As Hurricane Dorian crept closer to Florida (and another active shooter killed people in Texas) Trump was, yet again, playing golf at his private Virginia club after banging out a few tweets yesterday morning. Trump is the laziest president in modern history, and also the most devoid of empathy. By his own statements and policies, Trump is clearly a tool of the fossil fuel industry and comfortable keeping a dying energy source profitable for a few more years even if it means the beginning of the end of humanity. He would rather signal to his base that he’s a land-raper and climate-polluter–like them–than do anything to stave off the catastrophic warming our planet is experiencing.
As I’ve often written, the GOP under Trump has become not only the party of racism but the party of misogyny. And climate change is yet another example of this. Trump’s aging white male cult grew up in a world and culture where pillaging the Earth for profit was what a real man does. To suggest that we need to take care of our environment has become an affront to their masculinity. Just look at the symbolism of today’s conservatives. The Hummer and the gas guzzling monster truck have become symbols of conservative male power. If you don’t drive one, you’re not part of their club. Some of them even devised the practice of “rolling coal,” where their diesel truck pumps extra gas into the engine to blow out a huge plume of black exhaust, often directed at passing bicyclists, as an F-U to people who might care about nature. The practice has become so widespread and noxious that it has been banned in Colorado, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon and Utah.
Eating meat has also become a masculine symbol for the conservative man. Show them a vegetarian or vegan and their heads practically explode in anger and disdain. Caring for the earth, or fellow creatures, or their own health, is seen as a proof of weakness, which is intolerable to men whose own self-worth and self-esteem are calcified and fragile.
An excellent article in the New Republic by Martin Gelin drove this point home recently. It was titled “The Misogyny of Climate Deniers” and asked “Why do right-wing men hate Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez so much? Researchers have some troubling answers to that question.”
The heart of Gelin’s article is this:
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.’ They see the world as separated between humans and nature. They believe humans are obliged to use nature and its resources to make products out of them. And they have a risk perception that nature will tolerate all types of waste. It’s a risk perception that doesn’t think of nature as vulnerable and as something that is possible to be destroyed. For them, economic growth is more important than the environment” Hultman told Deutsche Welle last year.
The corollary to this is that climate science, for skeptics, becomes feminized—or viewed as “oppositional to assumed entitlements of masculine primacy,” Hultman and fellow researcher Paul Pulé wrote in another paper.
Full link here:
Change is difficult for any human being. But it’s particularly difficult when it requires making sacrifices, which we will surely have to make in the face of an extinction-level threat like climate change. Ideally there will be some positives, like a surge of economic prosperity tied to transformative energy technologies such as solar and geo-thermal. But entire industries will have to be dismantled and their workers transitioned, such as fossil fuel and coal, which will create a lot of disruption. Activities that despoil our environment, like clear-cut logging and long-line fishing and fracking will have to be done away with, forcing their workers to find jobs that will likely require less physical labor and more knowledge–a tough challenge. BUT WE HAVE NO CHOICE. And the longer we wait, the more extreme any viable solution will be.
It’s almost tempting to start advocating for some sort of black list or dis-honor roll of climate deniers to be used when we face severe food or water shortages, or when coastal Florida is swallowed by the sea. People on the list stand at the back of the food line, or get federal help last–because you know that day is coming. You know the day will arrive when some horrible disruptive climate-related catastrophe will be so bad that many deniers will throw in the towel and admit they were wrong. It might not happen anytime soon, but it will come, and it will be hard to have much sympathy for them when it does.
A few weeks ago an article was published by Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs on CNN’s website calling Trump’s climate inaction a “crime against humanity.” Sachs starts the article with guns blazing:
President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and others who oppose action to address human-induced climate change should be held accountable for climate crimes against humanity. They are the authors and agents of systematic policies that deny basic human rights to their own citizens and people around the world, including the rights to life, health, and property. These politicians have blood on their hands, and the death toll continues to rise.
Full article here:
We have to hold our politicians and our citizens responsible for climate inaction. The science is settled. The evidence is mounting. The damages are real. The stakes are huge.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote is ass out of office.”