THANK you, Andrew Tate.

At first, I thought I might start this column by joining the chorus thanking Greta Thunberg for the sharp way she skewered misogynist influencer Andrew Tate when he taunted her over Twitter, boasting of the “enormous emissions” of his 33-car collection and asking for her email address so he could furnish her with a full list.

Her reply was such a winner, one of the top 10 most-liked tweets of all time, with its: “Yes, please do enlighten me. email me at”

But then, I realised that I also wanted to thank Tate himself – for it was the wilful idiocy of his statement that drew to the surface, like a bursting boil, the way in which what’s often called toxic masculinity is not just a threat to women, and men, but also to our planet.

For those of you who don’t know who Tate is, a quick primer. The US-born former kickboxer is one of the most decorated light-heavyweight fighters in the world, and is now a self-styled men’s lifestyle leader whose statements of extreme misogyny have led to him being banned from TikTok, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

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Among his dark pearls of wisdom has been that women who are sexually assaulted need to shoulder “some responsibility”. He also once described how he would react if a woman accused him of cheating, saying: “It’s bang out the machete, boom in her face and grip her by the neck.”

Tate’s tweet was ripe for Thunberg’s mocking for it almost seemed like parody in its planet-wrecking boastfulness. Yet it was worryingly real – and I say worryingly because I’m well aware of the influence Tate has on young men’s aspirations and fears. The first I heard about him was through my teenage sons who were aware of his videos long before I was. That Tate has the ear of so many young men has been bothering me since.

What is striking now, however, is that Tate’s life appears to have turned into a fable: one that illustrates how a particular expectation of manliness is poisoning human relationships and poisoning our planet. Last Thursday, not long after he had posted a video response to Thunberg (while sitting at a table piled with pizza boxes), he and his brother were arrested in Romania and charged with human trafficking and forming an organised crime group.

“Four suspects ... appear to have created an organised crime group with the purpose of recruiting, housing and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialised websites for a cost,” Romanian prosecutors said.

Tate denied the allegations. Social media was flooded with misinformation and conspiracy theories by Tate’s fans. Thunberg, meanwhile, tweet-quipped: “This is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes.”

Whatever emerges from this arrest, these recent events have been a reminder that when we talk about climate change and biodiversity, we also need to speak about toxic masculinity. It’s long been known that gender features in the climate change story. According to the United Nations, women and girls account for 80 per cent of those displaced as a result of climate impact.

Meanwhile, studies suggest that men have bigger carbon footprints on average than women. Women are more likely to recycle and to buy an electric car. According to one UK study, men’s meaty diets are responsible for 40% more climate-heating emissions than those of women.

I only need to look at my teenagers and their generation to see the expectations there are around boys. Young men are in pursuit of muscle mass, often through a regime of gym sessions and protein consumption – and while this could be plant-based, mostly it isn’t. Andrew Tate, for instance, has talked about following a carnivore diet, and how 85% of his daily calories come from meat.

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There is also a tendency, according to one 2018 paper, for men to resist green behaviour because they feel it is unmanly. Authors Aaron Brough and James Wilkie wrote: “Men may shun eco-friendly behaviour because of what it conveys about their masculinity. It’s not that men don’t care about the environment. But they also tend to want to feel macho, and they worry that eco-friendly behaviours might brand them as feminine.”

This is the world of masculinity in which a figure like Andrew Tate emerges as an influencer and defender of threatened maleness.

Of course, not all men are part of the problem. Many are already key in creating solutions.

Men like James Hansen and Michael Mann have been among the key scientists who have called out climate change. Here in Scotland we see figures like Richard Dixon and Mike Robinson shaping awareness.

They are embodiments of masculinity that cares. Bring on the Green Man.