Feminism: Destroying the Planet

By Sean Carroll | June 1, 2006 9:22 am

Every now and then the world is trying to tell you something, and events conspire in a flash of synchronicity to reveal a truth so deep and powerful that ordinary genius alone would have been insufficient to figure it out. Such was the case recently, when I was leafing through Garry Wills’ New York Review of Books article on Harvey Mansfield’s studly paean to all that is virtuous and masculine, entitled simply Manliness. (Now, it’s true that the sight of Professor Mansfield giving a high-five to Stephen Colbert demonstrated pretty clearly that, on the electrical-appliances scale of manliness, Harvey is less of a drill press or band saw and more of a cappucino maker or perhaps a motorized salad spinner. But that doesn’t affect the persuasive grandeur of his argument.) At the same time, I was mulling over the implications of An Inconvenient Truth, the global-warming scare-movie from noted beta-male Al Gore. Mr. Tree-Hugger himself would prance about in front of his fancy charts and graphs that looked like this:

CO2 concentration

And then, girly-man that he is, he would act all scared that the world was going to melt or some such nonsense. Crazy alarmist.

In a flash of insight, it hit me: this must be feminism’s fault, somehow. Those pushy women have tipped the balance of the universal order, and thrown Nature’s intricate equilibrium out of whack. Fortunately, I was handed just the tool I needed to prove this obviously-correct hypothesis by Brad DeLong, in the form of Gapminder World from Google. Check it out, peeps: here is a graph of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, as a function of the ratio of girls to boys attending school in different countries.

Women in school and CO2 emissions

You can see it right there, science doesn’t lie. The correlation is clear as the Los Angeles haze — countries that educate women are dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now, unless you’re crazy enough to think that it’s the CO2 that is causing all those girls to go get themselves an education, I think the implication is obvious: feminism is destroying the planet. We can now add this to Professor Mansfield’s insight that gender equality leads to less exciting sex lives, as one more level-headed condemnation of these tiresome females and their outdated Enlightenment aspirations.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Humor
  • http://iso42.blogspot.com wolfgang


    you sound just like Jesus General. Of course he is an 11 on the manly scale of absolute gender8-)

  • http://www.amara.com/ Amara

    or maybe it is all of those Internet users

    (try carbon dioxide emissions as a function of Internet users..!)

  • Elliot

    Gee with statistics like these you should write a best selling book called maybe “freakonomics” or something like that.


  • http://motls.blogspot.com/ Lubos Motl

    Mansfield is manly in ways that feminists like Sean will never be capable to comprehend. The only things that I agree with in this text is that feminism is destroying the planet and that Al Gore is a crazy tree-hugger and alarmist. On my blog, I offer a much more detailed analysis of many different correlations that shows, among other things, that income and emission of CO2 is virtually the same quantity, and that the percentage of women in the labor force is uncorrelated with the GNP per capita. Sean will never tell you these things. CO2. They call it polution. I call it life, and I call them intellectual pollution, while they call their own armageddon stories intellectual life. πŸ˜‰

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/mark/ Mark

    Sean, don’t you think baiting two hooks is a bit of a waste? :)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    Yeah, but it’s not like bait is in short supply.

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  • http://sourav.net/ Sourav

    You liberals are denying the real cause — an alarming decrease in the number of pirates.

  • llewelly

    Completely agreed! I for one definitely feel warmer whenever feminists are around
    er …

  • http://johnmckay.blogspot.com John McKay

    One of my first lessons in statistics and correlation vs. cause, was in grade school when my father proved to me that bananas cause lung cancer.

  • Christian H.

    Right on! Too bad Larry Summers was too much of a gentleman to say this. Re: correlation/causality – apparently there was a correlation between the number of storks and the birthrate in Sweden in the fifties (?). This is now easily explained: more female education –> more CO2 –> warmer weather –> fewer storks AND more female education –> lower birth rate. Voila.

  • http://pantheon.yale.edu/~eal48 Eugene

    That’s hilarious.

  • Martin G.

    John, bananas contain radioactive potassium, so maybe they do cause lung cancer.

  • DrNathaniel

    Well, the problem is obvious. Both women-in-school and CO2 are correlated with year number.

    Therefore, our best bet for solving global warming is to reset our calendar back to year zero.

