Meet the anti-Greta Thunberg, a climate ‘skeptic’ funded by the oil industry

Naomi Seibt calls herself a climate skeptic.

Feb 24, 2020, 2:07 pm*

Tech

Claire Goforth 

Claire Goforth

Naomi Seibt says she’s a skeptic who just wants to inject some sense—her version of it, anyway—into the conversation about whether and how much human activity is influencing climate change. Although Seibt claims to dislike the moniker, the 19-year-old German YouTube personality is best known as the “anti-Greta” Thunberg.

As this weekend’s profile of Seibt in the Washington Post notes, she and Thunberg do have some things in common: They’re both blonde, European, and capable public speakers.

Ideologically, on the other hand, the pair are diametrically opposed on the subject that propelled Thunberg to stardom: climate change. Further, while Thunberg’s rise to celebrity was created organically, Seibt is being promoted by the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank that’s among the most effective promoters of climate change denial, and which counts the oil industry among its most generous benefactors.

The Post’s profile of Seibt inspired a spectrum of reactions, many negative. Criticisms and arguments about climate change and Thunberg raged in the comments.

Both teens have found eager audiences for their respective messages. Thunberg has spoken before the United Nations and Congress. Seibt is set to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) later this week, among a cast of characters that includes Andy Ngo, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), and what looks to be every single member of President Donald Trump’s administration, family, and 2020 campaign.

So who is this teen and what does she believe?

Who is Naomi Seibt?

Seibt says she resents being called a climate denier, a term she likens to Holocaust denial, which she says she finds particularly offensive as a German. She calls herself a skeptic who’s pushing back on what she refers to as climate alarmism, the scientific consensus that carbon emissions are causing a dangerous increase in average global temperatures, as well as sea-level rise, and extreme weather events.

“Climate change science really isn’t science at all,” she says in a recent video on Heartland Institute’s YouTube channel. “Climate change alarmism, at its very core, is a despicably anti-human ideology.”

On her personal channel, where she has 47,500 subscribers, Seibt claims that she grew up believing in “climate change hysteria” but that she rejected it in her earlier teen years. She believes that the climate is changing, and says she considers it “an atrocious insult” to be called a climate denier. Instead, she argues against the weight of evidence that human activity is the primary cause.

She also minimizes the seriousness of rising temperatures and incorrectly dismisses climate change models such as the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as inaccurate.

“In the last couple of decades global warming has been way less severe than initially foretold by the IPCC,” Seibt says in one video. IPCC’s global warming predictions have actually been among the most accurate, the Guardian reports.

Like many conservatives, Seibt claims she has been victimized for these views.

In a video called “Coming Out … my experience #PrideMonth,” Seibt says that it’s harder to come out as a conservative than as a sexual minority. She opines that people who come out as gay “would probably receive massive amounts of support.”

“Coming out can still be a very tough thing to do,” she says. “However, I’m not talking about coming out as gay, but coming out as non-leftist, coming out as conservative, or libertarian even.”

Seibt has also railed against feminism, arguing that measures intended to foster gender equality are “true sexism,” and that advancement is entirely merit-based in today’s society. She believes that feminism—the belief in gender equality—is detrimental to women.

“Feminism in the 21st century is attacking the confidence of young women,” she says.

Although Seibt likes to say that she’s “not anti-Greta!” her branding indicates otherwise. Both she and Heartland Institute repeatedly appropriate Thunberg’s likeness and quotes in YouTube videos like, “I want you to think,” “How dare you,” and “Naomi Seibt v. Greta Thunberg: Who should we trust?

Since discovering Seibt in November when she spoke at EIKE, a German think tank that DeSmogBlog describes as a “climate change denial organization,” the far-right Heartland Institute has tried to create a narrative that pits Seibt against Thunberg in a sort of teen-versus-teen distillation of the debate about climate change.

They splice videos of Seibt speaking calmly with some of Thunberg’s more impassioned statements in an obvious effort to convince viewers that the “climate skeptic” is the reasonable one, and the teenager echoing scientists’ dire warnings about fossil fuel emissions is the unreasonable alarmist.

Even as their influence grows in certain circles, some think that the best way to deal with Seibt’s ilk is to just ignore them.

Thunberg seems to agree. She has not commented on the matter.

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*First Published: Feb 24, 2020, 1:12 pm