Who is the ‘anti-Greta’?

Greta Thunberg has become a leader of the world climate activism movement. Her “Fridays For Future” strike has now been replicated in towns and cities worldwide, inspiring millions of young people to take to the streets in protest of their government’s inaction, despite the unanimous agreement in the scientific community that we need to act now to prevent climate breakdown. When she attended last Friday’s strike in Bristol, some 30,000 people showed up in the less than ideal weather to show their support. But with the climate strike movement gaining so much momentum and press coverage, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is convinced by Greta’s message.

Naomi Seibt is a 19-year-old German YouTuber who has been called the “anti-Greta” in reference to her sceptical view on the climate crisis. She refers to the mainstream message of the climate strikers and the scientific community as “climate alarmism” and calls herself a ‘climate realist’. Naomi has called the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report “fictional science”, despite it using a variety of climate models from scientists around the world. Talking about media coverage of the climate crisis, she said: “the goal [of climate scientists] is to shame humanity. Climate change alarmism at its very core is a despicably anti-human ideology and we are told to look down at our achievements with guilt, with shame and disgust, and not even to take into account the many major benefits we have achieved by using fossil fuels as our main energy source.”

Seibt’s other political views are mostly conservative and she says she became sceptical of “Germany’s liberal immigration policies” in 2015, after which she became more interested in politics. She has also described Stefan Molyneux, an alt-right Canadian YouTuber known for his white supremacist views, as an “inspiration” for her own videos.

Naomi has not been afraid to use the media’s comparison of her and Greta to her advantage in speeches. Thunberg’s “how dare you” quote from her speech at the UN has now become a common sight on protest signs at strikes around the world. Seibt uses this quote in response to negative coverage of her in the media. German media have called her a “climate change denier”, which she has said is inaccurate. Despite the scientific consensus, she believes climate change is not as severe an issue as the “mainstream media” says, and questions how great of an impact humans have had in influencing any warming that has taken place. However, Naomi does not deny that the climate has changed in the past 100 years.

She has spoken at a number of conservative think tanks like the European Institute for Climate and Energy in Munich and, perhaps most notably, the Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute promotes climate change denial and also warns of the need to avoid “climate alarmism” because of the potential economic damage it could cause. The institute has stopped reporting its funding sources, but oil company ExxonMobil is known to have been a donor in the past.

Naomi Seibt does not yet have the same audience or media coverage as Greta Thunberg, but many believe she will become the equivalent voice for climate change sceptics. The director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy at the Heartland Institute said: “She’s a fantastic voice for free markets and for climate realism”. He has also said he hopes she will help the climate sceptic movement change its image to “move away from old white men and instead showcase a younger generation.”

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Henry Webb