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“Civil society is being misled to believe oil is the cause of climate change.”

— Mohammed Barkindo, Secretary General, OPEC

Chilling. Millenarian Weirdo. Cult-like. Mentally Challenged. Strange.

I guess I’m not trying hard enough. I’ve written over 100 articles about climate change since 2012, the year of the first great Arctic ice meltdown. Yet, to my knowledge, I’ve seldom, if ever been subjected to ad hominem attacks. Those who disagree with my positions — that climate change is a real, man-made crisis — have tried, without success, to argue against them, rather than assailing me.

Instead, pejoratives such as those above seem to be reserved for those who take direct action to prevent humanity’s self-destruction. And in the most recent case of note, they have been aimed at the diminutive 16-year-old Nobel Prize nominee, Greta Thunberg.

You see, Thunberg’s “Strike-4-Climate” movement, joined by millions of youthful strikers worldwide, is having an effect. It, along with the efforts of many other individuals and organizations, is changing the way the public views the climate emergency and thus putting the fossil fuel industry on notice: The extraction and distribution of your products must and will be stopped.

Thunberg first went on “strike” (cut school) in August of 2018. Sitting alone across the street from Sweden’s Parliament building with a sign that read, “Strike for Climate,” she was soon joined by a few friends. Within seven months, she and her friends had organized a day-long climate strike that spanned every continent and involved over a million students.

But the real problem, from the fossil fuel industry’s viewpoint, it's that Thunberg, who has become an international celebrity, is still at it. She’s forming alliances with groups such as Britain’s Extinction Rebellion, America’s Sunrise Movement, 350.Org and others. She’s giving speeches anywhere in the world she can reach by train or ship, including the august World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. She met with the Pope and is about to cross the Atlantic in a sailboat — to avoid fossil-fuel-intensive flying — and address the U.N. Climate Conference in New York.

And she’s scaring the heck out of the fossil fuel industry. At a recent confab of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammed Barkindo, the group’s Secretary General, complained that “there is a growing mass mobilization of world opinion…against oil.” He added that changing attitudes toward fossil fuels were “beginning to … dictate policies and corporate decisions, including investment in the industry.” (For example, large insurers that underwrite the costs of climate-debacle cleanups are beginning to invest in renewable energy sources.)

After whining that the children of some of OPEC’s leaders witnessed the climate strikes and “are asking us about their future … ,” Barkindo concluded Thunberg’s movement was “perhaps the greatest threat to our industry going forward.”

To which little Greta responded via Twitter, “Thank you! [That’s] our biggest compliment yet!”

Oh, oh. Time to bring out the big guns and personally attack Thunberg. She’s got her climate chops down, and the information’s at her finger tips. Can’t go there.

So, let’s turn to those groups and media personalities who are not ashamed of attacking the girl on the basis of her medical/psychological condition (Asperger’s) and its effects on her speech (monotonous) and demeanor (flat). Let’s call her “deeply disturbed,” and excessively fearful of the climate crisis because of her “mental disorders.” Let’s call her followers “cultists,” susceptible to her “climate panic.”

To one such article Thunberg replied, ”I am indeed ‘deeply disturbed’ about the fact that these hate and conspiracy campaigns are allowed to go on and on just because we children communicate and act on the science. Where are the adults?”

Fortunately, it seems that Ms. Thunberg can take care of herself at our ecological house.

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Philip S. Wenz is the author of the E-book Your Ecological House, available at all major electronic book distributors.

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