Last month, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist, excoriated world leaders for their ongoing failure to address the climate crisis. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she said at one point during her speech at the United Nations. Thunberg has been galvanizing public support for climate action since rising to prominence with her school strike about a year ago, and her latest remarks are no exception. They’ve attracted millions of views all around the internet—and nearly as many strong opinions. The praise and scorn she received in the aftermath of her address spotlights not only the power and intricacy of moral language, but also its ability, when articulated in a sound argument, to change public opinion on contentious moral and political issues.
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