Quantcast

Climate Deniers Mock 'Feminist Glaciology' Study

Climate

There’s a study that’s been floating around lately, causing condescending eye-rolls among the climate deniers and raised eyebrows among even a couple more mainstream voices. The paper is a look at “Glaciers, gender and science” that applies “a feminist glaciology framework” to research, and in light of yesterday being International Women’s Day, we decided it deserves a little defending from the mockery it’s received in pretty much all the coverage except a blog post by the researcher’s university and one story from Oregon’s Register-Guard.

While people like Anthony Watts may be happy leaving the analysis at the level of stereotypes about how “millions of husbands and wives battle over the home thermostat,” this paper is actually an in-depth and well-researched look at how this specific scientific discipline has, like most others, historically ignored the female perspective. Photo credit: Wikipedia

First, some of the coverage is focusing on the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that funded the research, but that line of attack ignores the fact that the  paper is just one small part of a larger body of glacier research. So while some attempt to make it sound like the study cost taxpayers over $700,000, that’s actually the amount the lead researcher has gotten in total from the NSF throughout his career, not the cost of this study alone. Similarly, $400,000 was for the larger grant from the NSF for the entire glacial science history project, so again that’s way more than was spent on this single study.

Now that the pearl-clutching over the sticker shock has been dealt with, the content of the study can be looked at. As the larger grant is for constructing a history of glaciology, this particular paper looks at how gender has influenced the science of glaciers, finding that women’s voices have not been sufficiently represented. And since the impacts of climate change and glacial retreat fall disproportionately on women through factors like causing women to have to travel further for fresh water as glaciers retreat, those voices are especially important in helping society determine the best ways to adapt to changing conditions.

The paper draws on the literature of feminist political ecology and geography, which examines how resources are used and distributed through a gender-sensitive lens. It then lays out the four aspects of "feminist glaciology:" how gender influences those gathering data and producing knowledge of glaciers, how glacier science is influenced by gender, how historical power dynamics like colonialism coincide with male-centered ways of thinking, and finally the alternative methods that can be employed to provide a more robust and culturally comprehensive understanding of glaciers.

It provides examples of female explorers dating back to the 1770’s, who were hidden from the public and excluded from history, and more recent examples of 20th century female geologists facing marginalization. It wasn’t until the 1990s, for example, that the British allowed women to spend the winter in Antarctica. It also broaches the uncomfortable subject of the widespread sexual harassment of women in science, citing a 2014 finding that 64 percent of women in science had experienced sexual harassment, a rate 3.5 times greater than their male counterparts.

While people like Anthony Watts may be happy leaving the analysis at the level of stereotypes about how “millions of husbands and wives battle over the home thermostat,” this paper is actually an in-depth and well-researched look at how this specific scientific discipline has, like most others, historically ignored the female perspective.

Given how often they complain about being an ignored demographic, deniers might have been better off embracing this study as evidence of the potential for bias in science, instead of dismissing it as wasted funds.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Fossil Fuel Industry Set to Argue for Dismissal of Landmark Climate Change Lawsuit Brought by 21 Youth

Dear President Obama, The Clean Energy Revolution Is Now

Heeding Leo’s Call

Endangered Species Found Dead, Likely Result of Illegal Fishing

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter


tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Rachel Licker

As a new mom, I've had to think about heat safety in many new ways since pregnant women and young children are among the most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to get confused about which foods are healthy and which aren't.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Maximum heat indices expected in the continental U.S. on Saturday July 20. NOAA WPC

A dangerous heat wave is expected to boil much of the Central and Eastern U.S. beginning Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who was appointed by President Gerald Ford in 1975, was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on May 29, 2012. MANDEL NGAN / AFP / GettyImages

John Paul Stevens, the retired Supreme Court Justice who wrote the opinion granting environmental agencies the power to regulate greenhouse gases, died Tuesday at the age of 99. His decision gave the U.S. government important legal tools for fighting the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signs the so-called Affordable Clean Energy rule on June 19, replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan that would have reduced coal-fired plant carbon emissions. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency / Twitter

By Elliott Negin

On July 8, President Trump hosted a White House event to unabashedly tout his truly abysmal environmental record. The following day, coincidentally, marked the one-year anniversary of Andrew Wheeler at the helm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), first as acting administrator and then as administrator after the Senate confirmed him in late February.

Read More Show Less
A timber sale in the Kaibab National Forest. Dyan Bone / Forest Service / Southwestern Region / Kaibab National Forest

By Tara Lohan

If you're a lover of wilderness, wildlife, the American West and the public lands on which they all depend, then journalist Christopher Ketcham's new book is required — if depressing — reading.

Read More Show Less
Somalians fight against hunger and lack of water due to drought as Turkish Ambassador to Somalia, Olgan Bekar (not seen) visits the a camp near the Mogadishu's rural side in Somalia on March 25, 2017. Sadak Mohamed / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

World hunger is on the rise for the third consecutive year after decades of decline, a new United Nations (UN) report says. The climate crisis ranks alongside conflict as the top cause of food shortages that force more than 821 million people worldwide to experience chronic hunger. That number includes more than 150 million children whose growth is stunted due to a lack of food.

Read More Show Less