Activism, Environment, recent, Recommended

Self-Harm Versus the Greater Good: Greta Thunberg and Child Activism

Greta is eleven years old and has gone two months without eating. Her heart rate and blood pressure show clear signs of starvation. She has stopped speaking to anyone but her parents and younger sister, Beata. 

After years of depression, eating disorders, and anxiety attacks, she finally receives a medical diagnosis: Asperger’s syndrome, high-functioning autism, and OCD. She also suffers from selective mutism—which explains why she sometimes can’t speak to anyone outside her closest family. When she wants to tell a climate researcher that she plans a school strike on behalf of the environment, she speaks through her father.

The book Scenes from the Heart (“Scener från Hjärtat,” 2018) recounts these medical difficulties and the events that led to Greta Thunberg’s now-famous “school strike for climate,” in which hundreds of thousands of children have refused to attend school to protest about government inaction over climate change. Greta herself strikes every Friday and spent three weeks sitting outside the Swedish Parliament at the beginning of the school year. Written by her family—mother, father, Beata and Greta—the story is told in the voice of Greta’s mother, the opera soprano Malena Ernman, who was a celebrity in Europe long before her daughter’s fame. Although the book is only available in Swedish for the time being, it is already being translated into numerous languages—a development that reflects the global fascination with Thunberg’s campaign.

We are offered a story of “a family in crisis and a planet in crisis”—two phenomena that are presented as inextricably linked. The book posits that oppression of women, minorities, and people with disabilities stem from the same overarching root problem as climate change: an unsustainable way of life. The family’s private crisis and the global climate crisis, the authors argue, are simply symptoms of the same systemic disorder.

Greta is not alone in her mental suffering, according to the book. Her sister Beata, who was 12 when the book was written, lives with ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, and OCD. She is prone to sudden outbursts of anger, during which she screams obscenities at her mother. What would normally be a 10-minute walk to dance class takes almost an hour because Beata insists on walking with her left foot in front, refuses to step on certain parts of the sidewalk, and demands that her mother walk the same way. She also insists that her mother wait outside during class—she isn’t allowed to move, even to go to the bathroom. The child still ends up weeping in her mother’s arms.

Like many parents of children with similar diagnoses, Greta and Beata’s parents fight hard for their daughters to receive the right care and assistance in school. When Greta refuses to eat they do everything they can to save her from starving herself. Her father begs their doctor to save Beata from whatever it is that plagues her. To read the story is heart-wrenching, many times over. 

And yet as someone who does not share the family’s political views—that the girls’ problems are inextricable from the climate crisis, and that the cure is to “change the system”—I wonder whether the world needs to know the intimate details about the lives of these two anguished young girls.

Swedish 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a march for the environment in Brussels. Photo: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock

Which brings me to us—editors, journalists, prize juries, teachers, onlookers.

It has been less than a year since Scenes from the Heart was published and, during that time, Greta has become a global celebrity. This week, she was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time Magazine. She has briefly met the Pope, who encouraged her to “Keep doing what you’re doing.” She has received numerous awards, including, most recently, the German Golden Camera award. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She has been featured and interviewed in most of the world’s leading media. She has appeared on a panel with the UN Secretary General António Guterres, addressed the European Parliament, and lunched with the Financial Times.

“Is Greta the new Che Guevara?” asked the German TV-anchor Maybrit Ilner recently during a TV debate about the striking school children. 

In defense of the excellent Ms. Ilner, she probably meant to refer to Che Guevara as a global political symbol. But the question is telling: Greta is turning into a revolutionary icon.

Given what we know about Greta’s problems and challenges, is this an appropriate adult response to Greta’s school strike?

It is easy to exoticize. It is easy to look at pictures of the girl with pigtails and simply see someone out of the ordinary. Someone—or something—foreign. German media have dubbed Greta the “Pippi Longstocking of climate change,” with reference to another Swedish girl-rebel with a similar hairdo. They don’t seem to appreciate that the girl with pigtails comes from a country where her peers look more like the stars of the Norwegian television series SKAM than Pippi Longstocking—or that the girl is clearly marked by years of self-starvation. Instead they choose to portray the child as a dated cultural stereotype, based on her looks.

A workplace strike shows company owners and management that workers are able to harm them economically. A school strike, on the other hand, constitutes a form of self-harm, undertaken to attract adult attention. And the global school strike for climate is led by a girl with a long and tragic history of self-harm to her own body. 

In Scenes from the Heart, when Greta eventually starts eating again, she only allows herself certain foods. Her mother has to prepare the same food every day for Greta to bring to school and keep in the school refrigerator: pancakes filled with rice. Greta will eat them only if there is no sticker with her name on the container: stickers, paper and newspapers trigger Greta’s OCD against eating.

I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day, Greta said when she addressed the world’s leaders in Davos.

Given the child’s history of precisely that—fear and panic—the adult response should perhaps not be “You go, girl” (the words of Madeleine Albright when she was asked what she thinks of Greta’s school strike), but something considerably more cautious.

Greta does not skip classes from just any school, but one for children with special needs. Many other Swedish families fight hard to get their children into such schools, because places are rare. According to the family’s book, however, resources will be ample for such families once we change the system—including, according to Ernman, “patriarchal structures” that she claims favor boys with neuropsychiatric disorders over girls.

I do not wish to suggest that Greta is too young to understand the consequences of her actions, nor that the challenges she faces make her unsuitable to take a stand on political issues, or even to lead a global movement. No one who has heard her address world leaders in impeccable English can doubt that she is very intelligent. Ernman also stresses that her daughter has never felt better than during her campaign for the climate. Greta herself has said that realizing that she could do something about climate change has helped her recover.

I am also not questioning Greta’s role as a public speaker, nor the power of hundreds of thousands of protesting school children, nor that climate change is an existential threat to humankind.

But adults have a moral obligation to remain adults in relation to children and not be carried away by emotions, icons, selfies, images of mass protests, or messianic or revolutionary dreams.

Greta was recently named ”Woman of the Year” by a Swedish newspaper. But she is not a woman, she is a child. It is time we stopped to ask if we are using her, failing her, and even sacrificing her, for what we perceive to be a greater good.

Editor’s note: On April 24, 2019, a substantially edited version of this article was published without the prior approval of the author. Quillette apologises for the mistake.

Paulina Neuding is Quillette’s European editor. Follow her on Twitter @paulinaneuding. 

Feature photo by Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.


  1. Joana George says

    “Madness doesn’t need to be cured, It needs to be liberated!” It has come to this…

    • old geezer says

      if a culture is too stupid to survive, it won’t

      • David of Kirkland says

        Most bad cultures just suffer their people, not fail to survive.

      • Leah says

        Discipline is obviously lacking in Nordic homes where its been overtaken by democracy in the household

  2. Barney Doran says

    Jesus had it wrong. The meek aren’t going to inherit the earth; that honor is going to the insane.

      • Barney Doran says

        No, David, not her (she knows exactly what she’s doing) but rather her drooling adult audience.

        • Michael Godfrey says

          It is disingenuous, to say the least, for the author of this article to describe Greta’s mother as an opera singer. More relevantly, in the context of her daughter’s role as poster girl for the climate change movement, Malena Ernman is a veteran environmental warrior of considerable distinction (WWF Environmental Hero of the Year 2017).

          Greta has been carefully groomed by Al Gore among others, to attract and exploit the instant stardom heaped upon her by the a fawning mass media, gullible dewy-eyed politicians, cynical business leaders and – the ultimate accolade – the Pope.

          To her millions of admirers across the globe, she is simply a concerned member of the younger generation emperilled by climate change doing her humble best to save us all from the coming apocalypse. To a powerful elite seeking to revive the flagging fortunes of capitalism via new hi-tech industrial revolution she is manna from heaven..

          Wealthy technocrats are banking on Greta and her growing army of admirers to pressure governments into pouring public money (including from pension funds) into their so-called solutions to climate change. Unfortunately, these could easily turn out to be sticking plaster fixes likely to speed up, rather than slow down, global warming.

          Greta is a victim of child abuse.

      • markbul says

        By the description of her behavior, she certainly is insane. She is incapable of functioning without grovelling parental support. Left alone, she would die. She is delusional and disconnected from society. Other than that, she’s just fine.

        • Andrew C says

          That isn’t true. If you let a “normal” child get their way all the time conceding to their demands, letting them be in charge then they will take full advantage. Aspie kids are no different. From the description above it seems that these parents think that all behaviours should be accomodated.

