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Admit It, Greta Thunberg Is A Spoiled Brat

The initial, and certainly correct, reaction to 16-year-old climate change advocate Greta Thunberg’s screed at a United Nations event the other day: disgust at the way her parents and other adults are shamelessly using her, as colorfully articulated on these pages, as “a human shield for global warming alarmists.”

But there’s another aspect of her performance (and it was indeed a performance, both highly staged, scripted and rehearsed, and stuffed chockfull of media soundbites and ready-made headlines) that is equally acceptable to assert.

Miss Thunberg is, in her own right, a spoiled brat.

Despite her youth and reported autism diagnosis, the demand for hands-off treatment of Greta and — let’s call it what it is — the outright, downright rudeness and insolence she displayed in New York is yet another highly public exhibit in the downward spiral of manners and protocol that plagues society today.

There was a darn good reason your parents told you when you were growing up to “respect your elders.” To give deference to people in authority. And to honor the office even if you didn’t care for or agree with the man or woman who held it.

Those lessons were not only questions of proper comportment. They reflected basic common sense.

As dazzlingly smart and well-read and charismatically articulate as you might be at 16, until you’ve lived a bit you don’t know what you don’t know. Even if you have consorted with the world’s high and mighty, are celebrated as a savant, and have been nominated for a Nobel Prize.

Having graduated from the School of Hard Knocks and/or been “mugged by reality” does a lot to soften perspectives. And also helps the literal “adults in the room,” if not to fully separate fact from fiction, at least to apply a healthy dose of cynicism to the utter certainties of straight-up Kool-Aid gulpers.

Moreover, complete disdain for authority and for the ordered institutions of society is a recipe for chaos and breakdown.

“Speak truth to power?” Perfectly cool. It’s 100% appropriate to call leaders’ actions or behavior into question when their actions are wrongheaded or corrupt. And even to write biting and satirical opinion about them, as it is rumored that some are wont to do.

Unquestioned abuse? Not so much.

In a free society at least, leaders have at a minimum the patina of legitimacy from the consent of the governed. It’s decidedly not OK to raise oneself up as a form of higher authority, with neither qualification nor public assent, condescending to duly empowered officials.

Someone has to run things, and assenting to having public servants, no matter how seemingly unworthy, subjected to open, public contempt — by children, no less — can only sap their ability to do so.

There’s a line. And Mamsell Greta hurdled over it.

The adolescent’s substance, of course, was laughable, especially coming from a high schooler who admitted she should be back in school in her homeland.

“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction….” Oh, yeah? Which “people?” Which “ecosystems?” Who or what is going massively extinct?

“The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees, and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.” No kidding? And where’s the peer-reviewed research you did on the subject in, say middle school?

But much more objectionable was her tone, as described in coverage of the event: “World leaders … were reprimandedblastedscoldedaccusedrailed against.”

By a kid.

In the day, if a youngster had sassed her parents or a teacher the way this little whippersnapper dissed global dignitaries, she would have been grounded for a month or sent straight to the principal’s office. (If not introduced to the business end of a paddle or, in personal experience, wooden spoon.)

The Swedish teen’s behavior surely wouldn’t have been indulged, much less celebrated. And even though she is being exploited as a tool of the global green monster, it shouldn’t be excused either. She’s a child, and yes, said to be on the autism spectrum — but still old enough, and clearly functional enough, to know better and be held responsible for her own actions.

She should hardly be — again, to quote the brethren here — lifted upon a pedestal, green or otherwise. More like taken over someone’s knee.

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Bob Maistros

Bob Maistros, a messaging and communications strategist and crisis specialist, is of counsel with Strategic Action Public Affairs, and was chief writer for the Reagan-Bush ’84 campaign, three U.S. Senators, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at


  • I don’t know if it’s necessary to pick on this kid in a harsh way. She has a disability. She is outdoorsy & has concern for a clean environment. I do think she is being exploited because the far left is down to their last apple on what avenue they can exploit to either set America back, punish some sector in America by fine or taxation, or take from Peter to pay Paul. She does not have the foundation of earth science courses to simply blame climate on co2 while leaving out China. Most of us in the field would simply say climate is a complex phenomena with a number for forcings. Most of it is natural, there might be some anthropogenic forcing but not enough to say a molecule created weather.

    • All of your points are well-taken, which is another reason why 16-year-olds shouldn’t be lecturing world leaders in public with such moral certainty.

  • Can we discuss the science here, and not just trash this little girl? It is real and it is important you know what is happening, because you do not get it here.

    Someone take the challenge and let’s discuss it.

    • Plenty of places to discuss the science, of which I am not an expert. I do consider a little more knowledgeable about appropriate discourse. Teenagers should not be trotted out in public to criticize world leaders. And should not be indulged in bratty language and comportment.

  • Excellent article, I appreciate calling a spade a spade. Her prognostications are based upon flawed data, models, analyses, etc. and she is old enough to be held accountable for her behavior regardless of those influencing her. A+ article.

    • In which case, don’t put her on the stage where she’s entirely legitimately a focus of criticism. She and her family can’t have it both ways.

