Youth Climate Activists Under Attack

In the wake of online attacks on Greta Thunberg after she blasted climate deniers, American youth activists Alexandria Villaseñor and Lia Harel told Brut how they’re planning to face down any intimidation.

Despite the smear campaigns, U.S. youth climate activists are turning up the pressure

Inspired by Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement, Villaseñor has emerged as a leading figure within the U.S. youth climate movement. But speaking truth to power is not without risks, especially for a youth climate activist. Following a recent wave of attacks by right-wing politicians and media, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg hit back with a tweet at an Australian journalist who called her "deeply disturbed". “I am indeed” deeply disturbed” about the fact that these hate and conspiracy campaigns are allowed to go on and on and on just because we children communicate and act on the science. Where are the adults?”

In July, the teenager also had to call out French politicians after they boycotted her Parliamentary visit. Youth climate activists have been under attack in the U.S. too — where climate science denial is more widespread compared with other countries. Despite the smear campaigns, U.S. youth climate activists are turning up the pressure. “My message to Greta Thunberg, because she has been cyber bullied and as well facing the attacks of climate deniers, is to continue what you're doing, because when climate deniers feel threatened by how your activism and the message and influence you have, then you are really making a difference. So, you have my support and the support of all the strikers all around the world,” Alexandria Villaseñor, Climate activist shouts out in support.

Lia Harel, Climate activist and iMatter leader adds, “I think immediately we need to recognize that continuing burning fossil fuels is making the problem worse. Every single minute of every single day. So that needs to be addressed immediately. Second, we need to make sure that we are moving our money away from fossil fuel infrastructure and moving that towards building renewable energy and making sure that our investments in that are really what is driving the economy to grow. And finally I think that what needs to happen is there needs to be a stop in the controversy around the word climate change and we need to accept the fact, that it is fact, and that it's time.”

As Thunberg announced she will be joining the UN Climate Summit in New York City in September, U.S. activists are now planning for the largest-ever climate protests.