Opinion By Megan MacKenzie Sat at 1:00pm
Growing up in Moose Jaw, Canada, it never occurred to me that some people didn’t know what truck nuts were.
The answer to this question might be the key to overcoming the global climate crisis, so buckle up.
Trucks and fast cars have long been understood as symbols of wealth and masculinity. Truck nuts just added a ball-shaped exclamation point to this statement.
But driving a big truck has been used to convey more than manhood.
There’s a history of people coal rollin’ or retro-fitting trucks so they burn more diesel and produce heavy plumes of black smoke.
Consuming fuel and producing smoke are a way to both signal hyper-masculinity and an open distain for environmental concerns. A smoky middle finger to environmentalists, if you will.
There are entire Instagram pages dedicated to coal rollin’, with some drivers making a sport out of blasting smoke at bikers, protesters, Asian-made cars (called “rice-burners”), unsuspecting female pedestrians and hybrid cars.
Here’s where truck nuts and coal rollin’ become helpful in understanding why (mostly white male) political leaders like Trump, ScoMo and Albo champion fossil fuel extraction even as the country literally burns and in the face of overwhelming science regarding the climate crisis.
Put simply, fragile masculinity might be the biggest obstacle to real climate action. Masculinity has been associated with fossil fuel consumption, extraction, and burning for decades.
Who are our biggest climate deniers?
Cara Daggett uses the concept of “petro-masculinity” to describe the ways that fossil fuel extraction has historically been used to fuel western development and provide world leaders with power and a sense of manliness.
Leaving fossil fuels in the ground symbolises a loss of power and money. Some male leaders see real climate action as a threat to power and to profit, through extraction and exploitation of the environment.
Male resistance to climate action has bipartisan support. Any hope that the Labor party might offer climate policy alternatives the Liberals went up in smoke in the past few months as Anthony Albanese announced he doesn’t want to phase out coal.
Researchers in Norway also found what they call a “cool dude effect” when it comes to climate change.
Photo ‘I don’t believe in global warming’ art.
They show that white conservative men, especially those that think they understand the science of climate change, are the biggest climate deniers and the least likely to be moved by further research.
There are multiple examples of ‘cool climate dudes’ and petro-masculinity, including “right wingers…going crazy about meat”, by embracing diets called “the carnivore” or “the caveman” at the same time that vegans are belittled as “soyboys” and “beta males”.
Animal agriculture is the second largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas emissions and researchers says plant-based diets are best for the environment and for our health.
Yet, a recent Twitter poll had 45 per cent men report that their biggest barrier to a vegan diet was social stigma.
In her incredible article, Victoria Galiardo-Silver concludes, “fragile masculinity says meat is manly”.
This researcher is united in the conclusion that white conservative men have been the ones with the most power in western countries and they have the most to lose by efforts to change long standing practices and structures, including those associated with the environment.
We must shift the way we see world leaders responding to the climate crisis. They are not ill-informed or ignorant, they are just fragile and anxious. We can help them recover.