Although clearly not all climate change ‘sceptics’ are male, writes Bob Ward, it does appear that those who most intensely promote climate change denial are usually male, and routinely refer to female climate scientists in a dismissive way. He provides some evidence for his argument.
On 20 February, the Global Warming Policy Foundation launched a new pamphlet at the House of Lords, attacking the mainstream media for not giving more coverage to climate change ‘sceptics’. The author, Christopher Booker, is a veteran columnist for The Sunday Telegraph. This will be the 65th pamphlet published by the Foundation, since it was registered as an educational charity by Lord Lawson of Blaby in 2009, 57 of which have been written by men only.
However, male dominance of the Foundation’s other activities is even stronger. Of its 10 Trustees, all but one are men. All of the 25 members of its “Academic Advisory Council” are men. Its Chair, Director, Deputy Director, Science Editor, Energy Editor, Director of Development and Researcher are all men. And all seven of its annual lectures have been delivered by men.
The Foundation does not disclose any details about the identities of its members, thought to number about 100, or its donors who last year gave more than £284,000. It is not obvious why the Foundation should be able to benefit from charity status while appearing to operate as an old boys’ club. It is not, for instance, raising awareness of men’s issues, such as the risks of prostate cancer.
I asked the Charity Commission to investigate whether the under-representation of women within the governance and activities of the Foundation was the result of discrimination. The Commission had previously carried out an inquiry into the Foundation and concluded that it had violated the rules for education charities because it was solely promoting climate change denial.
However, it refused to make any enquiries about the under-representation of women on the grounds that “there are no legal requirements around gender balance in governance and that under s20(2) of the Charities Act, the Commission is precluded from interfering in the administration of a charity”.
The Foundation may be dominated by older men because climate change denial is simply not popular among women and young people. Numerous studies have suggested that climate change ‘sceptics’ are usually older and male, with political views that place less value on the environment. However, recent polls of the UK public suggest that there is little gender difference among the small proportion of the population who are hardcore ‘sceptics’.
A tracking survey commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy showed that, in March 2017, 7.6% answered “I don’t think there is such a thing as climate change” or “Climate change is caused entirely caused by natural processes”, when asked for their views. Among men the figure was 8.1%, while for women it was 7.1%.
Anyone who has engaged with ‘sceptics’ will have learned that it is the men who are most vocal about their views. They tend to lack any training or qualifications in climate science, but still appear to believe that they know better than the experts. And there is also a degree of male chauvinism that often underlies the arguments put forward by ‘sceptics’ during public discussions. For instance, when Lord Lawson was asked to comment on a statement by Professor Dame Julia Slingo, the chief scientist at the Met Office, about the link between flooding and climate change, he did not refer to her by her professional title but as “this Julia Slingo woman”.
Other climate change ‘sceptics’ routinely refer to female climate scientists in a dismissive way. For instance, Professor Joanna Haigh of Imperial College London was called a “puffed-up missy” in a trademark rant by James Delingpole for the extremist website Breitbart. Mr Delingpole also referred on his website to Dr Emily Shuckburgh, an experienced climate scientist who specialises on impacts in polar regions, not by her name or job title but as “some foxy chick from the British Antarctic Survey”.
Female scientists outside the UK are also exposed to sexist invective from climate change ‘sceptics’, with Scientific American reporting that, in the United States, “more than 90 percent of the harassing emails they receive are from men and often include gender-specific abuse”.
Of course not all climate change ‘sceptics’ are male chauvinists, but it is clear that those who most obsessively promote climate change denial are usually male, arrogant, and unable to accept that the experts are right, particularly if they are female.
Bob Ward is Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE.
All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Featured image: Pixabay/Public Domain.
Funnily enough, it is the activist climate community that resorts to sexist language and posturing about female skeptics–just check out the way scientists like Judith Curry, Sally Baliunas and skeptic writers like Jeniffer Marohasy and Jo Nova are insulted by those most alarmed by climate change. They’re told to stay in the kitchen, then told to get out of the kitchen if the heat is too much for their tender sensibilities.
