Fact Check: Did Greta Thunberg Delete Claim That Humanity Will End by 2023?

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has repeatedly courted the criticism of influential conservative politicians and public figures, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former president Donald Trump.

A recent war of words between Thunberg and Andrew Tate was briefly thought to have directly caused the social influencer's arrest in Romania.

Now, the 20-year-old has been called out by right-leaning commentators for allegedly deleting a tweet predicting that five years ago humanity would be wiped out because of its use of fossil fuels.

Getty Images Greta Thunberg Gesture
Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg gestures during a press conference at the COP25 Climate Conference on December 9, 2019, in Madrid, Spain. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

The Claim

Tweets posted by conservative commentators Charlie Kirk, Dinesh D'Souza and Brigitte Gabriel between March 11-12, 2023, which have been viewed cumulatively more than 2.2 million times, claimed Greta Thunberg deleted a tweet posted in 2018 predicting the world would end in 2023.

Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, on March 12, 2023, wrote: "One of the best headlines of the year so far... 'Greta Thunberg deletes 2018 tweet saying world will end in 2023 after world does not end.'"

Filmmaker D'Souza, on March 12, 2023, added: "Climate Radical Greta Thunberg Caught Red Handed: Deletes 2018 Tweet That Says World Will End Without Action by 2023."

Gabriel, founder of ACT for America, on March 11, 2023, also said: "Greta Thunberg deleted this tweet because it exposes her for being a fraud. Make sure the entire world sees it."

The Facts

All of the tweets refer to a screengrab of a message, allegedly posted by Greta Thunberg on June 21, 2018, that stated: "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."

An article by right-leaning news site The Post Millennial, which ran the headline, "Greta Thunberg deletes 2018 tweet saying world will end in 2023 after world does not end," quoted conservative commentator Jack Posobiec as the source of the story.

Posobiec posted a screengrab of Thunberg's tweet, on March 11, 2023, with the message: "Hi @GretaThunberg! Why did you delete this?"

The screengrab of the tweet included a link to an article by the website gritpost.com, "Top Climate Scientist: Humans Will Go Extinct if We Don't Fix Climate Change by 2023."

While the website is no longer online, archived copies of the article Thunberg allegedly tweeted have been saved.

The article, which quotes Harvard professor James Anderson, does not say that humanity will be wiped out in five years, however.

Anderson, a world-famous climate expert who pioneered research that led to a global ban on industrial gas chlorofluorocarbons, was quoted saying that all fossil fuel use should be stopped by 2023 to protect the Earth's remaining polar ice.

What is confusing here is that the gritpost.com article doesn't accurately summarize the quotes from Anderson. Anderson is not quoted (at least not in the article) saying that humanity would be wiped out, but rather that continued use of fossil fuels could cause irreversible damage to the polar ice caps.

Other articles, such as by Earth.com and Forbes (the latter of which appears to be gritpost.com's primary source), report Anderson's comments more closely to what he was quoted as saying.

Claiming that the Earth could return to a state like that of the Eocene Epoch more than 33 million years ago, when there was no ice on either pole, Forbes reported that Anderson said: "We have exquisite information about what that state is because we have a paleo record going back millions of years, when the earth had no ice at either pole.

"There was almost no temperature difference between the equator and the pole.

"The ocean was running almost 10ºC warmer all the way to the bottom than it is today and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere would have meant that storm systems would be violent in the extreme, because water vapor, which is an exponential function of water temperature, is the gasoline that fuels the frequency and intensity of storm systems."

Forbes summarized other comments Anderson made, such as how recovery would be impossible without committing to a "World War II-style transformation of industry—an acceleration of the effort to halt carbon pollution and remove it from the atmosphere, and a new effort to reflect sunlight away from the earth's poles."

Aside from the deleterious impact that the disappearance of the ice caps would have on natural life at the North Pole and Antarctica, sea levels across the world would rise significantly.

The U.S. Geological Survey has said that if the full volume of glaciers and ice caps on Earth melted, global sea levels would rise approximately 70 meters and flood every coastal city on the planet.

A copy of Anderson's speech is not available online to corroborate whether these changes would have an annihilative effect, as the article Thunberg is thought to have quoted said.

However, the claim that Thunberg deleted the tweet recently because the world has not ended this year is clearly misleading. Even if the original article Thunberg quoted may have misrepresented Anderson's comments, it did not claim (and nor did Anderson) that the world would end by 2023.

Newsweek has contacted Greta Thunberg, Charlie Kirk, ACT for America, and Dinesh D'Souza via representatives for comment.

The Ruling



The tweet that Thunberg allegedly sent referenced an article that did not say the world would end by 2023.

The article, which is no longer online, did inaccurately reference quotes from climate expert Professor James Anderson, who said in 2018 that unless the world stopped using fossil fuels by 2023, the effect on the polar ice caps would be irreversible.

While none of Anderson's quotes (at least those online) state that humanity would be wiped out, it is also inaccurate to claim that Thunberg's tweet or the article she referenced said the world was going to end this year.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek's Fact Check team

False: The claim is demonstrably false. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be false.
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