We came across the following article on the website Gateway Pundit:
A Prophecy Retracted?
The article reports that Greta Thunberg ‘delete(d) (a) 2018 tweet proclaiming (the) world would end in 2023’ because the year 2023 had arrived and she had been proven ‘a fraud’ for being wrong.
These assertions were repeated by numerous conservative commentators on Twitter, such as Dinesh D’Souza, Jack Posobiec, Charlie Kirk and Brigitte Gabriel.
In the tweet by Greta Thunberg cited by Gateway Pundit and the conservative commentators, Thunberg says that ‘a top climate scientist is warning that climate change will wipe out all of humanity unless we stop using fossil fuels over the next five years’.
Thunberg’s tweet also contains a link to an article titled, ‘Top Climate Scientist: Humans Will Go Extinct if We Don’t Fix Climate Change by 2023’ on Grit Post, a US-based news and opinion site that covered ‘stories that affect American workers and their communities’.
When we tried to locate the original tweet by Thunberg and the Grit Post article, we found that the tweet could no longer be accessed on Twitter and that Grit Post had shuttered its site.
We were able to locate the tweet and the article using the internet archival tool Wayback Machine. Wayback Machine indicated that the tweet had still been online on 7 March and at that time was attracting comments from detractors. However, it was no longer available by 13 March. It is therefore true that Thunberg’s tweet about the article had been deleted.
What Did the Scientist Really Say?
A closer reading of the archived Grit Post article reveals that it and Thunberg’s tweet had been mischaracterised by the Gateway Pundit. The article quotes James Anderson, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at Harvard University, who states that climate change is pushing Earth back to a time when there was no ice on either pole.
According to Grit Post, Anderson states that measures taken by 2018—when the article was published—were insufficient to stop the extinction of humanity by way of a rapidly changing climate. He also calls for extreme measures to transition off fossil fuels completely by 2023.
2023, therefore, was Anderson’s suggested timeline for radical action to combat climate, rather than suggesting humanity would be destroyed by then. Gateway Pundit and the conservative commentators therefore appear, intentionally or otherwise, to have conflated the two separate points and directed their criticism at Thunberg as a result of this false reading.
It is also possible that Grit Post’s reporting is sensationalised. Grit Post does not provide a direct quote from Anderson where he mentions the extinction of humanity. In two other articles reporting on Anderson’s speech on Earth.com and Forbes, which are still available to read, Anderson is quoted warning of climate catastrophes and irreversible climate change effects. However, he is never quoted warning of humanity’s extinction.
The difference between the headline on Grit Post (above) and Forbes (below) can be seen in the images above.
An Invented Controversy
It must be noted that Gateway Pundit is an unreliable source of information. Media Bias/Fact Check, an independent website which promotes public awareness of media bias and deceptive news practices, rates Gateway Pundit as having low credibility, and in 2021 found it to have failed factchecks on a near-daily basis.
While Grit Post’s reporting may have been exaggerated—reflected in Thunberg’s interpretation of the scientist’s views, there is no evidence of Thunberg suggesting that the world would end in 2023.
This claim has also been factchecked and found to be false by Newsweek.
The claim made by Gateway Pundit and the conservative commentators, that Greta Thunberg deleted a tweet that said the world would end in 2023, is therefore false.