October 5, 2020


There has been a plethora of studies, scholarly research articles and popular essays connecting masculinity, homophobia, and an aversion to environmental concerns, which emotionally skew as feminine (sissy, frankly). I would argue that women who identify as living contentedly inside a patriarchal societal structure are also party to this attitude. Is it the same group who do not wear masks to avoid COVID-19?


  • The Misogyny of Climate Deniers, New Republic, 2019
    Why do right-wing men hate Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez so much? Researchers have some troubling answers to that question.

  • How Gender Stereotypes Affect Pro-Environment Behavior, Pacific Standard, 2019
    New research finds that certain green behaviors are linked with masculine and feminine stereotypes.

  • How can a man be too straight to recycle?, The Guardian
    Research shows some men shun environmental activities for fear of looking gay – proof that homophobia doesn’t only harm LGBTQ people

  • How right-wing nationalism fuels climate denial, DW, 2018
    As leaders like Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro call global warming a hoax, a new study shows the link between climate change denial and nationalism. DW spoke to its author, Martin Hultman.

  • A green fatwā? Climate change as a threat to the masculinity of industrial modernity, Anselm and Hultman, Norma International Journal for Masculinity Studies, 2014
    From the autumn of 2006 and until 2009, climate change was described in Sweden as having apocalyptic dimensions. There was a parliamentary and public consensus that anthropogenic climate change was real and that society needed to take responsibility for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, though a small group of climate sceptics did not agree with the majority of the scientists or the need for drastic changes in the organization of Western societies. This small group, with only one exception, consisted of elderly men with influential positions in academia or large private companies. In this article we discuss how they described themselves as marginalised, banned and oppressed dissidents, forced to speak against a faith-based belief in climate science. They characterised themselves as having strong beliefs in a market society, great mistrust of government regulation and a sturdy belief in engineering and natural science rationality. We contend that climate sceptics in Sweden can be understood as being intertwined with a masculinity of industrial modernity that is on decline. These climate sceptics tried to save an industrial society of which they were a part by defending its values against ecomodern hegemony. This gender analysis of climate scepticism moves beyond the previous research of understanding this discourse as solely an ideologically-based outcry against science and politics, and highlights the recognition of identities, historical structures and emotions.

  • Petro-masculinity: Fossil Fuels and Authoritarian Desire, Cara Daggett,
    Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 2018
    As the planet warms, new authoritarian movements in the West are embracing a toxic combination of climate denial, racism and misogyny. Rather than consider these resentments separately, this article interrogates their relationship through the concept of petro-masculinity, which appreciates the historic role of fossil fuel systems in buttressing white patriarchal rule. Petro-masculinity is helpful to understanding how the anxieties aroused by the Anthropocene can augment desires for authoritarianism. The concept of petro-masculinity suggests that fossil fuels mean more than profit; fossil fuels also contribute to making identities, which poses risks for post-carbon energy politics. Moreover, through a psycho-political reading of authoritarianism, I show how fossil fuel use can function as a violent compensatory practice in reaction to gender and climate trouble.

  • Petro‐masculinity and climate change denial among white, politically conservative American males, Joshua Nelson, Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 2020
    White, politically conservative males in the United States have been widely found to maintain petro‐masculine attitudes that include aspects of racism, misogyny, and climate change denial. These beliefs and their associated behaviors, including climate destructiveness, can be conceptualized as compensatory reactions to modern‐day racial, gender, and climate‐related anxieties that are experienced as threats to traditional white male privilege and power. They then manifest as and energize authoritarian desires and their associated sociopolitical movements, including the current Republican effort to Make American Great Again. This paper utilizes psychoanalytic concepts concerning individual and large‐group identity, group psychodynamics and processes, and the intergenerational transmission of idealized myth and fantasy to further elucidate and expand upon these complex phenomena. It then suggests specific strategies for disentangling the strong links between white hegemonic masculinity, fossil fuel use, and climate change denial, thus opening doors to alternative, non climate‐destructive yet still empowering notions of individual, large‐group, and national identity that are, instead, based in communal concern and climate care.

  • Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States, McCright and Dunlap, Global Environmental Change, 2011
    We examine whether conservative white males are more likely than are other adults in the U.S. general public to endorse climate change denial. We draw theoretical and analytical guidance from the identity protective cognition thesis explaining the white male effect and from recent political psychology scholarship documenting the heightened system-justification tendencies of political conservatives. We utilize public opinion data from ten Gallup surveys from 2001 to 2010, focusing specifically on five indicators of climate change denial. We find that conservative white males are significantly more likely than are other Americans to endorse denialist views on all five items, and that these differences are even greater for those conservative white males who self-report understanding global warming very well. Furthermore, the results of our multivariate logistic regression models reveal that the conservative white male effect remains significant when controlling for the direct effects of political ideology, race, and gender as well as the effects of nine control variables. We thus conclude that the unique views of conservative white males contribute significantly to the high level of climate change denial in the United States.

  • Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism (CEFORCED)
    Led by Martin Hultman

    Three main focuses:
    • Right-wing nationalism:
      The project will map right-wing nationalist parties in Europe and their arguments around climate change denialism. Among other things, Twitter and other internet discussion groups will be analyzed.
    • Extractive industries:
      The project will undertake a historical investigation into Sweden’s extractive industries –what they have learned about climate change, and how they have acted, as well as connecting knowledge to international studies into the debate.
    • Conservative think tanks:
      The project maps out how conservative thinktanks in Sweden analyze and communicate around climate, as well as their connections to lobby groups of similar character.

    Different forms of climate change denial. According to earlier research, several forms of climate change denial exist:
    • Organised: Groups such as Klimatsans (Climate Sense) or Stockholmsinitiativet (The Stockholm Initiative) in Sweden, as well as lobby groups like the Heartland Institute in the USA, which supports and spread climate change denial.
    • Party Political: Parties such as the Sweden Democrats, who work against different forms of climate policy.
    • Response denial: For example, when people in positions of power make decisions such as the construction of Sälen airport in the Swedish mountains, running totally counter to the climate policies they claim to support.
    • Everyday denial: When people act as though as they unaware of climate change, and, for example, fly several times a year to foreign countries.

In Daggett’s article Petro-Masculinity, she writes that

Fossil fuels built the modern world. There remains an appreciation for fossil fuels – or, at least, for the high energy consumption they provided – as a catalyst of mass liberal democracy. This is evident in ecomodernist calls for a good Anthropocene that would decouple the benefits of fossil fuels from the fuels themselves.17 After all, while industrialisation wreaks planetary destruction, its spread was coterminous with humanist victories like the abolition of slavery, increased literacy rates, gender equality and poverty reduction. Dipesh Chakrabarty notes that this cannot be a coincidence, and that ‘the mansion of modern freedoms stands on an ever-expanding base of fossil-fuel use. Most of our freedoms so far have been energy-intensive’.

I highly recommend reading Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement, or listen to the lectures (there are four in total) that are the basis of the book.

However, in addition to the ecological harms caused by oil and coal, fossil fuels have also done serious political harm. Timothy Mitchell argues that fossil fuels have had contradictory effects in terms of assembling democracy. On the one hand, due to coal’s material traits, its extraction and supply were vulnerable to choke points that could be exploited by a growing labour resistance in the 19th century. In contrast, oil systems were less vulnerable to democratic hijacking. The global oil systems of the 20th century required a host of illiberal and violent measures on the part of Western states and oil companies in order to ensure oil scarcity and, in turn, a profit. In the case of oil, the West touted a democratic creed while simultaneously benefiting from and supporting authoritarian regimes and extremist movements in the Middle East and North Africa. Likewise, fossil fuel and mineral extraction were secured, both within the US and abroad, by racist regimes of differential pay and access to benefits that were aggressively anti-democratic on the part of corporations and the states that supported them.

Carbon democracy thus arose in tandem with, and reliant upon, authoritarianism. Put more strongly, authoritarian politics have historically been part and parcel of the project of securing Western (fossil) rule. By fossil rule, I mean a logic of governing that is dependent upon intensive fossil fuel consumption in both material and, as I will explore below, psycho-political ways. Fossil rule is mobilised through ‘fossil capital’, Andreas Malm’s term to describe how modern capitalism was erected around a belief in ‘self-sustaining growth … welded to the combustion of fossil fuels’. Fossil capital requires an unending, cheap flow of fossil fuels for the concentration of wealth at the expense of other people and things, and this necessitates authoritarian tactics in certain sites and moments, a phenomenon that has been exhaustively catalogued by postcolonial theorists and thinkers in the global South.

As a result, authoritarianism, rather than a perversion of modernity, or a lurking risk of mass industrial society to be avoided, appears instead as the very marrow of a contemporary life predicated upon burning fossil fuels. We cannot take comfort that, over time, creativity will shed its destructive possibilities. The novelty and freedoms enabled by fossil-fueled civilisation are entangled with horrific violence, such that to embark upon fossil-fueled life is to spark off mass species extinction just as much as it is to make possible the internet or global social movements.