Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Climate Deniers Mock 'Feminist Glaciology' Study

Climate
Climate Deniers Mock 'Feminist Glaciology' Study

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

With restaurants and supermarkets becoming less viable options during the pandemic, there has been a growth in demand and supply of local food. Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County / Flickr

By Robin Scher

Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A technician inspects a bitcoin mining operation at Bitfarms in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec on March 19, 2018. LARS HAGBERG / AFP via Getty Images

As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
OR-93 traveled hundreds of miles from Oregon to California. Austin Smith Jr. / Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs / California Department of Fish and Wildlife

An Oregon-born wolf named OR-93 has sparked conservation hopes with a historic journey into California.

Read More Show Less
A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built along the Monongahela River, 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, on Sept. 24, 2013 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. The plant, owned by FirstEnergy, was retired the following month. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

By David Drake and Jeffrey York

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The Big Idea

People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.

Read More Show Less