          The result (autistic or not) are children that are used to getting whatever they want, demanding whatever they want and being able to kick up a stink / close down / vent anger if they do not get their way.

          From my experience, parenting an aspie kid is not that much different to parenting any kid.
          Just that there is a lot more to deal with. If my kid demanded pancakes and rice, then they would have been given an answer they didn’t like and they would not have reached 16 still insisting on this. My 2 eldest eat anything these days after trying this tactic in their earlier years (like all kids do) and my 8 year old is still in that battle at the moment.

          Aspergers is tough. Can be debilitating and be a very lonely existence sometimes however it does not help when parents can’t deal with things like this.

          The media representation doesn’t help. softly softly doesn’t mean pandering.

          Left alone she wouldn’t die. She would feed herself. A mass reserve of stubborness means they might hold out for ages longer than a normal kid but she would get herself some food eventually IF her parents refused to do it for her.

          And if she is delusional then you can only put the blame there on her parents for allowing this controlling behaviour to become the norm.

          • Mary says

            Except of course, that Anorexia is not the same as Aspergers – a different thing entirely, as are all eating disorders. These could indeed lead to starvation, or failing that – suicide, which is more common in adults that never successfully treated their illness.

        • Andy Espersen says

          “markbul” – she is neither insane nor delusional. Her opinions may be wrong (I think they are) – but, child or adult, she must be allowed the freedom to say what she wishes to say. And the rest of us must be allowed the freedom to listen to her and make our minds up about her and her opinions. There is a very clear and easily diagnosed line between sanity and insanity. You obviously do not know of that line.

          • Steve East says

            But we ALSO must be able to have our say … and not be shutdown! Do we have to find an autistic kid that we can indoctrinate to put on the stage to put another view as forcefully??? It’s the illness talking … and only the illness!

      • Gary says

        Mentally ill and requires all kinds of medical interventions.

  3. Cognominal says

    This seems very charitable. Probably this should read “how to indulge my Münchausen syndrome and transform my kids into narcissistic manipulators like me ?” This girl is no Simone Weill or Alexandra David Neel.

  4. Barney Doran says

    If patriarchy is the problem (of course), then this is a glaring example of it: Mr Thunberg failed spectacularly as a husband and a father.

    • Harbinger says

      …good point Barney. But in Sweden, any exhibition of masculinity in parenting, is likely to be a felony.

  5. Andrew J Montana says

    I never understood why we minimize people who demand the government more power over the daily life of its citizens. She is not bold for speaking truth to power, she is the mouth piece for power.

  6. the gardner says

    Jim Jones came to mind as I read this. Will this nut job kid amass thousands of people and drink the Koolaid to save the planet? Wouldn’t surprise me.

      • allthehardwayz says

        and more than a bit like a game of “Simon Says”, with the adults submitting to the bizarre demands of children.

    • Heike says

      Fun fact: Jim Jones was a socialist. He fervently believed in socialism and only adopted Christianity as a sneaky way of gaining more adherents. He led his followers into death when he found out the Russians weren’t going to airlift them away. That’s right, the Russians were in Jonestown giving language lessons and instruction in socialism.

      Even more fun fact: Jim Jones was awarded a medal by the city of San Francisco. No joke. He was also a great friend of Harvey Milk, the man who had a 16 year old boyfriend. He fixed elections for the Democrats because there were no voter ID laws.

      “We loaded up all 13 of our buses with maybe 70 people on each bus, and we had those buses rolling nonstop up and down the coast into San Francisco the day before the election,” recalled Jim Jones Jr. “We had people going from precinct to precinct to vote. So could we have been the force that tipped the election to Moscone? Absolutely! Slam dunk. He only won by 4,000 votes. I’m sorry, but I’ve got to give my father credit for that. I think he did the right thing. George Moscone was a good person; he wanted what was best for San Francisco.”

      • Jonny Five says

        Interesting fact: Jim Jones was also remarkable for his anti-racist views. That said, everything you relate is spot on. An abhorable individual and likely his elevated perspective on race relations is suspect, but even if the reasons where wrong he had the right idea for one important topic of his time.

        And so I wonder… What is the most charitable interpretation we can give Greta and similar minds? I am not about to jump on board with this alarmism but am eager find something, anything, to bridge the gap between equally vocal (but not necessarily principaled) perspectives.

  7. tinytotocracy says

    These kinds of child activists continually pop up. There was one a few years back who worked in climate activism. Pretty sure he was compared to Che as well. I can’t remember his name, but he was either a north or south american indian boy with long hair and around ten years old. His PR was real slick. Lots of professional photo shots and well spoken, but obviously coached. Then he disappeared from the news. I wish someone kept a big list of these child propaganda mouth pieces because they are like those NGOs that pop up before, and during the start of, wars then disappear from the news cycle, e.g. the syrian support group, the Nayirah testimony before the Gulf War, and various others (seems like a common propaganda play by the elites that is under analysed among commentators).

    What’s next on the horizon is changing the voting age, then eventually giving these kids political power. Imagine the political power the left will have when they say you can’t criticize children politicians, much like “you’re a white male” has become a critique of anyone arguing against certain activists, talking heads, and politicians. The NYT headlines will be: “Heartless critics pounce on 10 year old politician.” You know it is coming. Leftists will say that it is a slippery slope fallacy, but that fallacy is no longer a fallacy when it comes to what the left wing say and what they eventually do. We are beyond rational argument here and in the realm of the irrational. Truly a feminist ideal as well: a political system run by children (the cuter they are, the better. Bonus points for brown chocolate babies) that childless wine aunts with lots of cats slavishly obeying every command and form screeching social media hordes for anyone dare questioning first citizen boss baby. This is the telos of the nanny state lmao.

    • Cognominal says

      Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, the dirty town where a clean cathedral spontaneously combusts, is proposing the vote at 16.

  8. Clipping their collective ovaries and instituting a gagging order on this disgusting and dysfunctional family would be the minimum they deserve.

  9. Mario says

    A fine example of pedophrasty, where her arguments are given credence due to the fact she is a child and not anything else.

    What annoys me the most is that her advocacy is so vacuous and empty. The climate change issue is a serious one, and activists like this do a great disservice to the cause. Real, actual change is difficult, and asking government to come in and “do something” will only make things worse.

    • hunter says

      What makes the “climate change issue” serious is the same thing that leads people to allow a severely disturbed young girl to be manipulated like this, or that takes “Extinction Rebellion” as a serious source of ideas:
      In other words, the “climate crisis” is manufactured in the minds of believers, not in response to climate or weather changes.

  10. E. Olson says

    Interesting that yesterday we had an article about a Scandinavian state’s apparent concern for a child’s welfare, which is using social services to take said child away from a Muslim reformer critical of the extremist elements of her religion, as this criticism is in opposition to the official state policies towards that religion. Today we get a story about another Scandinavian state apparently supporting the parent’s decision to let their child skip school for weeks at a time in support of a cause also officially supported by the state. Furthermore, this internationally recognized model state of moral supremacy has no apparent concern for the welfare of this protesting child when her parent’s publicize her (and her younger sister’s) serious mental health issues in a best-selling book.

    Said child has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her global warming protest in a third Scandinavian country, which is one of the largest exporters of carbon-based fuels in the world, presumably because of the dangers global warming poses to peaceful living. Meanwhile radical elements of the Islam have recently killed several hundred Christian worshipers on Easter, and criticism of said Jihadists is presumably unlikely to lead to a Peace Prize nomination for the child losing woman.

    Are these the same Scandinavian countries that everyone on the Left wants to copy?

    • Castro Simplex says

      Of course they support the child skipping school. Given her litany of problems, the school must sigh with relief each day she skips.

      • E. Olson says

        Yes I imagine she is a joy in the classroom, probably insists on turning out the lights and heat to save the polar bears.

  11. The inmates are running the asylum, while all the sane people clap like seals. What timeline is this? Someone needs to get in that damn DeLorean and fix it.

  12. Stephen Phillips says

    it reminds me of that period between the late sixties and the mid seventies when children were supposed to lead us to reason and Shangri La.
    John Denver wrote a mawkish song about how we had to listen to the children and all would be well.
    I was 16 and could smell the bullshit.
    It makes me bilious whenever I hear it now.
    Children DO NOT know what is right or wrong and they are NOT little innocents.

    • TarsTarkas says

      Children start out as animals. Civilizing them is the job of parents. What we are seeing is the adoption of Rousseau’s ‘noble savage’ idiocy by an ever-growing avalanche of touch-feely-don’t-criticize the martinalized people, that human beings are inherently good, and that civilization is what makes people bad. Lord of the Flies IMO was a pretty accurate description of what can happen when children are given complete authority.

