But We Knew That: Climate Deniers Also Misogynists

July 10, 2019

If you’re willing to rape Mother Earth, well, that’s just the beginning.
As recent events show, climate denying politicians are heavily over-represented among the ranks of abusers and predators brought to light since the MeToo movement caught fire.

Above, I interviewed Katharine Hayhoe just as she was becoming well known (before Time Magazine named her a top 100 influential). She was already under attack from hateful climate deniers – but she remains unintimidated.

Scientific American:

One scientist was called Climate Barbie.

Another was described as an “ugly fake scientist.” A third had an erect penis drawn on her car window while she was in the field researching sea-level rise.

Such is the life of many female climate scientists in 2018.

All researchers face the risk of being criticized when speaking publicly about their findings. But women in the field describe being attacked based on their gender. They’ve endured insults, sexual taunts and degrading comments about their professional acumen. Most of their harassers use social media, email and the phone for their attacks. But there’s a fear that it could become physical.

Threats of death, rape and other forms of violence have left a number of researchers feeling concerned for their safety. They worry about opening envelopes with handwritten addresses and answering phone calls from unfamiliar numbers. Anonymous emails that try to entice a response cause agitation.

“We get this additional layer of hate mail, and people, I think, find it easier to put us down because we are women, or feel like they have more right in telling us what is right or wrong despite our expertise, which is always frustrating,” said Andrea Dutton, a geologist at the University of Florida and an expert on sea-level rise.

Dutton said she often hesitates to answer the phone after she’s quoted in the media. The feeling can last for days, prompted by harassing attacks in the past from unfamiliar numbers.

One prominent researcher who has spoken about being harassed asked not to be quoted in this article. She worries it would trigger a new wave of trolling. Her concern goes beyond online attacks and hateful phone calls. She’s worried for her safety.

Below, I caught up with Dr. Hayhoe a few months later, and asked her about what it’s like to be a climate scientist in Texas.

The attacks aren’t new. But some scientists say the harassment they’re enduring is becoming more personal, increasingly sexist and less focused on their scientific conclusions. Some suggested that it coincides with rising societal tensions over gender and race, laid bare by President Trump’s political rise.

“There is a huge underlying fear of change, and that’s spawned the whole ‘Make America Great Again,’” said Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University.

“When was America great?” she added. “Back when women were in the kitchen and others knew their place, and so because of that, the whole climate change thing, the whole idea that humans could actually interfere with the planet’s climate and that fossil fuels were the way that we got great way back in the day, that’s what underlies all this, and that’s why there is such a mix between gender and climate denial, because it’s all coming from the same perceived threat to identity, and position and power and rights.”

Online harassers have called her a “sad, little mediocrity,” an “ugly fake scientist” and an “old thin-looking hag.” They’ve gone after Hayhoe for sharing her climate research and for her outreach to the evangelical Christian community.

The verbal and written attacks derive mostly from men. That’s probably not a coincidence. Studies show that climate skepticism is a male-dominated perspective. Men are less likely than women to accept scientific conclusions about people being responsible for rising temperatures. And they’re more likely to overestimate their knowledge of the issue.

Threats aside, some of the most frustrating attacks experienced by Hayhoe are those that denigrate her professionally. Some men talk to her like she’s a “certified, Grade-A idiot,” she said.

“These same men who are sending me all this stuff and telling me I know nothing, that I’m not qualified and that I’m ignorant, if I were one of the top cancer surgeons in the country, at the same level that I’m a climate scientist and they had cancer, I am sure that most but not all of them would be happy to have me operate on them. They wouldn’t be challenging my credentials; they wouldn’t be saying, ‘I know more about natural cycles than you do.’”

Public appearances on national television outlets, in particular, bring waves of hatred for scientists. Kim Cobb, a professor of earth and atmospheric science at Georgia Tech, recently appeared on national news programs to talk about the dangers of climate change. Now she’s being called a liar over email.

Someone on Twitter called her “Climate Barbie 2.0.” There were repeated hang-ups on her voicemail, something she finds particularly disturbing because she’s worried the caller might be unstable. Are they angrily dialing over and over again? Other “pseudo-engagers,” as Cobb calls them, have written to ask seemingly sincere questions about climate change. One of them called her “stupider than a cow” after receiving her thoughtful response.

Cobb said this is the reality for female scientists. She has learned to take the nastiness as an indication that her message is reaching people.

One of the most visible climate scientists in the country, Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, said he sees a difference in how female colleagues are treated. Mann said he has been targeted by people who reject climate change for two decades. He has received death threats, has been mailed white powder, and was targeted by fossil fuel and conservative interest groups to be fired or imprisoned. Still, he sees an extra element of vitriol in the way women in the field are treated.

