It's not Bill Gates vs. Greta Thunberg!

Sep 30, 2021

“You can think of it as Bill versus Greta”.

That’s what Steven Pinker said to The Guardian this week about the debate on climate change.

“Bill” in this case is Bill Gates (an American billionaire).

“Greta” in this case is Greta Thunberg (a Swedish teenager).

What Pinker apparently meant was that you can approach the fact that the climate emergency is happening either from the perspective of “problem-solving” (like Bill!) or “conflict” (like Greta!)

That’s what it’s all about!

Bill vs. Greta.

Your choice!

(And obviously Pinker thinks Bill is better)

Well, I beg to differ on the usefulness of this dichotomy….

FIRSTLY. Let’s start by saying that being a “problem-solver” is a HECK of a lot easier when you are a BILLIONAIRE able to put 4 billion dollars into initiatives to fight climate change, than if you are, say… a Swedish teenager.

And “conflict”? Well that seems to be something almost any woman creates just by opening her mouth about climate change.

The way prominent female figures of the climate movement (like Greta Thunberg) are despised by many men is fascinating.

(I’m not saying that Pinker is despising anyone. Only that it’s a big phenomenon in general.)

The climate movement is seen by many as a threat to a modern, fossil-fuel-based society historically dominated by a certain brand of masculinity.

This has started to become a key political dynamic in many societies.

I’m personally fascinated by how tangled up our whole debate on climate change is in ideas about gender. What is up with this need to position a RATIONAL, CALM and MASCULINE “Bill” against a HYSTERICAL and EMOTIONAL “Greta”?

Move over ladies, and let the MEN deal with this problem!

A few years ago EcoAmerica went public with different suggestions about how to talk about climate change in a way that actually made people (Americans) give a f'*ck . One of the suggestions was to stop framing policies against climate change as “sacrifices” we had to make as individuals.

People didn’t like it.

It just created too much conflict.

What people wanted, according to the polling, were instead solutions that sounded “active”, “daring” and “masculine” .

They wanted “Bill”.

Not “Greta”.

But why is “sacrificing” something in order to save the planet even perceived as “feminine”?

To give something up personally in order to achieve something for others?

Don’t men do that all the time?

Isn’t that what soldiers often do on the battlefield? What musicians do for years in order to be able to play Rachmaninov? What fathers do for their kids when they work two jobs? There’s nothing particularly “feminine” about any of it!

Seriously! What’s up with all of this gendering of the debate on climate change?

Happy Friday!


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