  13. I heard her speak this morning and she sounded both childishly naive and suffering from extreme and unreasonable anxiety. In this she seem similar to the current extinction rebellion protestors who each time I have heard them speak claim that if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions it will cause the end of all life on earth. I struggle to listen beyond this preposterous statement and in both cases wondered if the person concerned was mentally ill.
    Given I believe in AGW and measures to reduce energy consumption and CO2 production that shows quite how bad an impression they convey.

    In the case of Greta Thunberg she is clearly being exploited by her parents and others to her own detriment. Both children may have genuine mental health problems but pandering to and celebrating her unreasonable anxiety and propensity to self harm is not in her interest.

    • Mickey says

      Those of us who are old enough to remember the fear we had of a nuclear holocaust in the 1960s. Air raid drills and sirens and school drills and duck and cover we’re all frightening to me as a 10-year-old. Today it’s climate alarmism. They are convincing children they are all going to die in eight or nine or 12 years, or whatever. If it wasn’t so serious and damaging it would be silly and funny.

      • Lightning Rose says

        Yep, the Bomb was going to get us all. But those who ducked and covered at 5 or 10 were cynics by 25, and laughing by 40! It’s just the Book of Revelation, recycled over and over for each succeeding age. Human minds seem to ~need~ this for some reason; maybe to feel WE are in control, not the Universe.

        Meantime, the Universe spins–and laughs!

      • Jon Burack says

        Actually, I loved those bomb drills. I got to go down into our school’s basement and sidle up to a girl I had a crush on. I do not recall many kids having any more serious idea what it was all about than I did. We were right not to. This child has profound disorders that everyone around her is exploiting. Her parents and fans all over Europe are using her and abusing her. She deserves a childhood such as the one I recall from the far less insane days of the 1950s early Cold War.

      • I also seem to recall that neither I nor any of my elementary school peers were perpetually traumatized by what was then a genuine threat. Perhaps we didn’t fully understand the implications, but that was because the adults around us shielded us from adult anxieties, understanding that the complexities of real life were not yet within our intellectual grasp. They were more concerned with teachiing us how to be human and let us be children instead of props for their virtue signaling.

      • Cary D Cotterman says

        I remember when this sort of foolishness was laughed at as “silly and funny”, and now the fools are in charge. It’s not funny anymore.

  14. Northern Observer. says

    Raise the voting age in the west to 25. Better yet institute a marriage requirement.

    • TarsTarkas says

      I remember Heinlein in one of his SF novels (Starship Trooperss) had a society where only military veterans could vote.

      • SOKRATES77 says

        The reason for woman not being allowed to vote in Switzerland since 1971 was that only those who had served military service were allowed to vote at all. So that idea is not some kind of science fiction.

    • M Steck says

      Great idea. That would eliminate many uninformed, selfish, dependent people who are still living in their mothers basement from deciding the fate of people who pay the bills.

    • Valjean says

      Why not both? Throw in a property requirement too while you’re at it. And no, I’m not kidding.

      I truly hope to live long enough to see “democracy” (beyond its obvious function within a republic) returned to its pernicious origins. Not exactly holding my breath, though.

  15. peterschaeffer says

    As always, Paulina Neuding is to be commended for her outstanding reporting. Yes, the mental state of the parents and the children is a real question in this case (sad to say).

    However, the facts of the issue are also a problem. China accounts for twice as much CO2 as the U.S. and 214 times as much CO2 as Sweden. If she really cared, she would take her story to Beijing. Of course, in China her story might not go over so well.

    Sweden’s per-capita emissions are relatively low (5.1 tons) for a prosperous nation. However, Sweden has achieved these numbers by despoiling its rivers and building nuclear power plants.

    • @peterschaeffer
      “Sweden’s per-capita emissions are relatively low (5.1 tons) for a prosperous nation. However, Sweden has achieved these numbers by despoiling its rivers and building nuclear power plants.”
      What is wrong with building hydroelectric power stations and nuclear power plants? If people were serious about climate change then they would certainly be pushing for nuclear power as by far the least impact method of reliably generating power.
      Hydro-electric power necessarily has some environmental impact but this is a one time cost and over time is low.

      From a safety perspective nuclear energy is by far the safest and although hydroelectric power is far more dangerous the risks can be controlled with sensible engineering.

      Depsite this environmentalist campaign against both which tells you that their true interest is not the environment but anti-technology.

      A darkly amusing fact is that nuclear energy is widely considered the most dangerous form of energy generation despite being statistically the safest. It is also considered as having the worst potential for catastrophic accidents despite the fact that the death toll for every nuclear power accident added together, including a catastrophic failure is less than 0.05% of the death toll of a single hydroelectric accident in 1975.

      • peterschaeffer says

        AJ, I am very pro-hydro and by no means an anti-nuclear activist. However, the folks who complain the most about AGW tend to be opposed to both.

        • Closed Range says


          “AJ, I am very pro-hydro and by no means an anti-nuclear activist. However, the folks who complain the most about AGW tend to be opposed to both.”

          You are right. It is indeed the tragedy that so many climate activists are the most adamantly opposed to the best solution available, namely nuclear. It was a tragedy when Germany closed its nuclear plants as a result of Fukushima, and replaced that with extra coal and gas production, which if I recall correctly was something the Green’s pushed the most for. The problem is that people who are climate activists are largely driven by emotions, which doesn’t mix well with the combined economics, physics and engineering challenge that is climate change.

          For anyone who wants to be serious about the matter, I recommend David MacKay’s book Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air

    • Lightning Rose says

      If ANYBODY really cared about giving more than virtue-signaling lip service to this model Armageddon, the entire West would long since have enacted draconian sanctions on China, incentivizing the building of nuclear power plants instead of fossil-fuel-fired since 1990 or so. Ditto for India, the US, all of Europe. We’d be over there building them for the entire developing world as fast as possible. THAT is about the only thing that would be capable of materially, demonstrably lowering CO2. Which, BTW, is a colorless, odorless trace gas that makes plant photosynthesis and therefore all life on earth possible.

      If this trace gas making up 1 molecule in 10,000 in our atmosphere (concentrations of which have varied wildly throughout geologic history while not affecting temperature, LONG before humans were a factor) were truly an “existential threat,” you would stand in a long permitting line and need a good reason to buy an air ticket, in fact most civil air would be discontinued; commuting would be by Skype with heavy tax relief for companies that mandate telecommuting; fuels and emissions would be strictly rationed with heavy fines, and NO ONE would be building half-billion-dollar hotels, condos and mansions right down to the high-tide mark in our coastal cities. We’d be incentivizing population migrations inland, and also demanding zero population growth and a frugal, needs-only hard end to consumer culture.

      See any of that happening? Nah. Me neither! Just a perpetual-bullshit-machine. 5th Horseman, riding a donkey backwards.

      • David Barnett says

        I’m glad to see that someone here actually recognizes that CO2 is not a threat. In fact our current levels are the second lowest in geologic history. (And the levels have been trending down for hundreds of millions of years.) It’s been as much as 20 times as high, although that was an extreme and 4-5 times as high is more typical,and the flora and fauna of those times were huge. CO2 is plant food. Conveniently overlooked is that the most potent greenhouse gas is water vapor.

    • EventHorizon says

      “Sweden’s per-capita emissions are relatively low (5.1 tons) for a prosperous nation.”

      Of course they are. All the goods consumed in the West are made in China. If we weren’t hypocrites, we would calculate each country’s CO2 emission per goods consumed, not just what’s produced internally.

      • peterschaeffer says

        EH, This point has actually been studied in some detail. See “Mapped: The world’s largest CO2 importers and exporters”. Predictably, Sweden is a large carbon importer. Sweden’s carbon imports are equal to 67% of Sweden’s domestic CO2 emissions.

  16. Charles Woolf says

    Good article, thank you.

    One point I’d like to take up:

    “I do not wish to suggest that 16 year olds are necessarily too young to understand the consequences of their actions, nor that the challenges Thunberg faces make her unsuitable to take a stand on political issues, or even to lead a global movement. No one who has heard her address world leaders in impeccable English can doubt that she is intelligent and extraordinarily capable on some level.”

    This seems very charitable me. Although 16 year olds may understand the consequences of some of their actions, speak several languages, and be brilliant, they are far too young to understand the complexity of politics and are entirely unsuited to lead a global movement, especially one as labyrinthine as climate change.

