Salon Calls Climate Skeptics Sexist

Salon proves the point that Greta Thunberg is being elevated as an expert on climate change–testifying before the US congress–because she can’t be criticized. According to Salon, criticizing Thunberg or Ocasio-Cortez is sexist: Misogyny, meet hypocrisy: Climate deniers go after AOC, Greta Thunberg with sexist attacks.

Climate change may not seem like a gendered issue, but leave it to conservatives to inject sexism into everything they do.

It is Salon and other defenders of Thunberg who are making this a gender issue. The climate doesn’t affect men and women differently.

That much was made evident on Thursday, when the right-wing Media Research Center tweeted out a video of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., talking about the need for rapid decarbonization to prevent catastrophic environmental changes due to climate change. The video is labeled “Shallow Thoughts” and treacly music is played behind it, in order to indicate how viewers are meant to read this video, which is as an indictment of Ocasio-Cortez’s intelligence.

Ocasio-Cortez does have an incredibly simplistic and ludicrously alarmist take on global warming. If her stated opinion is not a carefully crafted political maneuver, I would agree that it reflects poorly on her intelligence. How that is evidence of sexism is unclear. Men certainly don’t hold a monopoly on stupidity.

Despite the heavy-handed presentation, if a viewer actually listens to what Ocasio-Cortez is saying, it’s quite clear she’s making a cogent and intelligent case, and understands the actual scientific evidence far better than her detractors.

Given that she predicted that global warming would lead to the end of the world in 12 years, I’d say her understanding of the actual scientific evidence appears to be nonexistent.

It’s equally clear that Media Research Center doesn’t expect its conservative audience to actually listen to what she’s saying. Instead, sexist stereotypes are doing the heavy lifting here. Ocasio-Cortez is young, female and pretty, and as such, the target audience for this video is predisposed  to think of her as a bimbo, and is ready to write off anything she says as dumb lady yapping, without bothering to absorb the actual contents of her speech.

Why would anyone listen to what this former bartender has to say about global warming? At least listen to Bill Nye, who as an aeronautical engineer has a science background. Better yet, go read the IPCC reports.The fact that Salon assumes that people think Ocasio-Cortez is stupid because she’s young, female, or pretty shows that they are sexist. No reason beyond her ignorance is needed.

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, arrived in New York Wednesday for a speech at the United Nations greeted by a wave of misogynist nastiness, largely coming from allegedly grown men in both Europe and the United States. The attacks on Thunberg were in the same vein as those on Ocasio-Cortez, accusing her of being too stupid to know what she’s talking about and denying that her voice is one worth honoring.

Thunberg seems only to urge that politicians listen to scientists. This is a mere appeal to authority. Given that she doesn’t have a Ph.D. in climate science, why is she worth listening to? Arguing that we shouldn’t listen to a 16 year old political activist is not sexism.

A writer for the conservative Washington Examiner claimed that Thunberg is a victim of “child abuse” and that her mother “pimps their kid out,” explicitly drawing a line between forced sex work and climate activism.

What? Clearly pimping a child out for attention has nothing to do with forced sex work.

These kinds attacks have no basis in fact. Thunberg’s views on climate change align with those of better than 97% of climate scientists.

Ah, the old 97% of scientists chestnut. It’s like the wage gap. No matter how many times it’s debunked, morons still repeat it. For its full debunking, see climate scientist Richard Tol’s article Global warming consensus claim does not stand up.

Thunberg is no helpless puppet, but a sharp and remarkably passionate young person who has sparked an international youth movement of climate activism with millions of participants. In order to give weight to these attacks, these critics rely on stereotypes painting women, especially young women, as infantile and idiotic. Without this kind of misogyny, they’d have nothing.

Thunberg is not a credible authority on climate science, whatever her achievements as an activist. Pointing this out is not misogyny. Calling anyone who disagrees with you a misogynist shows the world that you don’t have a valid argument, and must stoop to ad hominem attacks.

“While these examples might feel like mere coincidence to some,”  Martin Gelin at the New Republic argues, “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.”

Smearing climate skeptics as “gender reactionaries” is a low tactic. Real scientists are skeptical. We look at evidence. If you don’t bring any, you don’t get a seat at the table.

Indeed, the evidence Gelin cites shows that sexism is probably fueling climate denialism. Researchers Jonas Anshelm and Martin Hultman of Chalmers found that sexists saw climate change activism as part of a larger group of social changes — including feminism — that threatens “a certain kind of modern industrial society built and dominated by their form of masculinity.”

Feminist neo-marxist social “scientists” complain about masculinity. What a shock.

There’s another reason that climate-change denialists so readily turn to sexism: They don’t really have anything else to work with.

There’s a reason that climate activists so readily turn to ad hominem attacks: They don’t really have anything else to work with.

The scientific evidence is overwhelmingly clear: The climate crisis is real, and mostly caused by human activity. Morally, the position of denialists is indefensible, because their chosen path — to do nothing or worse yet, increase greenhouse gas output — will harm not just future generations, but ordinary people around the world who currently suffering from increasingly extreme weather events.

Global warming is real. Some of it is natural, some of it man made. We do not know that it is “mostly caused by human activity”. As Moody analytics found (see Global Warming: Crisis? What Crisis?), the worse climate change is, the better off Canada will be, and even in the worst case, the economic impact on the US will be nearly break even. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2019 (in Global Warming and Hurricanes), it is premature to conclude  that human greenhouse gas emissions have had a detectable impact on hurricane activity.

To be certain, it’s not just women who have been targeted with these tactics. For a long time, former Vice President Al Gore, who was the strongest and earliest advocate for fighting climate change during his time in Congress, was a regular target of ad hominem attacks from climate denialists looking for any reason to talk about something other than science and morality. They’d call him fat. They’d call him crazy. They’d suggest he was just making it up to get attention.

It’s hard to defend Gore when on January 26, 2006 the Washington Post stated Al “believes humanity may have only 10 years left to save the planet from turning into a total frying pan.” 10 years on, in 2016, the earth had warmed slightly, but it hardly seems to have reached the “point of no return tipping point” that Gore predicted.

But those attacks on Gore, it’s worth noting, all involved feminizing him to some degree. Which is to say that “fat,” “attention whore” and “crazy” are all standard ways for sexists to dismiss the opinions of women. The ur-attack on Gore, going back to the ’80s, has been to call him effeminate.

The ur-attack on Gore is that he claimed to have invented the Internet.

Having cast Gore in the role of a woman, it was easy for right-wingers to lean heavily on sexist stereotypes to dismiss Gore’s serious, evidence-based and morally urgent crusade to do something about climate change before it’s too late. Now they’re shifting those same attacks onto actual women who are increasingly becoming the face of climate change activism.

Sexism is not required to dismiss Gore’s overblown claims, as they have refuted themselves. Gore has also shown his hypocrisy in 2010 by buying a $8.9 million ocean-view villa.

gore-game

But no matter who the right attacks, the premise remains the same: Environmentalists are female and/or effeminate, and therefore can be dismissed out of hand as stupid or crazy or driven by irrational emotion — in other words, not worth listening to. Women are so worthless in their eyes, it appears, that no amount of evidence will ever make women’s arguments hold merit.

A woman’s arguments hold merit the same way a man’s do. Arguing that climate skeptics are sexist and therefore we shouldn’t listen to them is not an argument that holds merit, whether you are male or female. If you make ad hominem attacks on those you oppose, why are you surprised when they do the same in return?

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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