Like climate activist Greta Thunberg (17), Naomi Seibt is a teenager from Europe, with long blond hair and an articulated opinion about the climate. But the comparison did not end there.
After all, the German Naomi Seibt (19) proclaims the opposite of her Swedish counterpart against all shared scientific insights, and she gets a lot of resonance. This week she speaks at a meeting of a right-wing conservative think tank in the United States, where American President Donald Trump is the headliner. Meet the anti-Greta.
Who is Naomi Seibt?
Naomi Seibt is a teenager from Münster, in north-west Germany, who is endowed with an IQ of 157. She says that her political activism started a few years ago when she began asking questions about Germany’s migration policy at school. The criticism she then received from teachers and other students increased her skepticism about mainstream thinking in Germany.
Seeing the many young people who participate in the weekly school strikes for the climate created an aversion to climate activism. It was different once. “I was an innocent young girl and thought I could save the world by planting trees and using reusable bags instead of plastic,” she says. She is no longer convinced of that. “I get shivers when I see the school strikers,” she says. “How they shout and be terrified and don’t want the world to end. Think twice.”
What does she stand for?
Seibt is called a climate denier, but prefers the term “climate realistic”. For example, she would not doubt that greenhouse gases are warming our planet, but she believes that many scientists and activists exaggerate the impact. Also, the effect of humans, although many scientific studies say something else. “People overestimate their power when they think that their plastic straw can have a significant effect on the climate,” it sounds.
She points to other factors such as solar energy as driving forces for global warming. Although the amount of solar energy reaching the earth has been falling since the 1970s, according to measurements from the American government, among others.
She does not like the predicate anti-Greta. “I am not an indoctrinated hand puppet. I don’t want to be the umpteenth scapegoat that gets a simple label like their other opponents. I want us to be critical of science. We cannot take away the hope of the younger generation for a good future and drive them into an eco-depression.”
Remarkable: she does not shy away from referring to Thunberg herself. Two weeks ago, for example, she posted a video in which she criticized the mainstream media with the headline “How dare you”, a reference to a speech that Greta Thunberg made for the United Nations.
What does she say about Greta Thunberg?
In a speech on her YouTube channel, Seibt speaks frankly about her Swedish counterpart. She describes Thunberg as “a young and innocent, but also extremely immature and uneducated girl, who is being abused for the treacherous agenda of climate hysteria without any scruples.”
How popular is Seibt?
Seibt currently has the most massive following on YouTube, where it has collected around 50,000 followers. Some 10,000 people follow her on Facebook. With that, she is still very far away from the followers of Greta Thunberg. She has perhaps only 18,000 subscribers on YouTube, on Twitter, it has 4 million followers, and on Instagram, even 9.9 million.
Where is Seibt still popping up?
According to German media, she would have sympathy for the right-wing populist party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which wants to stop “the invasion of aliens”. She already spoke at a meeting of the party. Her performance in the US can be seen in the same context.
What is behind her message?
Seibt cooperates with the American Heartland Institute, a conservative and libertarian political think tank. According to Graham Brookie of the Digital Forensic Research Lab – who wants to expose disinformation – you can call the campaign “outright disinformation”, but it would be very similar to the so-called “the 4 d’s” model.
He tells the Washington Post newspaper: ‘dismiss the message, distort the facts, distract the audience, and express dismay at the whole thing’. This means so much as reject the message, turn the facts around, distract the audience, and out of dismay at everything.
“The goal is to create a resemblance with the original spokesperson and message. In this case, it is a false resemblance between a message based on climate science, and that went virally in an organic way, and a message based on climate skepticism that is trying to keep up and that is driven by paid promotion.”