Washington Post article incites dispute over climate change

By AMANDA KARP
On February 24, 2020

Photo courtesy of European Parliament, Flickr

Social media users criticized The Washington Post after it published an article interviewing someone who many readers considered to be a climate change denier.

Naomi Seibt, 19, was profiled in a Feb. 23 Washington Post article and was aptly nicknamed the “anti-Greta” for her views. The title is a nod to 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, whose famous United Nations Climate Action Summit speech called for world leaders to act and be held accountable for climate change.

The German teenager headlined a forum for libertarian think-tank Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy at the Heartland Institute, an organization connected to the Trump administration, during the UN’s Madrid climate conference.

Yet Seibt rejects the name “anti-Greta.” In a video posted to YouTube by the Heartland Institute titled “Naomi Seibt vs. Greta Thunberg: Whom Should We Trust,” Seibt explains her position.

“The reason I don’t like the term ‘anti-Greta’ is because it suggests that I myself am an indoctrinated puppet, I guess, for the other side,” she said. The video is then interspersed with clips from Thunberg’s impassioned UN speech, attempting to make Thunberg seem less reasonable than Seibt.

Nonetheless, she continues with the idea that being alarmed about the current state of the planet is wrong.

“Climate change alarmism at its very core, is very a despicably anti-human ideology,” Seibt said.

“The other side, they call us climate deniers and I hate that term, absolutely, especially as a German,” she continued in the video. “It is so rude to refer to someone as a climate denier because obviously there is a connection to the term ‘Holocaust denier,’ which carried a lot of weight in Germany, and I don’t want to do the same to the other side.”

Seibt’s claim that a climate denier and a Holocaust denier have similar connotations seems off-base. Both perspectives carry the same mistaken meaning: that it is fine to take a moderate, if not ignorant, perspective towards harmful practices.

Seibt wants the other side to realize that her side is of “climate realists” who want to talk about facts and science while refraining from denouncing others.

Some Twitter users praised the Washington Post for including Seibt’s perspective.

“Thank you @washingtonpost for showing another side,” tweeted Diane Tavarez Strain, @TAVSTRA. 

However, most reactions across Twitter were largely negative, quickly calling out the Post for pushing an anti-climate change agenda.

“Why are you still promoting someone who is in denial of our earth's dire state of being? This is irresponsible,” tweeted Simone Rene’e, @frenchifry.

“Jesus, @washingtonpost enough, just stop it. There are not two sides to this story. #ClimateCrisis,” tweeted Peter Thorn, @petethorn.

“As a German I'm really at a loss. Why is WaPo pushing German fringe right-wingers that aren't even particularly well known here?” tweeted Sour Kraut, @DCorso123.

There is always a need to hear a variety of perspectives on issues like climate change, but it is past the time to deny climate change or to talk about being a “climate realist.” 

 

akarp@ramapo.edu

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