“I can tell you that there is a very large overlap between those who harbor conspiracy theories about climate science and those who express unenlightened views when it comes to matters of ethnicity and gender,” Mann said. “In short, yeah—a surprisingly large number of climate deniers are misogynists. And so our female colleagues are at the receiving end of a particularly toxic brew of denialism, conspiratorial ideation and misogyny. It is most unfortunate and most disturbing.”


21 Responses to “But We Knew That: Climate Deniers Also Misogynists”

  1. newsandtimes Says:

    this is new level stupidity, i know academics are not known for their intellectualism, but gender and identity politics is causing climate change? logic and reasoning is calling out climate science for their fake, echo chambered research. i know you not going to approve this message…. you sexist hypocrits…lol

  2. jerrydogood Says:

    When you descend into personal attacks on those you disagree with you than you are not talking science, you are talking Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot or any of a whole host of thugs. The science about climate change does not come from God, it comes from people. Some of those people have agendas so distort the data and study to meet the agenda. Some of those people are simply mistaken. Some are correct. Why not advance why you think a course is correct and leave the personal attacks to the thugs.

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    A relevant piece on Daily Kos Morning Digest: ‘Brains, not boobs’: Why the House GOP just failed to add another woman to its ranks”.


    Why any woman ever votes for a Republican is beyond me. Maybe they do it because their husbands order them to, and being good bible-thumpers, they do as they are told (in between cooking, cleaning, and making babies, that is). At the rate the Repugnant Party is going downhill, it would not be a surprise to see them attempt to take the vote away from women in the future, so women DO need to worry. (And women scientists, especially climate scientists need to worry most of all—how DARE they use their brains and speak out!)

  4. doldrom Says:

    Well, I’ve found it’s true that climate denial is mainly a man thing. But enlightened views are no impediment to crossing lines (which, incidentally, have been in place for millennia before the current era) on sexual abuse, so we shouldn’t get too smugly partisan about conservative rule-keepers or enlightened liberals on that score.

  5. newsandtimes Says:

    no wrong, climate change is an emotional issue, not an intellectual nor scientific one. stop these lies and fake articles.

  6. […] via But We Knew That: Climate Deniers Also Misogynists | Climate Denial Crock of the Week […]

  7. dumboldguy Says:

    And another flaming anal orifice crash lands on Crock with much smoke, bad smells, and noise. It calls itself newsandtimes? WTF is that supposed to mean, anyway?

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      The ‘nym reactionarynitwit was taken.

    • newsandtimes Says:

      I am referring the lies of the NWO and global governance. a group of people sit in big office of the UN, in China, in the middle east and makes up fake news all day and tells the media to run with it. everything is click bait and money, to sell solar panels and wind farms and stop people using oil so the demand from other countries is hgher and keep prices up, kinda obvious and climate change makes big traffic.

    • jimbills Says:

      Click on his name and you can read his blog. He covers the news and times from his own unique perspective. Don’t read it while drinking coffee.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        Finding misused apostrophe’s in a blog–especially in the first entry–is an almost infallible sign that the blogger is as ignorant and careless with fact’s as s/he is with splelling and grammer. Non-sequitur illogic and fractal wrongness permeating every statement is a clue, tue, although I have to admit s/he’s right about one thing. I was taken in by the clickbait, and bought a wind farm just last week–1.2 GW worth.

  8. colettebytes Says:

    Sad thing, that women are not seen as authorities on any subject. It might be because women are more caring, considered and measured in their calculations and responses to questioning, than men. Certainly, they are not as aggressive. The biases we see in society are not limited to the area of Climate Change Science, but there is an added bias here of disbelief that we could actually see climate warming trends kill us. This is just so far from the average person’s inherent belief that what happens today, will not affect tomorrow. Our belief systems are the core problem of society and its structure. They are not based on fact, but rather on some misguided principle that we are in charge of our world according to the ancient writings of people’s who have stories of similar misguided principles. Blind leading the blind! For the few who have dared to look outside this box of mirrors, the view is completely shocking.

    • newsandtimes Says:

      you are missing the point, there is no climate change, the whole argument is flawed and a lie and only to get clout as to make it an issue about gender and identity politics? that is insane, not science. woman are better off at making wives, babies, cooks, mothers, why mess with mother nature and say all men are sexist. this is what is breaking western society and it is done by design, by people who want to design the west.

  9. rsmurf Says:

    The misogynists are out in full force! Do you treat your MOTHERS as poorly?

  10. […] made clear the connection between climate denial and racism many times.I’ve also mentioned misogyny, which is more in evidence this week with the arrival of Greta Thunberg in New […]

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