A Fruitless Endeavour

Confronting the heteronormativity of environmentalism

Authored by: Cameron Butler

Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415707749
eBook ISBN: 9781315886572
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315886572.ch18

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Abstract

With its focus on saving the planet for ‘our’ children and grandchildren, sustainability is arguably about as ‘straight’ a political project as one can imagine. Emotional appeals to save future generations from ecological catastrophe are commonplace in high-level environmental conferences. In the opening ceremonies of the annual COPs to the UNFCC, for example, videos portraying pleading children regularly serve to underscore the notion that taking urgent action to stop the climate crisis is a non-optional moral duty. The assembled policy makers are focused on a family-oriented future almost as narrowly as a closeted man denying his homosexual urges. Of course they are motivated to tackle climate change out of concern for their own lives and families, but it is important to consider the implications of this broader framing. What ideological work does this child- and future-centric rhetoric do for the green cause? Upon what assumptions is it based, and whom does it include or exclude from its frame?

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