(Bloomberg) -- A young, long-haired, European activist passionately addressed climate change before a crowd of supporters in Maryland on Friday.
But it wasn’t Greta Thunberg.
Instead, it was Naomi Seibt, a 19-year-old self-styled “climate realist” from Germany who used her debut speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference to decry what she called “climate alarmists” who are “fear mongering and using panic as a tool to restrict our freedoms.”
Seibt has picked up some 60,000 followers on YouTube where she shares her view that the Earth’s rising temperature is nothing to panic over, and she’s being promoted as the “anti-Greta” by the Heartland Institute, an Illinois-based think tank that advocates free markets and questions climate science. Seibt addressed about 100 conservatives in a Heartland-sponsored session at the CPAC conference on Friday.
Heartland leaders passed out black t-shirts emblazoned with Seibt’s image and her signature catch phrase: “I don’t want you to panic. I want you to think.”
“The climate has always been changing, and so it’s ridiculous to say we deny climate change,” Seibt said Friday. “Man vastly overestimates his power if he thinks he can, with CO2 emissions, destroy the climate.”
Seibt dismissed allegations she is being used by climate skeptics to woo young people and counter Thunberg, the Swedish activist who has won international acclaim for arguing the world needs to rapidly throttle the greenhouse gas emissions fueling a warming world. “I am not the puppet of the right wing or the climate deniers or the Heartland Institute either,” Seibt said.
Seibt’s rise as the young face of climate skeptics has drawn scrutiny of her past remarks. On Friday, video circulated of Seibt’s remarks after a shooting at a German synagogue. “The normal German consumer is at the bottom, so to speak. Then the Muslims come somewhere in between. And the Jew is at the top. That is the suppression characteristic,” she said in comments first reported by The Guardian.
Seibt said her remarks were taken out of context and she was just expressing her view it is “wrong to comment on different races differently and view them differently.”
On stage, Seibt said she’d welcome a “casual conversation” with Thunberg. “I wouldn’t want to debate her on the science,” she added, “because I don’t want to destroy her.”
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