    It is touching and promising that the (very) young show interest, but from there to make them into our leaders there is a long stretch.

    Granting such authority onto the young is a way to retrospectively project our infantile omnipotence onto them and then vicariously live the triumphant power that we wish we had had through them. The frustration of having once been powerless, incompetent and unqualified often leads to grandiose compensatory fantasies of being the contrary.

    I’d submit that this difficulty in recognizing the difference between generations, and the legitimate distinctions in authority it entails, is endemic to our times. See the latest installments of Game of Thrones where children (no doubt to fulfill some politically correct quota) are placed in ludicrously implausible positions of power.

    • BrainFireBob says

      In fairness to Martin, there was supposed to be a five-year gap in his plot originally. That’s why his characters are all in their early teens. They were supposed to be around 20 at the conclusion of the series.

      He found it narratively didn’t work, and the show runners essentially copied how it had been initially in the books. In fairness, they probably should have up-aged the characters.

    • V 2.0 says

      The children in Game of Thrones are thrust into these positions because there are no other options and try to rise to the occasion. They would also have lived through things a coddled teen (or even an adult) in Sweden could not even imagine providing them with at least a little experience.

      But yeah…as a teenager raised in North America I cringe at some of the things I thought were incontrovertible truths. Good thing no one put me in charge of Bear Island 😀

      • allthehardwayz says

        V 2.0 – Not the one in Temagami by any chance?

  17. S Snell says

    it is beyond weird that this deeply dysfunctional person, a mere child, is regarded as the voice of inerrant truth, is depicted in heroic terms, and is advising world leaders.

    This is pretty much all you need to know about he climate-intervention movement.

    • Cary D Cotterman says

      “it is beyond weird that this deeply dysfunctional person, a mere child, is regarded as the voice of inerrant truth, is depicted in heroic terms, and is advising world leaders.”

      It’s the same weirdness that motivates those who brag “we believe in science” to worship their guru of science, Al Gore, in spite of the fact that he failed his science classes in college.

  18. gda53 says

    Comments say it all.

    “this deeply dysfunctional person, a mere child, is regarded as the voice of inerrant truth, is depicted in heroic terms, and is advising world leaders.”

    Truly we are doomed…..until and unless we commit this crazed and dead-end ideology of one-upmanship victimhood, intersectionality and identity politics to the garbage heap where it belongs.

  19. cfkane1941 says

    The underlying, and usually unstated, foundation of the climate change activists’ argument is overpopulation. Too many people using too many resources to live too long a life. They generally elide the consequences of their policy demands: shorter, less comfortable lives for people, primarily those who have been struggling (and succeeding) with lifting themselves out of extreme poverty, and, ultimately fewer people.

    Consequently, Greta Thunberg should be asked a single question, to spell out for her what she is advocating or to compel her to acknowledge publicly her desire for the human race:

    How many people need to die?

    She’s protected because she’s a child, because she has mental health issues, because she has Asperger’s. I think the millions of children around the world who would inevitably be affected by her demands should be allowed to respond, and that question is their response.

    It’s dramatic, but Thunberg has been allowed to be dramatic. Her arguments are all emotion. She should confront other childrens’ emotional arguments, i.e., they want to live.

    And once that emotional sideshow is over, perhaps the adults can get together and talk about compromises and trade-offs.

    • the gardner says

      Not, “How many people need to die”, rather, “How many will join me in throwing myself off this cliff to save mother Gaia”.

      Let’s see how her ardent followers react to that.

  20. Craig Willms says

    I never discount simple childhood wisdom. Sometimes they see things more clearly precisely because they are not mentally embattled on multiple fronts. However, the key word is simple! The so-called climate change issue is anything but simple. Just the climate science alone is complex beyond belief, then add the human societal element. It is so far beyond a child’s capacity that it renders this child little more than a puppet.

  21. Jean Levant says

    Reasonable and interesting article. It’s common sense but it is worth to be said in the general frenzy.

  22. Lou says

    The author and those who have left comments seem to know nothing about autism spectrum disorder level 1 (Asperger Syndrome) and its comorbidities. So you think if you’re not neurotypical you shouldn’t be taken seriously or shown respect?

    • Kevin Herman says

      I guess it depends on what you mean by respect and being taken seriously? I would never treat this girl rudely on a personal interaction level. However I feel like the AGW activism (hysterical finger pointing world is over tommorrow variety with unrealistic soluations) she pratices is an overall giant negative to the world so no I do not respect it or take it seriously. She could be totally witout any mental issues like Bindi Irwin I still wouldnt take what she has to say about the environment seriously because she is flat out ignorant and mostly wrong.

    • Andrew C says

      No I am an Aspie also with ADHD.

      What the author is saying is that if you are in the public sphere like this you shouldn;t get a free ride with no scrutiny just because you have these disabilities.

      What we have here is a figurehead that is unapproachable with anything but agreement or praise with any questioning being immediately taken as bullying or people picking on someone who should not be picked on.

      The symptoms her sister has. The controlling nature of how her mother “has to” behave. Do you think the mother should just play along with this? Or should her mother not play along?

      My 2 Aspie and ADHD boys (and undiagnosed girl) have all tried these things. Just like “neuro” kids if you play along they will play you. If you don’t play along you get through (albeit much harder than neuros and tantrums.)

      This is the problem in the modern world. We have experts telling us that ASD = X. That Aspergers = Y. That ADHD = Z. The reality is that they are working off virtual (but scientific) stereotypes to which the media and the “right on” politicos go by.

      My kids need to learn its a tough world and they won;t get special treatment. Their parents aren’t well to do actors or musicians that can provide a cushioned life so they need to learn to deal with the real world not hide behind a defence of “autism” or “mental disorders.”

      I am there to help them through it. Someone who has experienced what they are experiencing. I am not there for them to abuse or control. I am a sympathetic ear, a life guide, a moral guide with of course a vested interest in their futures. I’m not there to tell them to play the sympathy card forever.

      This is the difference here. You have drawn a line that the author is saying only “normal” folks can be taken seriously when the author said nothing of the sort. The author has merely (and I would suggest over sympathetically) drawn attention to the problems that Greta (and her sister and family) deal with. How those problems are dealt with and then spoken about how (because of her disability) that she is free to say whatever she wants with an army of defenders that link any scrutiny to being the result of insensitive souls that are going after an easy target.

      She is 16. Many countries want the vote for 16 year olds. The UK does yet here we are “She’s only 16 you bully.” She is old enough to be a figurehead. She is obviously intelligent. She should therefore be old enough and wise enough to be questioned about what she says and not have a free pass.

      I should add that even you are seemingly deciding Aspergers = X. Not all Aspies have comorbidities. Even within Aspie communities there are mass differences. One of my Sons can’t stop talking (too much), loves strangers, the other is not very good at all at conversation other than being defensive, arguing, aggressive. Me personally? I love the internet because I can now speak instead of being scared to fluff the lines words and feel embarrassed. Greta – Speaks very well to lots of strangers. Looks shy like me but then I guess its like when I force myself to do Karaoke (because I enjoy Karaoke) despite feeling a right wierdo awkard statuesque chap when it’s my go.

    • Good grief, it’s right there in the text, Lou.

      “I do not wish to suggest that 16 year olds are necessarily too young to understand the consequences of their actions, nor that the challenges Thunberg faces make her unsuitable to take a stand on political issues, or even to lead a global movement. No one who has heard her address world leaders in impeccable English can doubt that she is intelligent and extraordinarily capable on some level.”

    • hunter says

      I think a child who cannot be held accountable as an adult, who is parroting apocalyptic claptrap, and who has displayed highly unstable behaviors should at least be taken with a grain of salt.
      Do you take orders from children?

  23. Lightning Rose says

    Nowhere does this article mention the fact that both her parents are notoriously barmy “activists”
    of many years’ standing with a slew of “issues” of their own. Not only are her parents using this poor creature as a tool for their agenda, but any Davos-types who use her are guilty of out-and-out child abuse and should be ashamed.

    Of COURSE emotionally disturbed children, journalism and drama majors, hippies, actors and has-been musicians are EXACTLY whom Sensible People follow for accurate scientific information in historical context. /sarc.

    P.S.: When you start mixing AGW with “social justice,” “patriarchy,” etc. you make it plain this is not an environmental issue, unless you’re talking about Environ-Mentalism the religion.

  24. Corsair says

    She sounds like a kind of Swedish Nongqawuse.

