist policies and consumer driven economies have done almost nothing with regard to environmental concerns: nature has been treated as a simple resource – free to all takers.
    It is all very well to say that Free Market Capitalism has increased the quality of life for many billions; but there is a balanced view to take and the environmental consequences are, very often, totally ignored, or treated as a trendy footnote to corporate accounts. The system makes it extremely difficult to control population, for example – it simply doesn’t work as a sum: the old are a burden to the state, the economy has to pay, this requires wealth generation, this requires expansion, etc..

    Let us face it honestly, in terms of environmental degradation, the view is, indeed, terrifying: CO2 levels are higher than they have been for the past three million years. In the last decade our carbon emission levels are the highest in history, and we have not yet experienced their full impact. If we were to stop emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow (and we are not), we are still on track for much higher heat for at least ten years. Further feedback systems, that are not under our control, are likely, the most deadly of which is the release of methane gases that have been trapped for eons under arctic ice and what is now (euphemistically) known as permafrost – 86 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas. Arctic ice is 60% less than when I was a child, the ice of Antarctica is also rapidly melting at an acceleration of 280% in the last forty years, Arctic ice has been the coolant for the northern part of the planet and it impacts worldwide climate as well. Its white surface also reflects back into space much of the heat from the sun, as does the Antarctic ice. As the ice melts, the dark ocean absorbs the heat and the warming ocean more quickly melts the remaining ice. Over the past three decades, the oldest and thickest of the Arctic sea ice has declined by a whopping 95%, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2018 annual Arctic report.
    There is more and it is “hard” data – this is not sensationalist alarmism.

    Of course she is not giving a nuanced message: that has been given by many people, for many decades and roundly ignored: the changes have not been deep enough or radical enough. I was born in 1960 and had conversations in my teens about the unsustainable nature of our society (whilst enjoying many of the benefits of them, I am not saying that this is easy! But I have at least shunned air travel and foreign holidays and avoided plastics and chemicals, where possible – small things, but if all did so, things that would make a very significant difference).
    I applaud her for making a stance; I applaud the younger generation for standing up and pressurising those in positions of established power.
    Solutions have to be found – and rapidly – to avoid a climate catastrophe that will more than decimate the earth populations of most higher mammals and vertebrates, including homo-sapiens.
    So no, I will not condemn her, or dismiss her stance as populist – we need people like her to make a noise, we always have. Being polite, middle class, professional and balanced has done far too little to address this issue. Politicians have vested interests to protect; President Macron introduced a small rise in tax towards environmental protection and look what happened in France!
    Unless we have figureheads / leaders to inspire a change of mind(set), the status quo will prevail and it will be too late. I can think of no one who would take any pleasure in saying “I told you so”.
    Above and beyond all of this, little or no thought is given to the fact that “we” do not “own” all other creatures, or the natural world. What appalling arrogance to think that we are morally justified in doing so and in thinking that the planet somehow belongs to us, to do with as we choose. What an appalling tragedy for all that is being sacrificed.

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