The Weekend Wonk: Climate Denial and Misogyny

June 26, 2022

We knew that climate deniers were also misogynists, and I’ve posted on it over the years, but they keep making it even more clear.
In a week where women’s rights have been set back 100 years, and on the eve of what everyone assumes will be an equally disastrous ruling against the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases (or anything else), time to review why all this goes together, and none of it is a surprise.

Above, my first interview with Katherine Hayhoe in 2012.

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.

New Republic:

While these examples might feel like mere coincidence to some, 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.

Republican candidate “RJ” Regan lost a primary in West Michigan after his Fatherly advice to his daughters about rape went viral. His tweet above underlines the climate denial that went along with his fear and hatred of women.

Bridge (Michigan):

LANSING — A Michigan Republican House candidate under fire for saying he told his daughters “if rape is inevitable, you should just lie back and enjoy it” claims he’s only guilty of using a bad analogy.

Robert “RJ” Regan of Grand Rapids, who is favored to win the solidly Republican 74th District in west Michigan after an upset in a special election last week, made the remark during a livestream Sunday hosted by a conservative group, The Coalition to Rescue Michigan, about his pursuit to decertify the 2020 presidential election.

He told Bridge Michigan on Monday that his remark only meant that “nothing is inevitable.”

“Sometimes, my words aren’t as smooth and polished as the politicians are because I’m not a politician. I’m working on it,” Regan said. “The only reason the (politically) left trolls attack you is because they know you’re directly over the target, dropping direct hits on an issue. If you’re not scoring hits, they leave you alone.”

Both Democrats and Republicans, however, are condemning Regan for his comments, as well as statements calling the Ukraine war a “fake war just like the fake pandemic.” He has also questioned the legitimacy of the coronavirus pandemic and shared a meme claiming that feminism is “a Jewish program to degrade and subjugate white men.” 

Follow up interview with Hayhoe in 2014.

Finally, I’ll include this video from Meidastouch, simply because it is so brilliantly chilling and timely.


One Response to “The Weekend Wonk: Climate Denial and Misogyny”

  1. J4Zonian Says:


    Projection is what all these things have in common; people unable or unwilling to tolerate their own traits so they disown them & imagine they exist in other people, aspects of nature, & concepts. Class & religious prejudice, misogyny, rac- & all the other isms, political dichotomizing…

    While the underlying causes of the need to project so violently vary, they’re all treatable psychotherapeutically. Though some of the conditions have no cure, they can at least be alleviated, & identifying those afflicted may convince them to get out of politics & stop or reduce their aggression. But we need to recognize that whatever personal, structural/institutional, & other reasons & reinforcing factors there are, the cause of all our problems are psychological, & without addressing that effectively we’ll fail to solve them.

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