At 19, Naomi Seibt is becoming the voice of climate skeptics. Portrait of this young German woman fighting against “climate alarmism”. Close to the far right, it was powered by the Heartland Institute, an American think tank supported by relatives of Donald Trump.
Climate skeptics have found their faces. Her name is Naomi Seibt, she is German and she denounces in videos posted on her YouTube page “climate alarmism”. In December 2019, the Heartland Institute, an American think tank committed against the scientific consensus on climate change, made the young woman its headliner during its forum on “climate realism”, organized on the sidelines of COP25, to Madrid. A month later, he hired him as a megaphone.
“Greta Thunberg has taken the world by storm with her apocalyptic weather forecasts. Rising star Naomi Seibt defends a realistic scientific discourse on climate change. Which is more reasonable in your opinion?” Questions the Heartland Institute in the caption of a video called “Naomi Seibt vs Greta Thunberg: Who to Trust?”
“I don’t want you to panic”
Naomi Seibt is propelled on the media scene as “anti-Greta”. Difficult not to make the comparison: blondes, young, eloquent, the 16-year-old Swedish woman and the 19-year-old German woman are both activists, but from opposite causes. When Greta Thunberg tirelessly warns of the climate emergency, the other warns against “climate alarmism”.
Without denying global warming, which she nevertheless considers “overestimated”, Naomi Seibt questions the impact of human activity on this phenomenon. According to her, climate consciousness is a “foul anti-human ideology”. She hopes to reassure the young people who mobilize during the ” Fridays for Future “, initiated by Greta Thunberg. “I would like young people not to be made to fear the future or to believe that the older generations are destroying the planet, that animal species are dying out or that nature is dying.”
Faced with Greta Thunberg’s success, Naomi Seibt draws inspiration from her language and communication skills. She takes up now-famous phrases from the young Swedish girl, transforming, for example, the “I want you to panic”, launched in January 2019 at the Davos forum, in ” I do not want you to panic. I want you to think “. However, Naomi Seibt does not always seem comfortable with the comparison. “The reason I don’t like the term anti-Greta is that it suggests that I’m an indoctrinated puppet myself,” she says.
Freedom of expression, migration crisis and the German extreme right
Defending against manipulation, Naomi Seibt defends her free will. It places its fight under the virtuous standard of freedom of expression and against single thought, alleging its right to “express skepticism on scientific grounds”.
Naomi Seibt says she started “being skeptical” in 2015. “But it had less to do with climate science than with the migration crisis in Germany.” She asserts her critical spirit in the face of subjects which would make consensus among the “mainstream media” – in bulk, the migration crisis, feminism, gender theory, socialism, post-modernism or … climate change. Questions that are “all linked in a sense and which open the way to totalitarianism”.
The German media say she is sympathetic to Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), a far-right party and third political force in the Bundestag. She claims not to be part of it. However, his first video posted on YouTube is a poem on courage, written as part of a competition launched in April 2019 by the AfD. She was also applauded at an AFD meeting in Munster in early February.
In November 2019, she also participated in a conference of EIKE (European Institute for Climate and Energy), a German think tank whose vice president, Michael Limburg, was on the lists of AfD during the 2017 legislative elections. And it was during this conference that Naomi was noticed by the Heartland Institute, the two organizations having animated several conferences together.
The interest of American climate skeptics
It remains to be seen why an American think tank is interested in a young German activist. The Heartland Institute is supported by influential Republicans, including William Harper, who served on the National White House Security Council between 2018 and 2019. This scientist, founder of the “CO2 Coalition” – an organization defending the “vital role of the CO2 in our environment “- was notably noted for having compared the” demonization of CO2 “to” demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler “.
According to the Washington Post, its big supporters of CO2 fear that “the strong will of Germany to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions is contagious”. In a note consulted by the newspaper, Naomi Seibt is presented by a director of Heartland as “the star” of the forum on climate realism in Madrid, who, “with more than 100,000 unique visitors on his video”, would be well placed to fight German climate policy.
Suspected of being manipulated by issues that go beyond her, Naomi Seibt replied to “mainstream media”. “How dare you?” She launched in a video, taking up the words spoken with emotion by Greta Thunberg before the United Nations in September 2019. If the intervention of Greta Thunberg, elected personality of the year 2019 by Time magazine, made nearly 1.8 million views on YouTube, that of Naomi is only 38,000. The comparison between two activists, therefore, stops there.