While 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg boats to the US to highlight the climate crisis, people behind keyboards are making jokes about "freak yachting accidents" and her drowning.
Thunberg is currently traveling across the Atlantic to attend United Nations climate change summits in the US and Chile. Thunberg decided to travel by boat instead of airplane to the conference to minimize her own personal CO2 emissions. She was offered a ride on the Malizia II, a racing yacht that uses solar panels to power underwater turbines.
Her father, and a filmmaker who is documenting the trip to raise more awareness of the climate crisis, are joining her on the roughly two-week voyage, which set off from Portsmouth in the UK – where the original Mayflower set sail to the New World in 1620 – yesterday.
So far, so inspiring. Who doesn't like a story of a committed young person fighting for what she believes in, especially when what she believes in happens to be saving the planet?
Well, it turns out the answer is quite a lot of people.
As well as your garden variety climate change deniers, Thunberg has attracted the attention of several high-profile media pundits who are not on board with the scientific consensus that the climate crisis is real, human-made, and needs to be dealt with urgently. She is no stranger to being viciously attacked by people who can't comprehend climate science, and the start of this voyage has been no exception. Several prominent UK media personalities, as well as British businessman and funder of the Leave EU campaign, Arron Banks, went online to mock a teenager for trying to her best to help the planet. Sadly, the attacks are getting personal, and are directed specifically at Thunberg, rather than her mission or reasoning.
Radio personality Julia Hartley-Brewer, who previously criticized climate activist and actor Emma Thompson for flying to a climate change protest, made a joke about Greta Thunberg not taking a plane.
This drew the reaction it probably deserved.
The most controversial of the tweets (if you can stomach them, there are plenty more as Greta Thunberg trends on Twitter) came from Banks, joked about her getting into a yachting "accident" on her way to the summits, which people took as a veiled way of saying he hoped the teenager would die on the trip.
People were quick to point out that if your reaction to a teenager not wanting the planet to die in a century is to joke about how you hope she might die now, you might just be on the wrong side of history.
Banks has since defended his tweet, calling it a joke, and saying that the political Left has no sense of humor – as if his joke was in any way funny.
It has since been criticized by many professional comedians.
Fortunately, none of the vitriol seems to have affected Thunberg, who has spent her time spotting dolphins.