Oppositional vocabulary is attractive, powerful, often necessary. But focusing on conflict “limits our collective imagination about what we can do to fix complex problems.” Wars on poverty, drugs, terror? None has been won. Can you wage war on a predicament?Continue reading “msb ~099 A war on simplicity?”
Along with everything else, there’s that deep sadness when you realise you’re never going to have a conversation with someone ever again. I learned the other day that Chris West, my old boss at UKCIP, died recently and I immediately thought of his humour, patience and enthusiasm. And of a short passage in Nancy Campbell’s The Library of Ice, which I’d read last month and where I’d rediscovered Chris in this perfect anecdote:
“At a climate conference in London a few weeks ago I paired up, during the one-minute speed-meeting session, with an amiable, bearded scientist, who told me that he’d held a piece of the Vostok ice core in the palm of his hand. Chris used up his whole minute describing the experience. ‘The thing is, it fizzed,’ he said. ‘It was melting with the warmth of my palm, and the air was under such pressure that it exploded out of its ice pockets. It fizzed,’ he repeated, ‘then it melted, and I just wiped it on my shirt.’ He passes his hand across the checked cotton covering his chest, an expression of mild bewilderment on his face as he relives his Keplerian encounter with a 20,000-year-old piece of ice.”Continue reading “msb ~088 Remembering Chris West”
“To access and activate our most radical potentials as a storytelling species,” the AdaptationCONNECTS project has issued an innovative call for short stories of ‘our entangled future’: stories to engage our imaginations with ‘quantum social change’ in the face of our accelerating climate crisis. “We need stories that confront the limitations of a dualistic, deterministic, and inanimate worldview and instead offer insights into a reality that is connected, entangled, uncertain, and ripe with possibility – a world of complementarity, non-locality, and potentiality.” Their call places an important emphasis on “the power of language, meaning, and metaphors to create a new reality.”Continue reading “msb ~087 Our entangled future”
We’ve all had scarring (non)conversations with people who hold very ‘contrary’ views on climate change. Also, unchallenging ones with our own tribe. Flame wars vs echo chamber? Perhaps there’s a Map of Temperaments as to which type we each enjoy most in different company; but, more importantly, I like this handy guide from Karin Kirk at Yale Climate Connections, on a ‘spectrum of persuadability’ of those pushing back on climate change.Continue reading “msb ~083 Between the flame wars and the echo chamber”
A conversation today reminded me of a workshop I joined last year, where we created audio art from climate data. Climate Symphony Lab tapped into public interest in, but confusion with, science to make new ways to internalise what environmental change ‘looks’ (or sounds) like. Climate data: climate art. Actually being in on debates on what to include and exclude, which available technologies to use (instruments, laptops, voices, feet, breath, tearing paper?) was unusual, enlivening and unsettling. It brought a direct, participative responsibility to what can be seen as quite distant, individualist artistic practices — and even more distant, communal practices of science.Continue reading “msb ~076 Climate data: climate art”
This old but excellent Discard Studies post demonstrates how, in transforming choices for greater sustainability, our focus should be on infrastructures that produce waste etc or lock in unsustainable consumer choices further down the line. In contrast, our usual focus on making individuals ‘aware’ – despite its merits – depends on many steps, reaches a limited number of people and has to battle against those same infrastructures. “Focusing on these systems for change actually scales up to the scale of the problem.” Continue reading “msb ~063 The problem with awareness”
I’ve mentioned the book Anticipatory history and how I keep returning to it. The term also describes a loose collection of approaches that extend beyond the book’s collection of texts, each a means to open up conversations about change in places we feel deep attachment to, now facing uncertain futures.
To help us bring in new perspectives when we try to make sense of change, ‘anticipatory history’ approaches might include:
Looking imaginatively at past changes and at the contingencies which underlined (and could have undermined) the events and actions that shaped what it is now. Examples are reverse chronologies, timelines, oral histories and artistic representations.
Taking a fresh look at the language we use to talk about the natural and cultural processes at play. The book itself provides one way into this, as a form of glossary arising from a dialogue between specialisms.
Imagining and naming unfamiliar or new ways of living with change that might be adopted in this place.
I’ve been enjoying this post looking from the IPCC 1.5C report to the next intergovernmental climate conference, COP24 in Poland next month. I think Sarah Sutton’s choice of two words has impact: ‘ambition’ and ‘bravery’. COP21 agreed the goal of limiting the global rise to 1.5C; can COP24 agree a plan? As Sarah says, “for complex geopolitical entities, and highly-complex problems, setting goals while the path remains unfocused is how you establish ambition – the contagious desire to achieve more than ever before.”Continue reading “msb ~055 Brave ambition”