  25. Kevin Herman says

    ” Her mother stresses that her daughter has never felt better than during her campaign to address the existential challenge posed by our changing climate”

    The energizing element in her life could have easily been something else like working with animals or the arts or the handicapped or other people with autism or any one of another 1,000,000 things instead of obsessing over so called catastrophic global warming. Nobody knows who this little girl is in the United States for the most part. Here’s hoping it stays that way. I feel sorry for her but not only because of her mental illness.

    • Stephanie says

      Kevin, yes, and this bodes poorly for when this shiny new thing is dropped by the media in favour of the next thing. Greta might be able to extend her 15 minutes by going trans or lesbian, but there will inevitably be a younger, more disabled, and darker-skinned young girl/non-binary that will scratch the media’s itch better.

      Someone like Malala was able to capitalize on her 15 minutes by escaping her shithole country and getting into a great university, but Greta came from an extremely privileged background, so there’s nowhere but downhill for her. She doesn’t seem emotionally equipped to handle the fall from relevance.

      • Ray Andrews says


        She could get an extra 15 by transitioning to dolphin like myself and joining me in the pool. Dolphins, if it even needs to be said, have zero carbon footprint, we make no plastic, and we live in harmony with nature. We have no Patriarchy and some of us are gay, which all of us celebrate. To be honest, the trans-species could use a famous poster-girl to leverage our exposure and catapult us to the very top of the Victierarchy where we belong.

        • Closed Range says

          @ Ray

          Sadly, it has been documented in the scientific literature that dolphins sometimes rape one another (actually true). Obviously, this is symptomatic of how dolphins which have been exposed to toxic masculinity coming from white men, and therefore it would probably be safest if all dolphins are exterminated and recycled as soy bean fertiliser. Like this there won’t be any more dolphin rapists. One could then go one step further, and stop the meat industry which is destroying our planet by simply killing all animals. Then all those nasty meat eaters will be forced to go vegan. See, two birds, one stone!

  26. Leonella says

    Weaponized children. Pol Pot and Mao would be proud.

    When I see all these kids out on strike protesting, They are demonstrating that they never need to go back into that school building again. The purpose of their schooling is complete; to make them into minimally intelligent, unquestioning, obedient mind controlled slaves.


    This article is an unfortunate ad hominem attack on the messagers, not the message.

    • Andrew C says

      This article is merely (too sensitively and sympathetically) drawing attention to the fact that an Aspie with other problems to boot is being used as a figurehead and pushed to celebrity because she is unreproacheable.

      The message cannot be attacked because she is saying it and you cannot attack her because she is “only 16” and has disabilities.

      I have sympathy for her and her sisters disorders as I have experience (self and children) of the same diabilities (with differing effects for each of us) but all I get from this article is that her parents pander to the whims of the girls assuming that everything is due to autism, when in reality autistic children know how to play the game as well and a lot of these whims (assumed as autism) may well just be a kid taking advantage of the power they are being allowed to exert.

      It doesn’t actually say (just implies) whether or not her mother always plays along with the 10 minute walk taking an hour, the demand that she must wait outside and not move. If she does then more fool her. All 3 of mine have done this sort of thing, many times on many different aspects of daily life and they have reasonably quickly (after momentus 1-4 hour aggressive or stubborn breakdowns) that it is not going to work.

      This is what I get from the article. That the parents give the kids a free ride without questioning anything. That the parents are also activists. That no-one ever even dares suggest that Autistic kids are very easy to influence and I have learned pretty quickly to watch what I say about things in front of my kids.

      The article just lays out the story and asks the reader to make their own conclusion. Are the parents pushing the kid? Are they unconciously driving the kid’s mission through what they say to each other while the child is within earshot? I daresay now she is surrounded with like minded people she is going to have her beliefs confirmed in her mind even more.

      I don’t question the basis of what she talks about. I am quite a greenie myself but the whole narrative of “a few years left” and “we must change everything this minute” just is not workable, not based on actual facts and screams to me of someone(s) using her (and I don’t mean specifically the parents because the world has now got their claws in) to push their political narrative.

    • What’s unfortunate about asserting adult responsibility when it doesn’t please children, as it so often doesn’t? I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the author is no climate change denier and thus the message (which does offer something to critique) is of lesser concern here.

    • BIG THINK says

      If the left’s message is so powerful and stands on its own merits, why do they have to use a kid as the deliverer and call everyone who disagrees morons?

    • Closed Range says

      Actually, it is not – it is a sensible criticism of all the cynical do-gooder adults who are using a child as a media icon to improve their images, and it is a criticism of much of the media’s pathetic fawning over her, like the Guardian.

    • hunter says

      Her message is derivative anti-scientific bs.
      She is being manipulated/enabled into ridiculous positions.
      Only a deeply incapable adult would look to 16 year old for serious advice.

  28. Bizarre! A Young Adult Dystopian story stranger than fiction.
    Here in Ireland, the so-called ‘strike’ was organised by the schools!
    But comparisons with the mass-murderer Che Guevara are a ghastly insult to Thunberg.

  29. Jane Forsyth says

    This child is so obviously malnourished. Does no one understand the connection between nutrition and mental health? When you feed a child a diet of carbs only—no protein—you can only expect that she will become neurologically impaired. This is the true problem. It applies to her sister as well. This is child abuse. Where are all the sane adults who understand the impact of poor nutrition on mental health? Perhaps the issue of the world food system should be the real discussion. Nourishing the developed world is the only answer.

    • Cary D Cotterman says

      She looks chubby. The result of pancakes and rice, with no meat.

  30. And the children shall lead… wasn’t that a Star Trek episode with creepy evil kids? I guess we’re the grumps now. But this time the child leader is a retard to boot. Bonus!

    • S Snell says

      Not to quibble, but I think the term was “grups” (short for grownups) not “grumps.”

      One of the better episodes, even with the logical flaws.

      • TarsTarkas says

        The term ‘Grups’ came from the episode ‘Miri’ from Season One featuring virtually immortal children who died once they entered puberty (all adults had died centuries earlier). ‘And the Children shall lead, featuring trial lawyer Melvin Belli as the evil controlling spirit, from Season Three, is the more appropriate episode for this situation.

  31. Reading this, I was reminded that There are documented cases of the Terrorist sects using children who are developmentally disabled children etc. as suicide bombers……..

    • Andrew C says

      “But think of the children” is one of the oldest tactics in the book. This is a newer version where “the children” are used to deliver the message and not the “concerned adults”…………….or is it?

  32. John Lammi PhD, psychologist says

    In the first place, the Climate Models have all simply failed in their “scenarios” (they stopped making predictions). The rate of increase in sea level has not changed, and temperature went Down as CO2 went up! Where is the crisis? There is only the crisis of mass hysteria and the 100’s of billions invested in the Carbon Credit business; check out the big banks’ portfolios.

  33. Gurahl says

    “she was eventually diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, high-functioning autism, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She also suffers from selective mutism, a disorder related to severe anxiety which can render her unable to speak to anyone outside her closest family.”

    There you have it. A DARLING for the media. Criticise her and you, by association, criticise people with autism, or OCD, or anxiety, or whatever.

    • Andrew C says

      As we are seeing as anyone who dares say anything is attacked as being a bully….

      …… it is left to us fellow Aspies to have to do the questioning………..Ahh but “she’s only 16” will be the next one so it will have to be one of my kids doing it then.

    • Andrew C says

      The weird thing in that whole list is that I would suggest that many are actually symptoms or part of the one.

      Aspergers IS a “high functioning autism.” Aspie symptoms can include selective mutism because autism nearly always has some form of high anxiety whether it be intense or background from triggers etc. OCD is something else however it might not be a full on OCD and more a relative OCD comparative………..just as many Aspies have as part of their symptoms.

      It sounds a lot to me like someone is trying to make out she has multiple different problems when the reality is they are listing the problems that she in particular has because of her autism. One disorder, different people have different varieties of symptoms. She has these symptoms. They are not all separate things.

      At least that’s how it looks to my Aspie mind………and how I would describe some of my personal traits of autism.

  34. Bootstamp says

    Gah! I love Quillette, but this article is mostly about making Greta seem like a freak. I hadn’t heard of her before this, has the actual content of her proposals been elided here because it has already been addressed elsewhere? I’d appreciate some links, if so.

    I was initially made a bit uncomfortable by what sounded like ad hominem, but I suppose it should be okay to take into account someone’s mental illnesses in deciding whether to listen to them. In this case, I don’t think it is very relevant except how this might harm the child herself, but presumably that is her and her family’s business. Especially, since now her arguments are already out there and you can judge them by their own merit. Anyway, as Lou pointed out earlier in the comments, she might be less mentally ill and more just neuroatypical.

