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I’ve had an article about patriarchy on my to-write list for some time. I’ve been too busy/distracted to do so, but reading Tony Thompson’s blog post got me focused.

At some point, I’m sure that you’ve been hit with the “it was cold last winter!” canard when discussing climate change. Once your eyes finished rolling, you took a deep breath and started talking about the difference between weather and climate: weather is what happens at any one given time, whereas climate is an average of weather, over time. You can’t really judge what the climate is doing from a specific weather event, it takes time, effort, and a big-picture view to suss that out. In the other direction, climate suggests what sort of weather to expect but it doesn’t define it, any more than observing the sun rise 10,000 times guarantees the sun will forever rise over the horizon.

Anthropomorphic climate change is a prediction or theory about how and why climate changes, specifically that human beings are altering the environment and thus the climate as well. This change trends towards warmer global temperatures, not in drastic ways that’s easy for humans to see, nor in the same way in every place, but to a slow and gradual increase overall.

With me? Now let’s swap “climate change” for “patriarchy.” Not “climate,” mind, but “climate change;” the former is a mere average, while the latter is a specific prediction about that average. “Climate” would actually map to “societal structures,” while “weather” becomes “individual actions.” Let’s try this:

Individual actions are what happen at any one given time, whereas societal structures are an average of individual actions, over time. You can’t really judge what societal structures are from a specific individual, it takes time, effort, and a big-picture view to suss that out. In the other direction, societal structures suggest what sort of individual actions to expect but don’t define them, any more than observing the sun rise 10,000 times guarantees the sun will forever rise over the horizon.

Patriarchy is a prediction or theory about how and why society is structured, specifically that people of certain sexes, genders, and sexualities are favored over others. This trends towards cisgendered heterosexual men having the greatest benefit, not in drastic ways that’s easy for individuals to see, nor in the same way in every place, but a subtle and pervasive bias nonetheless.

It’s a marvelous metaphor, and the above barely explores it. How do we solve anthropomorphic climate change? Certainly not by ourselves, nor by the actions of the people hardest hit by it; instead, the people who are contributing to the problem bear a disproportionate responsibility in solving it, for fairly obvious reasons. They won’t be happy to help, in general, so the rest of us will probably face some backlash for trying to hold them to their responsibilities.

Having said that, the more we all work together, the easier it is to tackle climate change. We also need good, unbiased science to help us analyze the problem, from experts who’ve studied it in detail. We also need to trust them, to some extent, because the sheer scope of the situation is not only beyond what any one person can comprehend, it’s even beyond what any one expert. Hyper-skepticism helps no-one. Nor does over-reliance on one expert; a multitude of them are required, and even then we should expect what they say to be somewhat confusing and even contradictory at times.

The changes we need to make will be deep and systemic. Areas that benefited from anthropomorphic climate change will probably lose out, in the process. That’s not ideal, but their loss will be offset by the gain of others. These changes may seem baffling or unfair, but that should be due to a layperson’s limited understanding. A little education should be enough to clarify matters, but there are far more laypeople than experts; you should be prepared to roll up your sleeves and learn on your own, as it’s easy to swamp the experts via the masses bombarding them with questions. Patience and understanding are a must.

What did I tell you? Marvelous. I hope I can invoke it more often in future.

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