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Greta Thunberg addresses climate deniers' attacks and Trump's tweet

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg poses for a photograph during an inteview with AFP onboard the Malizia II sailing yacht at the Mayflower Marina in Plymouth, southwest England, on August 13
Climate activist Greta Thunberg poses on board the Malizia II sailing yacht at the Mayflower Marina. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who inspired a global protest movement, responded Wednesday after a wave of climate science deniers targeted her following her UN speech this week — including President Trump.

Driving the news: Trump was the most prominent person to dismiss Thunberg, mocking her in a late-night tweet Monday after she urged leaders in New York to act because people are already dying from climate change. But many others have weighed in to attack her, from a TV pundit to a state governor, and some of the commentary got personal.

Why it matters: Some of the attacks on Thunberg following her UN speech appeared to target her because she has Asperger's, which is on the autism spectrum and which she has likened to having a superpower.

  • Conservative commentator Michael Knowles was condemned by autism advocacy groups and Fox News for calling Thunberg a "mentally ill Swedish child" while on the network's show "The Story" Monday. (Fox issued an apology to news outlets afterward, and told The Hollywood Reporter it had "no plans" to book Knowles as a guest again.)

(Reality check: Per Vox, Autism is classified as a developmental disability, not a mental illness, but using such language highlights the stigma people with autism face.)

The big picture: Others to criticize Thunberg include former Trump White House adviser Sebastian Gorka. He tweeted a video of her UN speech with the comment, "This performance by Greta Thunberg is disturbingly redolent of a victim of a Maoist 're-education' camp. The adults who brainwashed this autist [sic] child should be brought up on child abuse charges."

  • Fox News host Laura Ingram was called out by her brother on Twitter after she asked on her show, '"The Ingraham Angle," Monday whether anyone else found Thunberg's speech "chilling." After she played a clip of horror movie "Children of the Corn," about kids who ritually murder adults, Ingram quipped, "I can’t wait for Stephen King’s sequel, 'Children of the Climate.'"
  • Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) was captured on video Tuesday telling a reporter of Thunberg, "She’s articulate, she’s an intelligent woman, young woman, she’s very emotional, she’s very passionate and she’s remarkably ill-informed."

(Reality check: Per NASA, 97% or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: "Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.")

What she's saying: Thunberg tweeted Wednesday, "It seems they will cross every possible line to avert the focus, since they are so desperate not to talk about the climate and ecological crisis. Being different is not an illness and the current, best available science is not — it’s facts."

"I honestly don’t understand why adults would choose to spend their time mocking and threatening teenagers and children for promoting science, when they could do something good instead. I guess they must simply feel so threatened by us. But don’t waste your time giving them any more attention. The world is waking up. Change is coming wether they like it or not. See you in the streets this Friday!"
— Greta Thunberg
  • Thunberg responded to Trump's tweet by briefly changing her bio to his description of her as "a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future." She addressed it in-depth on the Norwegian-Swedish TV production Skavlan, which is due to air in full Friday.

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