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March 07, 2016

Let's Go On a Science Adventure Together

From Powerline, this hot identity politics mess of a Jezebel blogpost on glaciers.

JeffB. says this cost You over $400,000 in grant money to produce.

Don't forget that as you read.

Glaciers, gender, and science

A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research

Mark Carey
M Jackson
Alessandro Antonello
Jaclyn Rushing
University of Oregon, USA

Mark Carey, Robert D. Clark Honors College, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA. Email:


Glaciers are key icons of climate change and global environmental change. However, the relationships among gender, science, and glaciers – particularly related to epistemological questions about the production of glaciological knowledge – remain understudied. This paper thus proposes a feminist glaciology framework with four key components: 1) knowledge producers; (2) gendered science and knowledge; (3) systems of scientific domination; and (4) alternative representations of glaciers. Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions.

This is not a parody. Powerline thought it was, but the lead author is an associate dean at the University of Oregon.

I Introduction

Glaciers are icons of global climate change, with common representations stripping them of social and cultural contexts to portray ice as simplified climate change yardsticks and thermometers. In geophysicist Henry Pollack’s articulation, 'Ice asks no questions, presents no arguments, reads no newspapers, listens to no debates. It is not burdened by ideology and carries no political baggage as it crosses the threshold from solid to liquid. It just melts' (Pollack, 2009: 114). This perspective appears consistently in public discourse, from media to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But the 'ice is just ice' conceptualization contrasts sharply with conclusions by researchers such as Cruikshank (2005), who asks if glaciers listen [!!!], Orlove et al. (2008b), who analyze the cultural framing of glaciers [!], Carey (2007), who sees an endangered species narrative applied to glaciers [!!!], Jackson (2015), who exposes how glaciers are depicted as ruins, and Sörlin (2015), who refers to the present as a cryo-historical moment because ‘ice has become historical, i.e. that ice is an element of change and thus something that can be considered as part of society and of societal concern' (Sörlin, 2015: 327).

I repeat: this is not a parody, and this cost you over $400,000.

Let's get back to debunking that "ice is just ice" claim.

Does ice listen? Let's find out.

Nüsser and Baghel (2014) also reject the 'ice is just ice' assertion. Glaciers, they argue, 'have increasingly become contested and controversial objects of knowledge, susceptible to cultural framings as both dangerous and endangered landscapes' (Nüsser and Baghel, 2014: 138)....
By the way, this is all as superficial as what a high-schooler would produce from Wikipedia searches -- assuming the high-schooler had access to academic paper databases instead of Wikipedia. But the glibness -- let me just snatch this from here, that from there -- is exactly the same.

Think about what this sentence is actually saying. No, don't just say it's "Academese" -- it is that of course. But think about what it's actually saying.

Despite their perceived remoteness, glaciers are central sites -- often contested and multifaceted -- experiencing the effects of global change, where science, policy, knowledge, and society interact in dynamic social-ecological systems.

That sentence is saying, if one reads it literally (and why shouldn't one?), that glaciers are the physical place where science, knowledge, and society interact in dynamic social-ecological systems.

No, asshole. A basement carrel at your over-charging university is where these things interact (if they do interact). A glacier is were ice and earth interact.

This is like reading Chevy Chase in Spies Like Us bullshitting his way through an academic conference with buzzwords and nonsense, and getting away with it -- humorously -- because none of his made-up nonsense is any more ridiculous than the made-up nonsense other assholes are saying.

I still don't know if glaciers listen, but we're about to find out they don't like the b-slur -- because glaciers have gender.

Come with me. Let's have a Science Adventure together.


A critical but overlooked aspect of the human dimensions of glaciers and global change research is the relationship between gender and glaciers. While there has been relatively little research on gender and global environmental change in general (Moosa and Tuana, 2014; Arora-Jonsson, 2011)...

There's a reason for that.

... there is even less from a feminist perspective that focuses on gender (understood here not as a male/female binary, but as a range of personal and social possibilities) ...

Emmett Fitz-Hume nods with a smile.

...and also on power, justice, inequality, and knowledge production in the context of ice, glacier change, and glaciology (exceptions are Bloom et al., 2008; Williams and Golovnev, 2015; Hevly, 1996; Hulbe et al., 2010; Cruikshank, 2005). Feminist theories and critical epistemologies --– especially feminist political ecology --- and feminist postcolonial science studies – open up new perspectives and analyses of the history of glaciological knowledge.

Yes, that "perspective" is the perspective of one who knows nothing about a field purporting to critique that field.

And how could we ever live without that?

What I'm kind of guessing is that these "critical epistemologies" [epistemology being the branch of philosophy concerned with how we know things] are chiefly necessary because feminists aren't actually "knowledge producers" of glacier studies; they're not going out into the field with the snow and ice, just like they ain't gettin' into STEM, period.

No, these "criticial epistemologies" are necessary because feminists have nothing to say about glaciers because they're not scientists and don't even leave their campuses, ever. But they feel that there's something in the world they're not squawking about enough, and they've picked poor glaciers as the next thing they'll pointlessly and narcissistically inject themselves into.

This is all about the fact that feminists aren't doing real science but want to be seen as doing things that look like science so they're going to sort of claim to be on the same plane as actual field glaciologists.

One cannot be a critic without, implicitly, putting oneself above the thing being criticized.

Yet another completely unwarranted assertion of superiority by feminists over, and I do love the stupidity of this word, actual "knowledge producers" and "knowlege production."

