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PIERS MORGAN: Greta’s a young drama queen, but Trump must stop mocking her and start listening

‘You have enemies?’ said Sir Winston Churchill. ‘Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.’

For a tiny 16-year-old kid, pigtailed Greta Thunberg has made a lot of enemies.

As many people lambasted her as praised her yesterday after her blistering, tearful speech to the United Nations, in which she berated delegates for what she perceives as their shameful dereliction of duty over climate change.

As with every major political issue these days, the social media tribes swiftly adopted their trenchant partisan positions about Ms Thunberg and there’s no middle ground between Gretamania or Gretaphobia.

This week, millions around the world marched to the beat of Greta Thunberg’s drum, and she got to directly challenge the most powerful collection of people on the planet, and did so with staggering velocity. Greta is pictured at the UN on Monday

¿How DARE you? Greta exclaimed, evoking the righteous indignant rage of many Emmy-winning actresses and US Soccer star Megan Rapinoe on various stages this week. ¿You have stolen my dreams and my childhood!¿

‘How DARE you? Greta exclaimed, evoking the righteous indignant rage of many Emmy-winning actresses and US Soccer star Megan Rapinoe on various stages this week. ‘You have stolen my dreams and my childhood!’

If you’re a liberal, she’s a brilliantly passionate teenage firebrand single-handedly saving the planet and torching useless politicians with much-needed fire.

If you’re a conservative, she’s a whining, crying, annoyingly self-righteous weirdo who is massively exaggerating the imminent threat posed by climate change and just ‘doesn’t get it’.

Unusually, I find myself in two minds about her.

Part of me loves Greta.

There’s something truly remarkable about the way this very determined young lady has stormed the world stage on a single issue mission, like a human exocet missile.

Just a year ago, she was a lone protestor who captured attention when she plonked herself down in front of the Swedish Parliament with a sign saying ‘School strikes for the climate’ and began skipping school once a week to make a stand about climate change.

This week, millions around the world marched to the beat of her drum, and she got to directly challenge the most powerful collection of people on the planet, and did so with staggering velocity.

‘How DARE you? Greta exclaimed, evoking the righteous indignant rage of many Emmy-winning actresses and US Soccer star Megan Rapinoe on various stages this week. ‘You have stolen my dreams and my childhood!’

Within minutes, her angry words were flashing around the globe, casting a turbo-charged light on climate change.

They were soon followed by video footage of her pulling an enraged face at President Trump as he walked into the UN.

To many, the double whammy of her excoriating speech and savage scowl was heroic.

To a point, I agree.

Notwithstanding all the over-the-top thespian histrionics, it achieved the massive media attention she craved, and her message is important.

But I also found it very uncomfortable viewing.

Greta has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism that she calls her ‘superpower’.

It’s a developmental disorder characterized by profound difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication.

It can cause those who have it to develop an ‘intense preoccupation with a narrow subject’ and ‘one-sided verbosity.’

People with Aspergers have feelings like pain and fear, and joy, but often experience them far more intensely than by those who don’t have it.

It would be hard even for her most ardent supporters to argue that Greta doesn’t currently have ‘an intense preoccupation with a narrow subject’ or that she displays a ‘one-sided verbosity’.

Or, indeed, that her constant highly emotional apocalyptic warnings that the world’s exploding into hell all around us, are not perhaps driven with abnormally enhanced fear and pain.

Within minutes, her angry words were flashing around the globe, casting a turbo-charged light on climate change. They were soon followed by video footage of her pulling an enraged face at President Trump as he walked into the UN (pictured)

Within minutes, her angry words were flashing around the globe, casting a turbo-charged light on climate change. They were soon followed by video footage of her pulling an enraged face at President Trump as he walked into the UN (pictured)

To many, the double whammy of her excoriating speech and savage scowl (pictured) was heroic

To many, the double whammy of her excoriating speech and savage scowl (pictured) was heroic 

She’s quite clear too that she wants fellow teenagers to share that fear and pain.

And that’s where I have a problem with Greta.

On the science, I agree with her: climate change is a very real and present threat and our world leaders must all do more to combat it.

But her end-of-the-world-is-nigh ranting rhetoric is terrifying millions of young people to an extent that eco-anxiety is massively increasing as a stress disorder.

To put it bluntly, Greta’s made almost her entire generation think they’re about to die.

And she doesn’t really have any answers for what they can do about it.

Asked by a journalist from The Atlantic this week what young people like her should actually DO to combat climate change, she replied: ‘They can do everything. There are so many ways to make a difference.’

Sure, but specifically what?

When pressed, she suggested joining an activist movement and if you’re old enough, voting.

Well yes, that much is obvious.

