Scientist: Women, stop destroying the planet!

Sir David King says women interested in reducing global warming should stop checking out men in Ferraris.

By Carol Lloyd

Published December 18, 2007 9:19PM (EST)

Hey, gals! Do you get all hot and bothered when you see a guy in a Ferrari? Britain's top government scientist has a message for you: You're destroying the planet.

Wired observed that Sir David King commented in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that governments can only do so much to curb carbon emissions: "I was asked at a lecture by a young woman about what she could do and I told her stop admiring young men in Ferraris." He explained that governments were good instruments for controlling business emissions, but "as soon as you come to the individual, however, they will buy a Ferrari, not because it is cheap to run or has low carbon-dioxide emissions, but because young women think it is sexy to see men driving Ferraris."

Not surprisingly, a certain special-interest group went batty. I'm not talking about women. I'm talking about the offended Ferrari lovers. The Ferrari Owners Club went on the record claiming that 90 percent of its owners are married and "not looking to impress women by buying their car."

So the wounded Ferrari-philes have had their say. But do King's comments strike anyone else as repugnant for another reason?

Don't get me wrong. I understand he was speaking metaphorically. The panting ditz who goes all wobbly-kneed when her man revs a car that produces four times the carbon dioxide of a Prius is a metaphor for our cultural appreciation of excess. But pulease, metaphor or no metaphor, it's rude. At the very least it suggests that a macho proclivity for overconsumption can somehow be traced to women's appreciation of such things.

I know, there's nothing like inflammatory rhetoric to get one's point across. And King's aggressive stance on climate control deserves a ton of credit: He persuaded the government to adopt the Prius as the government vehicle and pushed the U.K. to go beyond the limits of the Kyoto Protocol. But Sir dude, as you attempt to save the planet's atmosphere, can't you broaden your metaphorical horizons?

Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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