As a white liberal, I suppose it should distress me that white liberals tend to be on the other side of the climate debate. It doesn’t–white liberals have been wrong on a lot of things historically. Being right all the time would be boring. I can’t do anything about my color–I’m getting of an age where tanning seems dangerous. As for being liberal, I’m liberal because of principle, not past performance. As long as we’re wrong less frequently than the opposition, I figure we’re doing okay. And we are.
I do note that the LGBT community and activist feminist groups are climbing on board the Klimate Train. I just read a story in the Daily Beast titled ‘Is Caring About Climate Change An Essential Part Of LGBT Identity?’
Like the story’s author, I approached this story ready to scoff. But there’s a real case to be made. Those from the LGBT community who have been converted to climate activists say that “While governments and corporations refused to acknowledge the severity of the AIDS crisis—an eerie parallel to the response to date on climate change—we educated the masses, told our stories, harnessed the media, raised money.”
Perhaps even more importantly, they believe that strategies and communications techniques they used in the fight to change public opinion on gay marriage and acceptance of LGBTs overall are exactly what is needed to persuade the ‘moveable middle’ to embrace more active measures to fight climate change.
On the other hand, a recent story in the Des Moines Register titled ‘Why Climate Change Is a Woman’s Issue‘ was not nearly as impressive, the thrust of the piece being that because women handle more of the agricultural work in developing countries, climate change will have a greater impact on women. The author also argues that in those same countries women can get shortchanged at mealtimes if there isn’t enough to go around.
(The piece also features Democrat Tom Steyer, the guy who’s funding candidates based on their commitment to fighting climate change. The story has a quote that may come back to haunt him. Steyer said, “Per kilowatt hour, solar requires eight times more jobs than fossil fuels.” As Tim Worstall has been known to remark, those are additional costs of green energy. Higher labor costs for solar is a bug, not a feature.)
Back to feminism and climate change. Using the same logic as the author, feminists should also be participating heavily in the debates about GMOs and the allocation of resources to micro-nutrients, vaccines and clean water. Women are more heavily impacted by all changes involving health and nutrition, not just because they go out in the fields, but because they are caregivers to children and well, because there are more women than men on this planet. Using the same logic, women would almost certainly argue for more resources being directed to these more immediate threats.
Missing from the bandwagon so far are ethnic activists, despite it being fairly clear that the people most affected by whatever climate change impacts come our way will not… be… white… This may be because even expatriates can see that economic development of India, Nigeria, China, Indonesia and Brazil will have a greater impact than avoiding climate change.
As someone who does not see danger to global agriculture from climate change, I cannot support this feminist viewpoint. (I have no idea how widespread this new climate activism runs through either the LGBT or feminist communities.) I have long argued that feminists in the United States probably miscalculated and misallocated resources when they chose to aim at the glass ceiling instead of fighting harder to establish a concrete floor below which women would not sink. Feminists in other countries that chose differently have seen better outcomes. State supported childcare seems to have more of an impact than a guaranteed percentage of seats on the board of directors. Focusing on climate change rather than malnutrition, disease and access to clean water seems very much like making the same mistake.
I would urge feminists to widen their vision to include other environmental impacts on women. It is women who are breathing dung fumes while cooking over a 3 stone oven. It is women making the long march to get water. It is women looking after ill and weak children suffering from cholera and malaria.
As for gay activists fighting climate change–go for it. Your experience may elevate the discussion of the issue and one thing is for sure. You will certainly do better than the idiots that have been trying to push the issue to date.