The results of a Swedish study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology found that men’s spending habits cause 16% more climate-heating emissions than women’s has gone viral on the internet. Climate change exacerbates increasing inequality and hits women harder than men. UN data suggests that 80% of people displaced by climate change are women.
The biggest difference seems to be that men spend more money on petrol. Another big difference: the men surveyed bought more meat than women. Placing the burden of mitigating climate change on individuals, no matter their gender, feels futile as we watch corporations and the 1%, who are the main drivers of climate change, do whatever the hell they like. The problem isn’t that certain men are spending more on motoring and meat than their female counterparts – it’s the obsession with economic growth at any cost for capital accumulation and the profit motive.
The focus on the gender-based spending habits of ordinary consumers is futile. The fact is that women in rich countries are responsible for far more emissions than men in poor countries. In Madagascar, more than a million people are facing desperate food shortages due to what has been called the first famine in modern history caused by global heating alone. “This is an area of the world that has contributed nothing to climate change, but now they’re the ones paying the highest price,” said the UN World Food Programme.
The climate crisis is not going to get fixed by shaming powerless individuals or getting men in the west to eat more veggie burgers; it can be fixed only through system change.
The adage "It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism" feels truer each new day.
We plebs keep getting told we have to change our lifestyle habits while our masters have made it abundantly clear that they have no intention of changing theirs. It is galling to be lectured on the evils of flying in planes while billionaires are shooting themselves into space. Billionaires and corporations seem intent on having us believe not only that their greed isn’t ruining the world, but that it will in fact be its salvation. “We have to go to space to save Earth,” Jeff Bezos has declared.