Is Dismissing the Precautionary Principle the Manly Thing to Do? Gender and the Economics of Climate Change
Many public debates about climate change now focus on the economic "costs" of taking action. When called on to advise about these, many leading mainstream economists downplay the need for care and caution on climate issues, forecasting a future with infinitely continued economic growth. This essay highlights the roles of binary metaphors and cultural archetypes in creating the highly gendered, sexist, and age-ist attitudes that underlie this dominant advice. Gung-ho economic growth advocates aspire to the role of The Hero, rejecting the conservatism of The Old Wife. But in a world that is not actually as safe and predictable as they assume, the result is guidance from The Fool. Both intellectual and cultural change are necessary if the voice of The Wise Grandmother (which may come through women or men) is to—alongside The Hero—receive the attention it deserves.
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20048, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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