  • Thunberg’s insolence was breathtaking, and nobody should be celebrating her brattish performance at the UN. Her parents should be ashamed of themselves for putting her in this position for their own selfish ends; the people behind the scenes who pulled the puppet strings to get her there; and even those who believe that climate change is real and needs real solutions beyond what the private jet-hopping classes would like “the little people” to do, should be absolutely horrified that the discussion will now be derailed by the barely-sensible ramblings of a child whose ideas haven’t even been able to be tempered by highschool diploma-levels of thought capacity. The only people who won by this sour-faced juvenile’s antics are the media who I’m sure sold lots of ad space commenting upon her loutish performance.

    • Truly disgraceful that people thought it appropriate for this child to adopt the approach she did. Even more so that she should subsequently be praised for it! She would do better to return to her privileged bubble and rich family, and finish her education first of all. Then perhaps she would be taken more seriously, and not seen as a know-it-all little brat.

  • Greta Thunberg is a spoiled immature brat who thinks she can behave disrespectfully to her elders. She is egotistical and I refuse to listen her bratty childish’s not cute Greta. Grow up. How dare you behave so insolent. How dare you.

    • Speaking from my 77 years of Asperger’s, “good manners” can sometimes be conceived as a weakness. (Trump!) Greta believes her Asperger’s is her “superpower.” Placed in the context of the fanatical environmentalism drummed into her during her short life it makes sense. I would hope to see a bit more sympathy and understanding in place of bashing her for the outworking of autism, a condition she didn’t choose. I see her more as an immature, misguided prophetess than a spoiled brat. Just sayin’….

      • Fine, whatever helps her sleep at night; but is not that same ‘belief’ the bolster for her misguided approach to addressing world leaders? I believe so. Time will tell whether or not she ‘prophesied’ correctly; until that time comes, she ought to think about a more effective- and less offensive- manner of presenting her concerns for the consideration of others, lest she be dismissed out of hand by all those save her existing adherents.

  • Well done for speaking the truth—Greta Thunberg is a spoiled brat, brainwashed by Marxist teachers and handlers. She’s not autistic, disabled or any of the other “syndromes” used to conceal Bad Parenting. She’s also a manipulative, cunning brat, who forced her feeble parents to go vegan by sulking, refusing to speak to them for months until they did. She will be 17 years old in three months time, a year off graduating from high school, yet she deliberately uses her hair and clothes to project the image of a 5-year-old. And it works, deceiving the world.

  • Greta’s entire campaign began as a tantrum and one that could have ended her life. She started feeling doom and gloom upon reading about the planet and climate change as a child. This became a point of fixation for her and she stopped talking and eating…for two months and could have died. Once she started eating again, it was pancakes filled with rice pudding and if the container had a label on it she would not eat. Her mother stopped singing opera on tour because Greta said plane fumes were bad for the planet. She started skipping school to sit in front of parliament alone. Pictures went viral, a non-profit picked her up (later they parted ways), and the rest is history. She has been pushed on the public and we had no choice in the matter.

    Asperger’s, as far as I am concerned, is a personality type at best and a personality disorder at worst. To align it with autism is a gross exaggeration in my opinion. Her diagnosis is being used to excuse any behavior issues she might display in the public eye and to deflect criticism for her ‘activism’. This was planned. It seems she appeals to very common, basic white women who see themselves in her: delicate and bratty with an eating disorder. Greta has not done anything but give speeches and sit outside with a sign because she is not capable of doing anything. This too appeals to basic women who require praise and attention for just existing. Despite her diagnosis, her parents do not need to indulge every quirk and meltdown. Her sister is equally neurotic and spoiled. Years ago, things like hysteria plagued upper class white women and the cure was sitting still in silence. Years before that, hysterical European women were called witches and killed. Today, hysterical women are hailed as feminist or activists.

    Greta goes to a special needs school and she would have missed class anyway given her meltdowns and problems. There are kids and teens actually doing something or surviving against the odds who are better activists and attention should be spread evenly among the thousands that exist. Ex: Little Miss Flint is surviving the water crisis and can communicate what she sees, hears, does, and knows to the outside in order to bridge awareness and help. There are kids and teens recycling thousands of cans, planting thousands of trees, tending to bees, winning science fairs or robotics meets. Greta can’t do these things because she is special needs and she is living a comfortable life in Sweden. Therefore, she is being praised for literally no reason. She has skipped the line over all these other American kids because why?

    I do believe that human industry is destroying the planet at a faster rate than pre-industrial and pre-colonial times. There are actual holes in the o-zone layer (and yes the ozone can repair itself) but, if the same problems keep persisting, that process can be hindered and more holes could form. I lived in the South Pacific for three years and I felt the difference because the air pollution drifts downward to the southern pole and there is at least one hole down there. The sun has no barrier and is directly warming the Earth from the starting point of the hole. Antarctica is melting. Oceans are filled with plastic. Etc. This kind of destruction is happening rapidly.

    We have only had drive-up windows for one generation and millions of people a day sit idle in their cars waiting for a burger not to mention the people sitting in traffic. What if we eliminated drive-up windows across America because customers put the pressure on these companies to stop? What if we all boycotted drive-up windows for a whole week? We could quickly eliminate a tiny fraction of air pollution right now, and a huge amount of pollution for the future, by sacrificing a bit of American convenience. Greta cannot come up with a plan like this at all. Even her boat hoax was not a practical plan for international travel.

    There is only benefit from drastically changing our lifestyles and pressuring companies to change their practices and voting for leaders who will enact policies to protect the planet. Greta has nothing to do with any of that. I wish her well, but she needs to go back home and work on herself a bit more. More importantly, we do not need a singular ‘face’ or poster child for environmental activism.

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