I’m sure there are Neanderthals within the skeptic community. I’m also sure they are not large in number. I wonder if the same can be said of climate activists.
Hello Mr. Bob Ward
What ‘arguments’ like yours are missing is actual science. Now, appeals to authority – ie ‘you should trust the experts’ is quite simply *not* science. Science is founded on a discussion of the evidence, not who it was that said it. Science is the pursuit of truth, and it cares not one jot about your credentials.
Even if Albert Einstein said it doesn’t make it true. What makes something true is *the argument itself*.
Now I will supply a scientific argument, and allow you to respond. You can respond yourself, or you can find someone to respond for you. That can be a male or a female expert, or alternatively a soothsayer or a chimpanzee. It really is of no interest to me.
So how about you try asking yourself how a 200 parts per million change in atmospheric CO2 could *possibly* ‘warm’ the whole planet. CO2 is a trace gas. Let me add to that something that everyone seems to be missing – the atmosphere and the planet itself *are in thermal contact*. That means, if you want to warm the atmosphere, you need a net warming of the whole Earth. That’s an incredible feat to achieve with a trace atmospheric gas existing only in a thin region around the Earth’s surface. The solid Earth has a density several thousand times that of the atmosphere and is vastly larger.
In fact, I put it to you that the whole ‘problem’ of the Earth’s surface temperature can be solved with only 2 considerations:
1. Stefan Boltzmann
2. Atmospheric pressure
You can quite quickly derive a surprisingly accurate figure for the average surface temperature of the Earth using only these considerations. You’ll note the complete absense of the ‘greenhouse effect’ in the list.
1. The real ‘greenhouse effect’ (ie the one which occurs in a greenhouse) has been shown to be mainly due to restriction of convection, *not* due to any ‘infra-red trapping mechanism’ (see here: http://www.biocab.org/Experiment_on_Greenhouses__Effect.pdf). It is quite obvious the dominating mechanisms of heat transfer between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere are conduction and convection, with radiative transfer coming in a very distant (and insignificant) third place. Not surprising, because radiation tends to pass through our low density atmosphere.
2. Point 1 – and for that matter any other argument whatsoever – is rendered completely irrelevant when you jot down the whole system on the back of an envelope. So we’ve got the Earth in space, which absorbs energy from the sun, and emits energy back into space. The only ways you can make the Earth warmer is to increase the amount of incident energy, or reduce the amount radiated back into space. The former obviously depends only on the sun, and the latter depends on the Earth’s emmisivity. Do you think 200 ppm of CO2 can possibly make a significant difference to the emissivity of the Earth? (And a good absorber is a good emitter, so doesn’t emissivity end up on both sides when solving Stefan Boltzmann and tend to cancel?)
No ‘feedbacks’ are necessary in the calculation. Even if ‘infra red trapping’ were a real thing, it would surely just be one of the many ways the Earth reaches *thermal equilibrium*. On top of the various other ones, such as the aforementioned conduction and convection. There is simply no way you can artificially warm the atmosphere while keeping everything else at the same temperature (or making the Earth cooler? Which absurd claim is being made here?)
Claiming ‘feedbacks’ when solving a macroscopic problem in thermodynamics is akin to claims of inventing a perpetual motion machine. Heat transfer between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere is an *internal* effect, and does not feature in the general solution for the whole Earth’s temperature as a system. We assume the Earth’s atmosphere reaches thermal equilibrium by whatever mechanism – the exact one(s) are irrelevant.
We do not solve the problem of heat transfer down an solid bar by inventing ‘feedbacks’. We look at the temperature at either end and the material. We don’t even need to consider what is happening on a microscopic scale – if there were any ‘feedbacks’ then they are already absorbed into the energy equation.
So I put it to you that the whole CO2 = climate change saga is a theory necessitating the complete violation of very basic Physics.
There is my science. Where is yours?
I don’t see any science in your post.
Bob Wards science (and mine) s on any number of science based websites.
This is fake news. The GWPF report was about groupthink. It is telling that Mr Ward does not link to it.