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Greta’s growing up and now liberal eco-warriors and the media face losing their teenage talisman

Damian Wilson
Damian Wilson
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
Greta’s growing up and now liberal eco-warriors and the media face losing their teenage talisman
As Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg heads to Madrid for a climate summit, signs of her growing up will concern her handlers who will fear that her greatest asset, childhood, is slipping away and there’s nothing they can do.

Anyone with a teenager at home knows how unreasonable and unexpected their moments of rage can be, firing off emotional missiles at the closest targets oblivious to the consequences and instantly forgetful of the motives for their attack.

And so we have Greta Thunberg.

Backed by liberals, eco-warriors, and the plainly exploitative, the Swedish teenager has become a talisman for the climate change brigade who, while loving the media attention this kid attracts, have failed to equip her with the armour she has needed to deal with what was initially an awestruck media but has now turned into something else.

As she arrived in Lisbon on Tuesday after a trans-Atlantic crossing on a 48-foot (15-metre) catamaran, TV crews filmed her being stage managed by her doting dad and encouraged to wave at the adoring crowds gathered dockside to welcome her on her way to the COP25 yakfest in Madrid, Spain.

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The event seemed to lack the spontaneity of an earlier outing, Greta’s spiel seemed well-worn and the welcoming officials seemed kind of weird.

Why grown men dressed in suits and three times her age gathered to shake the hand of the bewildered teenage girl is beyond me, unless of course, it was solely for the photo op, heaven forbid.

After the platitudes to the people of Lisbon, “wonderful place, wonderful people, blah, blah,” Greta continued with her usual schtick of saving the world for our children, our children’s children and “every other living human being.” 

When she declared the sentiment that “we all have to make sure we’re on the right side of history by doing everything we can” the short, off-the-cuff speech began to sound a bit like an amalgam of key soundbites we’d all heard before and from other high profile eco-botherers of recent history, like Al Gore.

Greta says she first heard of climate change when she was eight years old and wondered why more wasn’t being done. That’s the same age most girls are wondering if they will ever see a unicorn and if Santa actually delivers those presents on Christmas Day.

Her opera-singer mum and actor dad, in the best Swedish liberal tradition, indulged their little darling, eschewing meat-eating and air travel at the insistence of their precocious daughter.

The result is Greta 2019.

First it was berating the United Nations on its home turf in New York, fixing Donald Trump with a death stare of which he was blissfully unaware, and now here she is again, lecturing parents everywhere that they should kow-tow to their upset kids.

“If they want us to stop being angry, maybe they should stop making us angry,” she told the pliant press in Lisbon, who had gathered to swallow her every word, when told that some adults considered her “angry.”

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And how, my little petal, would us big bad grown-ups manage to do that? Bend to your every whim, tread on eggshells near you when you’re feeling moody in case we do something you disagree with? Most parents will agree, indulgence just breeds spoilt children and while they are funny in some ways for their precociousness, knowing they can play an adult to get what they want, they become unbearable as they get older.

Let’s face it, if young Greta was old Greta sailing round the planet, preaching to us all about the errors of our ways it is highly unlikely that she would be given the media coverage she currently enjoys. She would simply be yet another member of Extinction Rebellion, or Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth protesting outside the Palace of Westminster or Shell HQ or one of the big banks. Bless.

And while the enamoured world’s press dread this ever happening, the day will come in the not too distant future when Greta grows up and people will view her as just another adult and stop paying attention to her earnest outpourings.

Then those who are currently urging her on as some sort of eco-saint will realise that Greta Thunberg’s greatest value is not that she’s well-informed, engaging or even angry. Her selling point is that Greta is a kid.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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