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Naomi Seibt is a 19-year-old German who, like Greta Thunberg, is blonde, eloquent and European. But Naomi's message is another. This girl who lives in the city of Münster, west of Germany and who has more than 50,000 followers on her YouTube channel, denounces the "climate alarmism", calls climate awareness "a despicably anti-human ideology" and has even appropriate of Greta's already famous phrase "How dare you?".
Signed by The Heartland Institut, an organization of neoliberal American experts, very much in line with the president of the United States Donald Trump, has already earned the nickname by the anti-Greta media
"She is a fantastic voice for free markets and for climate realism," said James Taylor, director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy at Heartland Institute, an influential center for libertarian studies in the suburbs of Chicago.
In December, Heartland placed Naomi in its forum of the United Nations conference on climate in Madrid, where Taylor described her as "the star" of the program. Last month, Heartland hired Naomi as the young face of his campaign to question the scientific consensus that human activity is causing dangerous global warming .
"Naomi Seibt vs. Greta Thunberg: Who should we trust?" Heartland asked in a digital video. Later this week, Naomi will make her American debut at the Conservative Political Action Conference , or CPAC, a high-profile annual meeting outside Washington of right-wing activists .
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Heartland's tactics amount to an acknowledgment that Greta has touched a nerve, especially among teenagers and young adults, reports The Washington Post . Since launching her protest two years ago in front of the Swedish parliament at the age of 15, Greta has sparked youth protests around the world and in 2019 she was named Person of the Year by Time magazine, the youngest to win this recognition.
The adolescent has asked the nations of the world to reduce their total carbon production by at least half over the next decade, saying that if they do not, "then there will be horrible consequences."
Naomi, meanwhile, argues that these predictions of dire consequences are exaggerated . In a video posted on the Heartland website, she looks at the camera and says, "I don't want you to panic. I want you to think . "
Naomi said his political activism began a few years ago when he started asking questions at school about Germany's liberal immigration policies. He said the reaction of teachers and other students hardened his skepticism about the mainstream of German thought. More recently, he said watching young people join the weekly "Friday for the future" protests inspired by Greta helped spur their opposition to climate change activism .
"I get chills when I see those young people, especially on" Fridays for the Future. "They are screaming and screaming and are generally terrified," he said in an interview. "They don't want the world to end."
Naomi said he does not argue that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet, but argues that many scientists and activists have exaggerated their impact .
"I don't want people to stop believing in man-made climate change at all," he said. "Do man-made CO2 emissions have so much impact on the weather? I think it's ridiculous to believe it."
Naomi argues that other factors, such as solar energy, play a role, although the amount of solar energy that arrives on Earth has actually decreased since the 1970s, according to federal measurements.
In addition to climate change, Naomi echoes the extreme right skepticism about feminism and immigration. The German media has described her as a supporter of the Alternative Nationalist for Germany (AfD), the largest opposition party in Parliament, whose leaders have talked about fighting "an invasion of foreigners." Naomi says she is not a member of AfD - she describes herself as libertarian - but acknowledges having spoken at a recent AfD event.
His road to Heartland began in November with a speech at EIKE, a think tank in Munich whose vice president is a prominent AfD politician. By then, Naomi was already active on YouTube, producing videos on topics ranging from migration to feminism and climate change. Among her listeners was Taylor from Heartland, who said she immediately recognized her potential and approached her to work with the institute.
Founded in 1984 and funded largely by anonymous donors, Heartland has increasingly focused on climate change over the past decade. His staff and investigators enjoy easy access to the Trump administration, and one of his main fellows, William Happer, was senior director of the White House National Security Council between September 2018 and 2019.
Professor emeritus of physics at Princeton University, Happer has repeatedly argued that carbon emissions should be considered beneficial for society , and not a pollutant that drives global warming. During the time he was in the Trump administration, he sought the help of Heartland to promote his ideas and opposed the conclusion of a US intelligence official that climate impacts could be "possibly catastrophic," according to documents obtained by The Washington Post .
"How dare they?"
Naomi was presented as "the star" of a "Forum on climate reality" organized by Heartland at the Climate Summit in Madrid. More than 100,000 people followed their talk on climate realism "in which Naomi advocated fighting against German climate emission reduction policies.
"The financing of our German Environmental Affairs project will allow Heartland to provide Naomi with the equipment and sources it needs to present a series of effective videos that draw attention to the negative impacts of excessive environmental regulations," says the proposal of the Institute.
The young German has responded to the media with her own video invoking Greta: How dare they? "
"The reason I don't like the term anti-Greta is that it suggests that I am an indoctrinated puppet, I guess, on the other side," he says in a video. When asked if he refers to that as a criticism of Greta, Naomi says: "That sounds a bit mean, really." He added: "I don't want to embarrass her in any way."
Taylor said the tendency to associate Naomi with Greta is "something natural and benefits Heartland's message."
"To the extent that Naomi is more or less the same, only with a different perspective, yes, I think it is good for people to see both as similar in many ways," he said.
Even so, Naomi has a long way to go to reach the level of global attention that is lavished in Greta. While Greta measures her social media followers in millions, Naomi has a little less than 50,000 YouTube subscribers.
Through his spokesmen, Greta declined to comment.
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