But Greta doesn’t have much else to offer the debate; she just wants us to ‘listen to the science’.

One person who should definitely do that is President Trump, whose reaction to Greta’s speech was entirely predictable in its undisguised derision.

‘She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,’ he tweeted, sarcastically, ‘so nice to see!’

In his usual ham-fisted way, Trump does have a point that Greta appears to be a very sad angry girl with a grimly fatalistic view of the future. 

She also, yesterday, came over as extremely vulnerable, emotionally unstable, and possibly psychologically damaged by her year of campaigning.

This should hardly surprise anyone who knows her background.

Greta first got worried about climate change when she was just eight years old, and expressed shock that adults didn’t appear to be taking it seriously enough.

It led to her suffering a deep depression when she was 11, saw her stop eating for two months, and going to school, and then stop speaking to everyone bar her family and one teacher.

It was around that time that she was diagnosed with Aspergers, obsessive compulsive disorder and selective mutism.

Her obsession compulsion was the environment.

President Trump's reaction to Greta¿s speech was entirely predictable in its undisguised derision. Trump is pictured Monday during a meeting with the Egyptian president

President Trump’s reaction to Greta’s speech was entirely predictable in its undisguised derision. Trump is pictured Monday during a meeting with the Egyptian president

President Trump's reaction to Greta¿s (pictured Tuesday) speech was entirely predictable in its undisguised derision

President Trump’s reaction to Greta’s (pictured Tuesday) speech was entirely predictable in its undisguised derision

¿She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,¿ he tweeted, sarcastically, ¿so nice to see!¿

‘She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,’ he tweeted, sarcastically, ‘so nice to see!’ 

‘Our teachers showed us films of plastic ocean, starving polar bears and so on,’ she said. ‘I cried through the movies. My classmates were concerned when they watched the films but when they stopped, they started thinking about other things. I couldn’t do that. Those pictures were stuck in my head.’

She became a trident eco-warrior, pressurizing her family to become vegans, drive electric cars and stop flying.

And then came the school strike protest, and the rest will very likely be history.

So Greta’s now been propelled into the stratosphere of global superstardom, but at what cost to her mental health and wellbeing?

Certainly, if she was my daughter, I’d want to protect her now, not keep throwing her to the wolves of divisive global scrutiny and criticism.

And that raises another problem – Greta’s parents, and their motivation for all this.

They both craved the kind of fame their daughter now enjoys – mother Malena is a well-known Swedish singer who entered the Eurovision song contest in 2009 (she came 21st), and father Svante is an actor.

It’s widely suspected that it was Malena who initially tipped off the media about her daughter’s school strike campaign, with the help of green activist Ingmar Rentzhog who made millions for his firm We Don’t Have Time from the subsequent publicity blitz after Greta joined his youth advisory board.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, Malena had just written a book about her family including Greta, that’s now become a bestseller.

Greta’s dad says he doesn’t like her missing school but insists: ‘We respect that she wants to make a stand. She can either sit at home and be really unhappy, or protest, and be happy.’

Trump may not be a climate change denier, but he¿s certainly a sceptic, and the world needs less scepticism about it and more cold hard realism ¿ fast. Trump is pictured at the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday

Trump may not be a climate change denier, but he’s certainly a sceptic, and the world needs less scepticism about it and more cold hard realism – fast. Trump is pictured at the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday

The problem is she doesn’t look remotely happy now.

Instead, Greta Thunberg looks miserable, terrified, vulnerable and lonely; a teenage girl on the spectrum who can’t deal with what is exploding around her.

None of this means she is wrong about climate change.

Almost every credible scientist agrees the planet is now heating up dangerously fast, and a lot of that is down to the way we environment-guzzling humans now live our lives.

And many of our most powerful politicians, led by President Trump, are undeniably failing to take it seriously enough.

When I interviewed Trump in London in June, I pressed him about whether he believes in climate change, and he replied: ‘I believe there is a change in weather and I think it changes both ways. Don’t forget, it used to be called global warming, that wasn’t working, then it was climate change, now it’s extreme weather.’

That was such a lame, non-committal response, especially coming from a man backed by self-serving oil tycoons who’s pulled America out of the crucial Paris Agreement on climate change.

Trump may not be a climate change denier, but he’s certainly a sceptic, and the world needs less scepticism about it and more cold hard realism – fast.

So I applaud Greta Thunberg for forcing us all to wake up and take proper notice, and I urge President Trump to stop mocking her and start listening because she’s right and he’s wrong.

But I will applaud Greta even more now if she goes back to school, escapes the oppressive limelight that’s left her so fragile, and leaves it to the adults she’s rightly shamed to finish her excellent work.

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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