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  • More women, less carbon emissions

    April 25, 2012
    by Alessandro Pasotti

    (Women linked arm-in-arm down fifth ave. to mark 50th anniversary of womestayfancyfree.blogspot.com)

    According to a new study by sociologists Christina Ergas and Richard York in nations where women’s status is higher, CO2 emissions are lower.

    Study coauthors Christina Ergas and Richard York, sociologists at the University of Oregon–Eugene, write: “even when controlling for a variety of measures of “modernization,” world-system position, and democracy, nations where women have higher political status tend to have lower CO2 emissions per capita.

    This finding suggests that efforts to improve women’s political status around the world, clearly worthy on their own merits, may work synergistically with efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and avert dramatic global climate change.”

    Ergas and York say they can’t explain why this correlation exists, but, among other potential reasons, it’s “possible that women make different decisions than do men when placed in positions of power.”

    If we want better decisions, women need to hold about one-third of decision-making positions, according to research cited by Ergas and York.

    At lower levels of representation, women’s voices may be ignored, they may feel too intimidated to comment, or they may not be particularly representative of women in general, having been selected because their views were consistent with the men in the organization.

    The Ergas/York paper includes an interesting overview of recent social science research on gender and the environment like nations with higher proportions of women in parliament ratify a greater number of environmental treaties; women in the United States demonstrate greater scientific knowledge of climate change; women tend to perceive environmental risks as more threatening; although they are not as active as men in mainstream environmental organizations, women are estimated to make up 60% to 80% of grassroots environmental organization membership.

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