Robin Padilla drew flak when he criticized teen activists Greta Thunberg, Boyan Slat

October 18, 2019 - 10:10 AM
Climate change rally in Denver, Colorado
Swedish teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg speaks as people take part in a climate change rally in Denver, Colorado, U.S. Oct. 11, 2019. (Reuters/Rick Wilking)

Robin Padilla criticized youth activist Greta Thunberg and compared her with Dutch inventor Boyan Slat despite them being on the same page in reducing the effects of pollution.

Thunberg had been making headlines since she started the global strike to call on authorities to take action on the worsening environmental crisis in 2018.

Despite the clear intention of curbing climate change, the teenager has been poked fun at and criticized online mostly due to her being ill with Asperger’s and her massive influence.

Padilla made a remark on Instagram with a photo of Thunberg juxtaposed it with that of Slat’s.

“Kadalasan may malinaw ng solusyon pero ang nabibigyan ng pansin ng karamihan ay negatibo, galit at inggit hanggang sa makalimutan na lang ang mga taong katulad ng batang si Boyan Slat at ng great inventor na si Nikola Tesla,” read part of his post on October 7.

“Sadya yatang kapag walang negosyo ang isang makatao at makakalikasan na invention ay itatago ito at paglilipasan na lang ng panahon ano na nga ba ang nangyari sa tao at ang kanilang pag iisip at katwiran,” he added.

The photo also included a few details about them suggesting he perceived Slat contributed more to help the environment than Thunberg.

What Padilla missed is that Thunberg and Slat basically have the same goals for the environment. They only took different paths due to various circumstances in their surroundings and upbringing, however, these do not make one person less useful than the other.

Such was pointed out by some users who called him out for his post on Reddit.

Reddit user @redkinoko wrote that Thunberg is only a high schooler when she started her strike while Slat was already in college.

“You’re comparing a highschooler with a college graduate. Sure he came up with the idea when he was 16, but was it actionable already at that time? They can both do what they’re doing for the environment. If doctors are the ones prescribing the medicine, are the triage nurses who screen that patient less useful?” the user said.

Comment 1 on Greta vs Boyan
Screenshot by Interaksyon

Another user @CocoAnnie likewise corrected Padilla that Thunberg’s message is not for her to be the solution, rather, it’s for world leaders to provide the solutions.

“Her entire message is that world leaders should be the ones providing solution so that she, and all children like her, can enjoy their childhood in a healthy manner. She’s saying that world leaders should give attention and funding to people like Boyan Slat and his solution,” the user said.

Screenshot by Interaksyon

Rise of young environmentalists

Thunberg recently led the ambitious Global Climate Strike, which the Philippines took part in, from September 20 to 27.

She started this movement on her own by skipping school every Friday and sat down outside the Swedish Parliament with the sign “Skolstrejk for Klimatet” (School Strike for Climate).

Slat, now 25 years old, was recognized for designing the world’s first ocean plastic cleanup system and found his own company The Ocean Cleanup at 18 years old.

Saving the oceans from plastic waste was Slat’s goal since he was 16.

Other teenage activists who have been active in conserving the environment in their own countries are the Lumad representatives in the Philippines, Nina Gualinga in Ecuador, Wangari Maathai in Kenya and Ridhima Pandey in India.