    (Of course, this will mean feminism disappears too. Dang.)


  • Vince

    Good thing the aliens will come soon and colonize the planet. I’ve heard there is no feminism being practiced among the aliens. Note, these are the same aliens whose shipped crashed at Roswell in 1947.

  • arthur

    I agree with Sourav, the real cause of global warming is obviously pirates. You liberals refuse to acknowledge this because of the fear of the truth.

    Ramen, brother.

  • http://johnmckay.blogspot.com John McKay

    Martin G. says: “John, bananas contain radioactive potassium, so maybe they do cause lung cancer.”

    Only if you inhale them.

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  • Supernova

    Note to self: SEAN KNOWS TOO MUCH. Must have him terminated. Nothing can be allowed to interfere with the Feminist Final Solution! Bwahahahahaha!!!


    How about CO2 emissions versus razor blades?
    Moore’s Law for Razor Blades

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  • Elliot

    It also appears you live longer if your country emits more CO2. Can we conclude that CO2 is good for you or lack of CO2 will shorten your lifespan?

  • Kea

    Dear Sean, I’ve never laughed so hard at something so depressing. I wonder if LM will check your data sources.

  • citrine

    The countries that produce high amounts of CO2 also show higher per capita spending on perfume. Therefore perfume causes global warming.

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  • LambchopofGod

    Sorry, I fail to see anything surprising or amusing in any of this. Rich countries produce more CO2 and send more girls to school. So what?

  • Lexia

    Sorry, I fail to see anything surprising or amusing in any of this. Rich countries produce more CO2 and send more girls to school. So what?

    I think it’s got a lot to do with the recent rise in dubious trend stories published by papers that should have known better. But that’s just my own correllation.

    Good thing the aliens will come soon and colonize the planet.

    Tiptree’s two possums that shipped out in ’73 will be coming back with those aliens from Roswell. Then things’ll get fun.

  • Ponderer of Things

    I like correlation of number of cell phones per capita with lifespan. If we only got Africans nations some cell phones, their life expectancy will immediately increase from 30-something to 70-something years!

  • angryScientist

    Sorry, I fail to see anything surprising or amusing in any of this. Rich countries produce more CO2 and send more girls to school. So what?

    So…feminism is destroying the planet, while making the country richer. Ergo, feminism=capitalism?

    It isn’t the data that’s funny, it’s the interpretation. The double-whammy irony is that equally dubious connections are reported with a straight face all the time.

  • http://www.ooblick.com/ arensb

    Feminists? Oh, please. The CO2 graph makes it clear that greenhouse gas emissions really took off in 1859, the year when Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published. Clearly the problem is evilutionism; feminism is at best an evilutionist ally.

    (Though there’s also a bit of a reduction in CO2 levels around the time when the Germans caused all that unpleasantness in Europe in the last century; I don’t know how to explain that.)

  • Elliot

    I just gotta ask. Why did the data collection site shift from Antartica to Mauna Loa?

  • Kramer


    Data from Antarctica is from analysis of air trapped in ice cores.

    Data from Mauna Loa is data from measurements of CO2 (begun by the very forward thinking Ralph Keeling).

  • http://www.amara.com/ Amara

    Kramer, The CO2 from ocean island basalts? I know the geochemists like the Hawaiian island basalts because of what seems to be a long conduit to an undegassed reservoir in the mantle where the abundances of the noble gases are high.

    Elliot, other places you can look if you are interested in the primordial CO2 are well gases (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/285/5436/2115) and ‘popping rock’, which are mid-ocean ridge basaltic glasses thought to be undegassed material from the Earth’s upper mantle. It is called ‘popping rock’ because when they are recovered from the seafloor and sitting on the ship’s deck, they ‘pop’ from the gases trapped in individual vesicles. Is that cool or what?

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  • gringo


    Why don’t you test that by allowing Gore to punch your face?
    Oh, maybe you are afraid of becoming two-dimensional all of a sudden?

    That would be the result of Gore’s punch. Trust me he can hit like noone else. Not even Ahhhhnold.

  • zerosix

    Amara, but wait, graph internet usage to %girl/boy and you will find the graph is almost identical…hmmmmmm. πŸ˜›


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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .


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