The misogyny of climate change denial


The obverse of the intersectionality of victimhood is the intersectionality of perpetration:

In other words, those who don’t believe in catastrophic (hu)man-made climate change (“the climate emergency”) are also patriarchal misogynists. While not expressly mentioned, chances are they are also far right racist and homophobic bigots. The yin of the oppressed virtue needs the yang of the oppressive evil.

In case you were wondering, Nobel Women are “Women Nobel Laureates united to increase the power and visibility of women’s groups working globally for peace, justice and equality.” If there was a Nobel prize for wokeness, Nobel Women would win it hands down. Though if they were serious, Nobel Women – and individual women Nobel laureates – should as a matter of principle refuse any awards named after and funded from the bequest by a dead white male merchant of death.

The article itself is as ridiculous as the tweet (apologies in advance for my clear and obvious patriarchal misogyny):

Climate skeptic Bjørn Lomborg has built his global brand on keeping his cool. “Cool it,” his best-selling book told those worried about the warming planet. For some reason, however, he seems to have difficulty sticking to the blasé tone when it comes to a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden.

Lomborg has repeatedly mocked and criticized Greta Thunberg, the prominent young activist who has been sailing across the Atlantic to attend the UN’s Youth Climate Summit and other meetings in the U.S. In June, he tweeted out a cartoon that implied Greta was only useful to climate activists because being young made her unassailable—in four years, it joked, she’d be replaced with someone younger still. Earlier in the year, he’d asked why the World Economic Forum was listening to her at all, and approvingly shared a Quillette article which called Thunberg a fanatic and “absolutist” and which argued adults had a duty to correct her childlike naiveté.

And Lomborg’s on the more civil end of Thunberg’s critics. In April, while tweeting that her policies were “unrealistic” and “costly,” he added that, “of course, she should be treated respectfully, just like all participants in the climate debate.” Several of his followers didn’t seem to care for the caveat, attacking Thunberg with comments about her age and mental health in replies.

And so on. This is not to say that some commentary about Thunberg (and Ocasio-Cortez) isn’t indeed overwrought and in bad taste, but what Nobel Women call “harassment” that these “climate leaders” have to “endure”, most people would describe as criticism that every person in a public role is regularly subjected to as a part and parcel of their advocacy. People have difference – about ideas, arguments, attitudes, presentation – but to posit that to disagree with and criticise women is a form of misogyny – or that such disagreement and criticism is wholly or mainly motivated by the hatred of women – is a disingenuous and dishonest tactic, essentially designed to make everyone else sit down and shut up. This is a debating equivalent of using human shields.

It’s difficult not to think that at least in some cases it’s an entirely conscious tactic. Take Thunberg, for example; a 16-year old girl with Asperger syndrome, obsessive–compulsive disorder and selective mutism, who with her trademark braids and tomboyish casual wear looks younger than she is. Criticise her in any way and you’re told that you are an asshole for picking on a child with mental conditions. But like many activists on either side of the debate, Thunberg does not have any educational or professional background in science as it pertains to climate research. Her only qualification is in fact her political activism and enthusiasm (neither particularly unique); the fact that, as her mother says, she “sees CO2” does not exactly encourage confidence, while the authoritarian measures she favours to combat climate change put her on the far-left of the spectrum of policy responses and prescriptions.

Just as it does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a slightly older, self-confessed socialist with a dearth of life and work experience, who seems to have at best a very limited understanding of politics, economics and the world in general (being mystified, among other things, by a garbage disposal unit in a kitchen sink). Her “Green New Deal” is a melange of the uncosted and the ridiculous that would quickly ruin any industrialised society stupid enough to try it.

Perhaps if you want less criticism (sorry, harassment) you might want to pick more credible “climate leaders”.

But back to science and the “demonstrable link between climate denial & misogyny”:

…the idea that white men would lead the attacks on Greta Thunberg is consistent with a growing body of research linking gender reactionaries to climate-denialism—some of the research coming from Thunberg’s own country. Researchers at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology, which recently launched the world’s first academic research center to study climate denialism, have for years been examining a link between climate deniers and the anti-feminist far-right.

In 2014, Jonas Anshelm and Martin Hultman of Chalmers published a paper analyzing the language of a focus group of climate skeptics. The common themes in the group, they said, were striking: “for climate skeptics … it was not the environment that was threatened, it was a certain kind of modern industrial society built and dominated by their form of masculinity.”

The connection has to do with a sense of group identity under threat, Hultman told me—an identity they perceive to be under threat from all sides. Besieged, as they see it, both by developing gender equality—Hultman pointed specifically to the shock some men felt at the #MeToo movement—and now climate activism’s challenge to their way of life, male reactionaries motivated by right-wing nationalism, anti-feminism, and climate denialism increasingly overlap, the three reactions feeding off of one another.

“There is a package of values and behaviors connected to a form of masculinity that I call ‘industrial breadwinner masculinity.’

“A certain kind of modern industrial society” is pretty much the kind that has created the unparalleled prosperity and progress in just about every area of human endeavour; a world where overwhelmingly more people (in both absolute and relative terms) enjoy longer, healthier and richer lives than ever before and than anyone could have ever imagined. So maybe some people – those suffering from the “industrial breadwinner masculinity” – are indeed somewhat concerned about radical policy proposals by people like Thunberg and Ocasio-Cortez, which seek to curtail personal freedoms as well as economic growth, which in itself is the surest predictor of better environmental stewardship as well as the scientific and technological ability to better meet any worldly challenges such as climate change (if you don’t believe a fascist like me regarding this whole paragraph, I recommend you read “Enlightenment Now” by Steven Pinker, a scientist, leftist and climate change believer).

Nothing is perfect and we should always strive to improve, but our modern, democratic, liberal, capitalist world has been hell of a lot better than any past and present alternatives. If to point out that it’s currently under a sustained attack from intersectionalists, socialists, third wave feminists, cultural relativists, identity politics practitioners, deep greens and others, and to try to defend it from such radical attacks, makes one a misogynist, racist, reactionary, far right nationalist bigot, then well, I’ll just have to enlarge my business card.