Don’t be like Elsa in Frozen II when it comes to climate changeSep 01, 2021
This summer has changed how many of us think about climate change.
extreme flooding in Europe
wildfires in Siberia (and across the Mediterranean)
serious floods in China
devastating fires in the sub-Arctic
heatwaves and drought in North America.
And as I write this: RAIN in New York.
I was in Paris in December 2015 when the world signed the agreement that was going to fix this. Limit global warming to below 2 degrees (hopefully 1.5) and give our grandchildren a world to live in. I’m not terribly proud of it but I spent most of those December days sitting in a room with ornate Parisian ceilings interviewing male experts on climate change.
(I was also stuffing myself with French pastry. I was pregnant at the time and as you know babies are made from croissants).
I don’t regret the pastry, but all the hours interviewing male experts– I do question that.
For years researchers have pointed out the pattern. Our focus of attention when it comes to dealing with climate change is on technology and technicians as a group. A group that consists largely of men. We give them a lot of air time. (Elon Musk has a new car! Bill Gates has a new book! Wow! Wow!). These men are portrayed as the solution to the problem. This ends up masking the big role that men play as polluters.
I recently read Anne Karpf’s book “How Women Can Save The Planet”. It is actually not about how women can save the planet. It’s about how women- especially poor women of colour- are suffering most from a planetary crisis they have done nothing to cause.
In the introduction Karpf talks about her efforts to make the book about human beings. Humans “sometimes get edged out of our climate concern by polar bears and other fluffy creatures”. Karpf suggests that this is because many of us find it easier to empathise with fluffy white animals than with people who have black or brown skin.
The narrative that we end up with on climate change (male technicians rescuing fluffy white animals from a global warming caused by NOBODY?) is not very helpful.
All of this brings me to the topic of Frozen II.
Unlike Frozen I, which Disney did a good job with, Frozen II is RUBBISH.
(If you are of a different view please hit reply and we can DISCUSS because YES, this is a hill I’m prepared to die on).
Why is Frozen II rubbish?
The answer is simple:
THERE IS NO VILLAIN!
Disney films stand and fall with their villains. And villains are important in most narratives. They are also weirdly absent in our discussion about the climate emergency. The recent UN report conveniently avoids using words like “oil” or “fossil fuels” anywhere in its whole 42 page summary!
As Emily Atkin pointed out at the time, “You’ll learn the world is ending, but not why.”
We become like queen Elsa trying to fight some weird disembodied ice shadows and no-I-do- not-know-what the F*k- is-going-on-in- that-film.
Karpf points out how campaigners like David Attenborough use language like: “We have not just ruined the planet we’ve destroyed it” pointing the finger at the whole human species.
But the elderly European woman dying in a heatwave or the young African girl missing school because of drought have actually NOT destroyed the planet. At least not anywhere as much as your average fossil fuel company CEO.
I think Karpf’s point holds even economically. You are probably all aware that investment in anything that can be called “green” has exploded.
But the climate transition can’t just be about making green businesses grow.
It must also be about removing the ones that wreck the planet.
Yes, the VILLAINS!
But today we buy green bonds with one hand and lend money to fossil fuel companies with the other.
I recently did a piece (Swedish only unfortunately!) about people shortselling companies that produce substantial carbon emissions based on the analysis that they don’t have a future anyway given the climate emergency.
I don’t know enough to say if this is part of any solution but I did feel a lot better writing that piece than after all those interviews in Paris in 2015.
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