    • Andrew C says

      The article is listing the mental illness’ not to discredit Greta but because anyone that questions what she says or the possibility that she is being manipulated here is faced with a barrage of abuse because her disabilities are used as a protective shield by those who support her.

      If anything the list (that undoubtedly Quillette have been provided with by the family or the PR team) sounds to me like autism……….and not multiple different disabilities. It looks like a list of the autistic traits she personally has to deal with. OCD, anxiety, mutism etc. These are some aof the traits that high functioning autists may (or may not) experience. meltdowns aren’t always banshee out of control aggressive attacks. They can be closing down and withdrawal.

      I have one child that has done each version. I personally did the latter. Much better to be solitary, get your head down into an obsession, and make sure everything is in the right place all the time and done the way you like it.

    • Her shelf life might be limited, her media savvy parents have trained her well, but as she gets a bit older, she might not be as cute….

      • Andrew C says

        I doubt she would be very well at all if she has succeeded in her demands for pancakes filled with rice for her first 16 years. no wonder she looks like a 12 year old.

      • S Snell says

        This girl is anything but cute. At the tender age of 16 she is already a pinch-faced, finger-waggling scold.

    • Stephanie says

      Bootstrap, Quillette has put out an article about Greta already: you can Google it as well as I can. As I recall it didn’t go into any detail about her mental state, only mentioning her autism in passing, and focused on whether it was appropriate for children to lead movements on issues they don’t understand.

      Calling this ad hominem implies that autism, OCD, and other mental health issues are insults. They are not. They are the fact of life for this girl, and considering what seems to be some pretty severe dysfunction I think it is fully appropriate to understand the context of this girl’s activism.

      Honestly, it looks like her mother is behind all of this. Plastering her face across the entire book cover is a hint that this is motivated predominantly by the narcissism of an aging celebrity, and the extremely young age Greta got into activism can only be interpreted as parrotting what she was taught by her parents and school.

  35. Sydney says

    I’m surprised Tides foundation or some other billionaire-backed, far-left globalist fund hasn’t yet set up a world tour by the star trio of Greta Thunberg, Ahed Tamimi, and Alexandra Ocasio Cortez. Teen SJWs would be screaming hysterically in venues everywhere.

    I envision seas of red lipstick, copycat hairdos, and dilated pupils wherever they go. Why hasn’t this been organized? Ultra-left ‘Teen Vogue’ keyboard warriors must be napping after their mid-morning smoothies.

    You heard it here first…

    • Andrew C says

      You are way behind the curve on that one. She already has Luisa Neubauer in tow and she is the “bright young” face of ONE which of course is supported by all the usual “philanthropists” and ageing Irish rock singers.

      • Sean Leith says

        I don’t care whether you are politically left or right. You have to based your argument on facts. The left never care about facts, whatever is in their favor. Two typical examples: Al Gore, Obama.

        • Andrew C says

          I won’t argue with that in the least. There is more to play than “our fate” with this push. As always the big money has eyes on a profit prize and “the people” are being used as pawns to fight the war.

        • Amin says

          Sean Leith

          “The left never care about facts, whatever is in their favor. Two typical examples: Al Gore, Obama.”

          This is just plain dumb. Here:

          “The right never care about facts, whatever is in their favor. Two typical examples: Trump, Mitt Romney.”

          • Stephanie says

            Trump’s economy is doing fantastic, so clearly his facts are correct – and much more important than the trivial things the left nitpicks.

          • Amin says

            @ Stephanie

            “Trump’s economy is doing fantastic, so clearly his facts are correct”

            And what did that have to do with him? What changes he brought that changed things? And you have to demonstrate the economy was doing badly and it is doing better directly due to Trump.

            Yeah… and you are not going to respond. You never do… becuase you have got the foggiest as to what you are on about.

            But what does that have to do with his caring about facts? Which “facts”? As per… mumbo jumbo answer which has no relevance to what was asked but is pretence that you have answered.

            I can hammer away such stupidities all day long…

          • Stephanie says

            Congratulations on a full thought, Amin, much better than the usual “no u” we get from you.

            Obama presided over the weakest recovery in American history, and all but gave up on full employment. Trump lowered taxes and cut regulations that hampered growth. Obama said that the days of 3% growth were over, but these obvious (to conservatives) measures achieved it soon after Trump took office.

          • Amin says

            @ Stephanie

            “Congratulations on a full thought, Amin, much better than the usual “no u” we get from you.”

            You mean you don’t like your complete garbage being challenged. No one else does and I put you in your place.. .expose lies by you and your ilk.

            “Obama presided over the weakest recovery in American history, and all but gave up on full employment. Trump lowered taxes and cut regulations that hampered growth. Obama said that the days of 3% growth were over, but these obvious (to conservatives) measures achieved it soon after Trump took office.”

            And here we go… more utter shite. You haven’t got the foggiest as to what you were going on about. What did I ask? Where are the references? The evidence? Just opinions… that go nowhere.

            You are as per sual full of shit. And on top of that you are quite a nasty little person.


  36. Andrew C says

    From the article:
    “diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, high-functioning autism, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She also suffers from selective mutism, a disorder related to severe anxiety which can render her unable to speak to anyone outside her closest family. When she wants to tell a climate researcher that she is planning a school strike to save the environment, she speaks through her father.”

    The way this is presented is as if these are all separate disabilities. To me as an Aspie myself I would look at this list and come to the conclusion that these are just traits (symptoms) of autism and thus one disability/condition.

    Aspies can be OCD, Aspies can (nearly always to some extent) suffer from anxiety. Anxiety attacks can lead to selective mutism OR aggressive out of control breakdowns. Aspies ARE high functioning autistics.

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  38. Amin says

    “enthusiastic endorsement offered by experienced diplomates like Madeleine Albright”

    Lovely mistake to make 🙂

  39. Not really child abuse, her media savvy family have trained her well. No different than other child actors. Much like another climate actor, Leo DiCaprio, he know’s his lines, says them well, but he still likes his 485 foot yacht. Who can argue that celebrities dont influence you, product endorsements works..

    • Angus Black says

      I think she has been brainwashed – I think she believes the stuff she spouts. That’s child abuse IMHO.

  40. Angus Black says

    Goodness, it’s all very Joan of Arc, isn’t it.

    Greta is just an example, of course – our brainwashing (“education”) sector is probably the worst example, though it’s a pretty tough league!. In the future, if civilisation recovers, people will look back on our times and wonder how we, so quickly, normalised, embraced and then feted generation-wide child abuse.

    As a child, I was fascinated by the classical world and I used, particularly, to read about what caused the collapse of the Roman Empire. You may remember the theories about the citizens being driven mad through lead water pipes… One need only look at what is occurring in Western Civilisation today, however, to see that you don’t really need to stretch too far for explanations – it seems that societal insanity is ever within arm’s reach.

  41. Petrus says

    Children are the best ideologues. Everything to teach, nothing to unlearn, and their naive optimism has not yet been crushed by reality. All knowledge, zero wisdom.

  42. Stephanie says

    When I read the first article about Greta on Quillette, she reminded me very much of myself at that age. Militantly idealistic and uncompromising in the demand for immediate and extreme action on climate change. I pitied her because if I had similarly been used as a puppet, I would have found myself pigeon-holed, and it would have been much harder to develop more nuanced views and walk back my alarmism. Making public the half-baked views of young people does them a great disservice, halting their intellectual development with the weight of the world’s expectations.

    This article made me aware how severely dysfunctional Greta is, and indeed how twisted her family is. The mother’s narcissism seems to be the prime motivator here, with her using the mental health issues of her children for money and media attention. The way the cover of her book consists only of a close up of her own face is telling. This isn’t about Greta, it never was. This is about an aging celebrity who knows what gets the media off, and saw an opportunity to become relevant. Of course the mother will cave to the pancake diet: it allows her to brand her troubled daughter as “vegan.” It seems likely now that Greta’s refusal to fly has more to do with anxiety than climate change.

    It is disgusting how many people of prominence are going along with this child abuse. But I suppose these are the same people who applaud the parents of a prepubescent boy who performs sexual displays for old men for money, so perhaps we should be grateful Greta isn’t literally being pimped out yet.

    • Amin says

      “It is disgusting how many people of prominence are going along with this child abuse. But I suppose these are the same people who applaud the parents of a prepubescent boy who performs sexual displays for old men for money, so perhaps we should be grateful Greta isn’t literally being pimped out yet.”

