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Canadian Paper: ‘White men are the super spreaders of climate denialism’ – ‘Climate denial groups morph into misogyny…petro-masculinity’

Photo of Marc Fawcett-Atkinson

By Marc Fawcett-Atkinson

Excerpt: Researchers have found a tight relationship between harmful forms of masculinity, right-wing extremism and the refusal to deal with the climate crisis. Fostered by the fossil fuel industry, this confluence has been dubbed “petro-masculinity” by Cara Daggett, a Virginia Tech professor and climate sociologist, to describe a form of masculinity where using fossil fuels is a way to express an individualistic and patriarchal type of masculinity.

Symbols of petro-masculinity, like souped-up trucks and highly gendered divisions of labour, show up repeatedly in climate disinformation where they simultaneously hinder climate action and fuel authoritarianism. Environmentalists and politicians must consider this mindset in their efforts to tackle the climate crisis, gender inequality and political polarization, she said.

Fossil fuels provide petrol and plastic. But for some people — particularly white, conservative, North American men — they underpin culture, she explained. Measures to phase them out in the face of climate catastrophe can easily be perceived as a threat to these people’s sense of culture and self-worth, imposed by a vague group of elites. These perceptions serve to make climate action a political hot potato.

“We’ve seen … the climate denial groups morph into (misogyny) seamlessly, in a way that indicates it’s a core value,” explained Michael Khoo, a strategic communications expert and former lead campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. “A lot of those groups have been part of building the infrastructure of the radical right-wing, which is now an amorphous hotbed of vitriol that has taken on energy policy as a core tenet.”


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