Pretty much a straight up concession that they produce no knowledge -- they just sit back in their comfy digs at university and churn out Wikipedia Book Reports like this in critique of actual "knowlege producers"

Researchers in feminist political ecology and feminist geography (e.g. Sultana, 2014; Mollett and Faria, 2013; Elmhirst, 2011; Coddington, 2015) have also called for studies to move 'beyond gender', to include analyses of power, justice, and knowledge production as well as'‘to unsettle and challenge dominant assumptions' that are often embedded in Eurocentric knowledges (Harris, 2015: xx).

Apparently we're moving into ice, too.

Given the prominent place of glaciers both within the social imaginary of climate change and in global environmental change research, a feminist approach has important present-day relevance for understanding the dynamic relationship between people and ice -- what Nüsser and Baghel (2015) refer to as the cryoscape.

In what sense? What is the dynamic between people and ice? People actually stay well away from ice -- ice is death. So what dynamic do you mean? What dynamic could you mean?

All you mean is the dynamic of ice in people's imaginations and the dynamic of ice and presumably male field glacier researchers.

Look, Missy, if you want to really put you feminist perspective on ice, why don't you stop whining and pick up an ice-core screw and join the team in taking samples up in northern Finland?

Through a review and synthesis of a multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging literature on human-ice relations, this paper proposes a feminist glaciology framework to analyze human-glacier dynamics, glacier narratives and discourse, and claims to credibility and authority of glaciological knowledge through the lens of feminist studies.

As I said earlier: Someone is getting a little earned spotlight time due to actually being a "knowledge producer" by actually producing knowledge about glaciers, and feminists can't take this, because they should get an equal amount of the spotlight, despite producing no knowledge about anything, and particularly none about glaciers.

Thus, the challenge to the "credibility and authority of glaciological knowledge."

By the way, to even do this nonsense, they're going to have to re-define "glaciology" to not mean actual glaciology to mean things which are not glaciology -- because of course a non-expert can only challenge an expert by saying "Let's take a more global, less glacier-focused, view of glaciers."

The only way a bullshitter wins is to move the conversation away from the tangible and real (of which he knows nothing) and into "meta" concerns (of which he also knows very little, but the subject itself is so bullshitty he can fight to a draw).

As a point of departure, we use 'glaciology' in an encompassing sense that exceeds the immediate scientific meanings of the label, much as feminist critiques of geography, for example, have expanded what it is that "geography’' might mean vis-à-vis geographic knowledge (Domosh, 1991; Rose, 1993). As such, feminist glaciology has four aspects: (1) knowledge producers, to decipher how gender affects the individuals producing glacier-related knowledges; (2) gendered science and knowledge, to address how glacier science, perceptions, and claims to credibility are gendered; (3) systems of scientific domination, to analyze how power, domination, colonialism, and control -- undergirded by and coincident with masculinist ideologies -- have shaped glacier-related sciences and knowledges over time; and (4) alternative representations, to illustrate diverse methods and ways --beyond the natural sciences and including what we refer to as 'folk glaciologies' [!!!!== to portray glaciers and integrate counter-narratives into broader conceptions of the cryosphere.

Why change what "glaciology" means? Here's a theory: Because there was government money available for actual hard-science, take-a-core-sample glaciology, and to get that money, you have to pretend to be doing "glaciology." So this crew comes in, files for the grant money claiming to be writing about glaciology, but then, in their introduction, changes the meaning of the word to talk about what they always talk about -- power relationships between the sexes.

An academic hustle, sort of, then.

This grant was provided by the National Science Foundation -- yet in that last paragraph, these people admit they're not going to be talking about the science of actual glaciology but of post-modern criticism about how glaciers are perceieved or talked about.

One can say whatever one likes about post-modernism-- but this crap is definitely not science. So why is over $400,000 intended for actual science going towards this crap?

Well, a grant was available, and the grant-writers wrote up something that would sort of sound "sciency."

Okay, I'm done. I'll just leave you with this:

II Why feminist glaciology?

Feminist glaciology asks how knowledge related to glaciers is produced, circulated, and gains credibility and authority across time and space. It simultaneously brings to the forefront glacier knowledge that has been marginalized or deemed 'outside' of traditional glaciology. It asks how glaciers came to be meaningful and significant (through what ontological and epistemological process), as well as trying to destabilize underlying assumptions about ice and environment through the dismantling of a host of boundaries and binaries. The feminist lens is crucial given the historical marginalization of women, the importance of gender in glacier-related knowledges, and the ways in which systems of colonialism, imperialism, and patriarchy co-constituted gendered science. Additionally, the feminist perspective seeks to uncover and embrace marginalized knowledges and alternative narratives, which are increasingly needed for effective global environmental change research, including glaciology (Castree et al., 2014; Hulme, 2011). A combination of feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology provide the intellectual foundation for feminist glaciology.

There are two levels one can read that at.

The first level sees it as gobedlygook. This is the typical level people tell you to read this crap at, and then jeer and laugh at it.

I urge you to look past that level, and really read it to understand what they're claiming.

Because that's even worse, and even more ridiculous than actual meaningless gibberish.

Whenever someone says "Let's not talk about X, let's talk about the idea of X," you can be sure of three things:

1. That person is almost entirely ignorant of X.

2. You are in for some next-level bullshit and cheap word-association hijinks to cover up for the fact that person is almost entirely ignorant of X.

3. That person is a narcissist who does not feel comfortable unless he is the center of attention, and considers it akin to psychical suicide to just admit "You know, I don't really know much about X; why don't you tell me what you know, so I can learn?"

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