      Your usual vileness. You are quite vile and dark… you have a murderous rage within you.

      • lol says

        “you have a murderous rage within you”

        Seems like you are projecting. Just how many Europeans do you want to behead Amin? Be honest.

        • Amin says

          @ lol

          “Seems like you are projecting. Just how many Europeans do you want to behead Amin? Be honest.”

          The whole lot… every single one.

      • Stephanie says

        Aww, Amin, you were doing so well staying relevant! Why did you have to ruin it with schoolyard insults?

        • Amin says

          @ Stephanie

          They are not school yard insults. And you are quite vile individual. I say it as I see it. And by now we both know why I say just about you….

          So how many more names are you going invent too?

  43. “adults have a moral obligation to remain adults when dealing with children in the public square and not to allow themselves to get carried away by the trite sentimentality of messianic or revolutionary dreams”
    Yeah, like the elders listening to young Jesus in the Temple.
    This article gives it bias away when describing as “implausible” the implied connection between patriarchal social & administrative structures, indeed structures of thought, that disable our ‘leaders’ from responding in a timely manner to both evident need for change, & to the present fact of change.
    I wonder what motivates conservatives, usually older men in suits, sometimes similarly upholstered women, to stand forlornly before the tide.
    You & I will be gone. These young ones will inherit & run the world ruin. What we think, our diagnoses, are already irrelevant.

  44. Max Blancke says

    I wish you had gone into more detail about the money involved here.
    Her organization,, is a for profit enterprise. It is led by an “investment relations” consultant.
    The book referred to in the article was also not written as a charitable act.

    These people are among the many out there working a scheme to monetize the climate issue. And using a particularly fragile child as a front for the company is a pretty cynical move.

  45. Emily Greghert says

    What an … interesting … face that child has. Have the doctors done a genetic rundown on her?

  46. GMV says

    It would be interesting to know way family Thunberg believes there are “…“patriarchal structures” that … favour boys with neuropsychiatric disorders.” Is it simply because there are more boys in institutions for children with such disorders than girls? (Are there?) And if there are, is this just another example of the “greater male variability” idea – except this time looking at the more dysfunctional end of the spectrum?

    • I suspect more than greater male variability is at play but also differences between typical male and female mental characetristics.

      In any case what is amusing is teh way any difference is always portrayed as a female disadvantage.
      More boys instituitionalised with mental disorders – The instituitional system favours boys.
      If it were girls that wer ethe majority it would be – Society discriminates girls causing girsl to suffer from mental disorders.

      The most extreme example of this is the idea that women are discriminated against because prisons are designed for men!

  47. Fickle Pickle says

    Jiddu Krishnamurti – “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”.

    Paul Goodman published a book in 1962 titled Growing Up Absurd. The situation in Amerika is now far more pathologically absurd by many degrees.

    Came across a new essay by the truth-telling author John Whitehead titled The Essence of Evil Sex With Children Has Become Big Business In America.

    Beginning with his 1977 book Magical Child Joseph Chilton-Pearce spent the rest of his life examining and explaining why/how our US “culture” (in particular) specializes in creating profoundly crippled human beings. His superb book Evolution’s End features a child en-tranced and thereby being brain-washed by a TV set.

    This more-than-wonderful website features his work It also features the disturbing (and hopeful) research of James Prescott, Michel Odent and Keith Buzzell M.D.

    Joseph’s 2012 book titled The Heart-Mind Matrix : How the Heart Can Teach the Mind New Ways to Think features 27 summary points of Michel Odent’s work.
    He also briefly points to the 1998 book Children of Cyclops by Keith Bussell

  48. the gardner says

    Reminder—- a group of American school kids descended on Sen Diane Feinstein’s office with their demands for immediate climate change action. DiFi was left stuttering and looking uncaring. These kids belonged to some group—- anyone remember the name? I don’t. Anyway, kids are being weaponized in America too. So far, haven’t seen one as freakish as Greta.

    • Max Blancke says

      It is a clever tactic, as anyone disagreeing with your argument can be accused of being mean to innocent children.
      But it can only work a limited number of times.
      Also, when the time comes to do really terrible stuff, kids can be convinced to do things adults generally just cannot do. Look at Cambodia in 1975.

  49. Ken Bashford says

    Climate change is a serious problem with potentially harmful, as well as potentially beneficial, effects on various groups of humans living in various parts of the world. Climate change is not an existential threat to humankind; intelligent, rational, caring adults should not be encouraging children to believe it is.

  50. Paula Fay says

    This is all very strange to me. There is an element of “The End is Nigh!” religious zealotry .
    I have a 10 year old daughter who is also autistic, if high-functioning.
    The first time I’ve ever heard my daughter express fear of the world at large was a few weeks ago. Her school held ‘Eco workshops’ & the staff told the kids that unless something changed, we will all be dead in 12 years.
    Yes, that is what they told the kids.
    So, one autistic teen needs to make the world afraid of imminent death (it is baloney) – and my autistic child now suffers deep anixiety as a result of us all enabling the first autistic kid to express themselves.
    It’s like a comic-tragedy.

    • Sydney says

      @Paula Fay

      I don’t know where you are, but the Canadian public (left-wing-gov-, union-, and university-directed) schools are nuts. It’s just a steady, non-stop drumbeat of far-left and left-lib propaganda. Every day, day after day. Week after week. Year after year.

      Yesterday, a Grade 10 Socials teacher set up a hypothetical for a class on ‘if Trump attacked Canada’…for absolutely no reason. Kids are either indoctrinated or bewildered. Everything is ‘green’, ‘eco’, ‘no-gender’, ‘victim identified’, ‘anti-colonialism’, ‘anti-capitalism’, ‘anti-Trump’…just a grab-bag of nonsense that the incompetent and politicized teachers are fed by their incredibly powerful union.

      I’m not surprised that vulnerable kids like your daughter are terrified. It’s clear to me as a parent that half of my parenting task today is to counter the far-left propaganda daily. I sit down with my kids and show them centrist and centre-right memes, videos, and articles all the time. (I originally came from the left but moved along the political spectrum.)

      You’re not just a parent today; you’re a part-time, volunteer counter-propagandist/cult deprogrammer. I couldn’t possibly have less respect for teachers than I have now.

      • Cary D Cotterman says

        Under no imaginable circumstances would my kids end up in public school today. Home schooling and (carefully vetted and supervised) tutoring are the only things left.

  51. Dr Scanlon says

    A little late for protesting. Climate change is in run away mode & so is the mass extinction – biological dominoes tumbling. Amazing how so few people will admit to the unprecedented forces we have unleashed. Civilization is toast and most likely so are the humans. Denial is a feature, not a bug, so I guess it’s not really amazing and more like to be expected.

    • Kencathedrus says

      @Dr Scanlon: Why should we fear climate change? What will happen when it does change?

    • Cary D Cotterman says

      Dr. Scanlon, I suspect you are a cartoon character.

  52. Mirek Goldberg says

    Very important article!
    Now I understand better what’s upp with the Ernman’s kids.
    Beware, should they as adults seriously decided to enter political career
    and influence lives of the citizens.

  53. Ray Andrews says

    Isn’t it time for children to have official Victim status? Surely they are Oppressed? Surely their voices are marginalized? Greta is of course smashing the senexiarchy as she can, but surely all children should be doing the same? This question is for the experts, but might it even be possible for white boys to be Good until puberty, (at which time they are normally promoted to Patriarchs and become Evi)l? But perhaps with enough money, white boys might even be cured of both masculinity and whiteness if treatment started early enough? Imagine an entire world 1/2 full of Justin Trudeaus or Pete Buttigiegs.

  54. Rolle J says

    @Paula Fey: Spot on. Thats exactly how I would describe this situation. The cynical exploitation of this in swedish media, without any questionmarks, is horrifying.

  55. Cay says

    My heart broke a little after reading this article. I have OCD and when I was her age it was ruinging my life. I realized I wanted to live so I started tackling the problem.

    As an adult I came to realize that many of my decisions when I was a teen, as well as like and dislikes, were based on a serious mental illness.

    Because I chose to seriously takle the issue and take myself apart it does not rule me. But you have to be willing to do that and it’s not fun or pleasant. In my opinion it is facing my worst nightmare over and over again.

    She should not be flaunted to the world by her parents. She should be in CBT till she feels lile she can get a handle on her illness. Such as bwing able to eat more than one thing. This is way more important than crusading an idea. This girl could die.

    OCD thinking tends to catastrophize things, so I am not surprised that she feels so strongly about the environment and impending doom. But the way to heal from this thinking has nothing to do with protests etc.

    The equivalent would be using someone with an eating disorder for a model… yeah that’s a great idea. Or someone with physical disabilities as a clown. Yeah good job parents.

  56. chrisbarclay6296 says

    Does anyon eknow how Greta Thornberg travels around? She wouldn’t be so hypocritical as to fly, would she?

  57. Joakim Olsson says

    Greta’s psychological issues is totally irrelevant and extremely poor to use it to attack her and her parents. Her parents deserve much criticism but this is a just a low blow.

  58. Andrew Melville says

    It certainly looks as if this silly child has tucked into the pantry since then. Why do some people pay attention to this junior nut job?

  59. House of Shards says

    Here’s an idea, a festering idea at that. Encourage children to feel anxious due to “patriarchy” “racism” “climate change.” Build up child’s ego by reinforcing the concept that child is a wounded bird. Doing so demonstrates the mother’s compassion. Her moral superiority, for caring so much. The more anxious, unhinged, and dependent the child, the more mamma is needed. The more mamma is needed, the more important she is.

    In universities, when child feels “uncomfortable” affirm said discomfort, even over trifles such as being asked “where are you from?” Wail along with young adult over perceived injustices. Then, hire more mental health advocates — all of them women — to “support” these young adults in feeling dependent on adults for the rest of their lives.

    This way, mamma and female mental health support feel needed. They are good. Good mothers care deeply about their wounded bird babies. They are “strong” for what they go through, day after day, reinforcing anxiety, then soothing.





    • Closed Range says

      House of Shards

      Spot on; reminds me of Pink Floyd’s song Mother from their album The Wall

      Mother do you think they’ll drop the bomb?
      Mother do you think they’ll like this song?
      Mother do you think they’ll try to break my balls?
      Ooh, ah
      Mother should I build the wall?
      Mother should I run for President?
      Mother should I trust the government?
      Mother will they put me in the firing mine?
      Ooh ah,
      Is it just a waste of time?
      Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry.
      Mama’s gonna make all your nightmares come true.
      Mama’s gonna put all her fears into you.
      Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing.
      She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing.
      Mama’s gonna keep baby cozy and warm.
      Ooh baby, ooh baby, ooh baby,
      Of course mama’s gonna help build the wall.

      Now, I’m just bracing myself for someone to take these lyrics out of context and link it to Trump….

  60. Barbie S says

    Please, has NO medical professional mentioned PANDAS or PANS to this family?!? They MUST have. It is treatable.

    But then this child could not be used to further the “message”…

  61. Heath says

    the further in i read, the more im getting a “the parents never told their kids no” vibe.

  62. Caroline says

    She is no longer a child. And often the people most able to speak to the world are the most troubled, just look at the vast majority of successful musicians. It doesn’t take away from the fact that they have a message and that the world wants to listen.

    • Sean Bearly says

      Right, musicians! Another group we should all listen to and idolize. Especially the successful ones.

  63. Anders says

    The article should have mentioned that her mother Malena Ernman is also bat shit crazy.

  64. Rikard says

    One thing not touched upon in ms Neuding’s text is this: Greta Thunberg and her legal Guardians are in violation of Swedish school law.

    Without official leave granted by Greta’s principal (or chief school administrator) she is by law compelled to attend class. If a pupil fails to do so the legal Guardian is to be informed the same day. If repeated, the guardians would receive a summons to school to discuss the matter. School officials, or the teacher responsble for the pupil, are also compelled to report any suspicion of foul play to a social security officer. Not to do so is a violation of the rules and codes governing teachers and school officials. Ultimately, police would be asked to Escort the Child to school.

    No Swedish journalist has, to my knowledge, asked about why St Greta is allowed to play truant time and time again.

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  66. Mongo says

    Why aren’t the parents in jail for child endangerment and neglect?

    Liberals take great pride in their stupidity.

  67. We live in a very complex world. Most people find the world incomprehensible. This frightens some to the point they are wiling to follow anyone who they think does. But even understanding why the person who does, actually does, is too complicated. So people use proxies for understanding. People have come to use purity of intention and intensity of feeling as proxies for understanding. Others use anger. Intense, anry, purity of intention (and children almost always embody this) is very alluring to such people. But there is something fundamentally wrong with parents using a child in this fashion. I personally find it grotesque.

    Yes, the child’s issues and her response to the real problem of climate change are linked in her mind. They are not linked in in nature. They are not linked in any objective way, in any of the senses that the word “objective” is used. Hier most ardent admirers would think very differently were she fighting against legal abortion. She would probably still have the Pope with her, and the main condemnations and praise would remain identical. But the sources would be switched.

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  69. David Barnett says

    Alan Savory made a compelling case on TED, presenting a simple solution to minimize carbon emissions, stop desertification, end starvation and poverty, end rural depopulation and make the world green again, all done with years of hard-earned experience, testing and proven examples….and NOBODY is talking about it. Greta should watch it instead of preaching measures which would kill the planet.

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  75. Mr. Caligari says

    I’ve the strong guess that the German government will follow the inspiration of greta and other clima activist. In the German media, there is a querel about however or not to establish a CO²-Tax in Germany.
    As far as I understand, that would not be the end of the clima change but the end of Germany as a industry nation.

    Sometimes I find me belive that somebody has found the self-destruction-button of the westian socities and this guy push the button as hard as he or she can!

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  77. Beata insists on walking with her left foot in front, refuses to step on certain parts of the sidewalk, and demands that her mother walk the same way.

    that pretty much describes all leftist “activists” ever. poor mother.

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  80. M Montgomery says

    Greta is a tool designed and engineered for a narrow and specific purpose. Being deprived of childhood, lack of parenting, and the balance of facts on climate, and likely most subjects, especially given her age, why is it so difficult to see child abuse?

    “I do not question… that climate change is an existential threat to humankind.” This is a false statement with zero proof. There is no existential threat via climate other than the normal perils (that we’ve come a long way in mitigating, btw). Period. There is just no excuse for people to not know the CO2 science at this point, along with our long history of doomsday predictions, ad nauseum, since the dawn of man.

    Earth and humans will be just fine if we don’t nuke ourselves or get hit by a meteor, or Yellowstone doesn’t blow or something similar. Some folks will have to migrate over very long periods of time due to normal ecological shifts. No one told people that is was a great idea to build at sea level, flood plains, or other dumb places. We have plenty to clean up in the way of obvious pollutions (the largest rivers of the world are filthy, we’re still dumping trash in the oceans???), but people don’t seem to be really interested in these types of concerns. Isn’t it funny that the only problem is the one that shuts the entire fossil fuel industry down? Funny. Other pollutants? Naw.

  81. ” … not questioning … that climate change is an existential threat to humankind….”
    Climate changes. Slowly. Through cycles that are longer than the average human lifetime. Labelling it a “threat” is to join in with the OCD. It is climate change Alarmism that is the threat.
    Trillions of dollars being spent on a non-existent problem. A lot of people know when they are being lied to but there are many who are vulnerable. The Australian Psychological Society claim to be the peak body representing psychologists, but they support this insane fanaticism. Perhaps this explains why I have been asked to assist with intervention for kids like Greta who have been brainwashed by teachers and others into thinking we are all going to get cooked and its all our fault? Does anyone with any brains trust the medics any more? I have expertise in climate-responsive design and other climate-related fields, so people call me a “climate expert”. Not all of the victims of climate alarmism are as privileged as Greta, One I have helped was threatening suicide. Not always an empty threat. I do what I can. Free of charge. Be warned. The first reaction after deprogramming can be anger and threats against the perpetrators of this abuse, especially if they are reachable such as teachers. The second part of the job is difficult; teaching the victim to dissimulate, eg conceal the fact that they have been deprogrammed from teachers, peers, social network contacts, Best solution in my experience is safety in numbers. Encourage the kid to find others who are in the same position. Some sort of alternative to AYCC is desperately needed.

  82. David Baril, Almonte, CA-ON says

    Having the lead-in photo and caption of the article refer to Greta as an 11 year old with an eating disorder is a deliberate attempt to mislead the reader. Greta is now 16 and the relevance of her purported eating disorder to her current activism is dubious at best. I am disappointed that Quilette allows such deliberate distortion. For a minute there, I thought that perhaps you were a legitimate voice for intelligent comment from outside the “left-liberal” bubble.

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