msb ~052 A moral maze

A moral maze   

maze work

I rarely listen to BBC Radio’s The Moral Maze. The sound of the panellists’ un-mazelike certainties clashing off each other grates on my nerves too quickly. But yesterday’s programme on climate change and the IPCC 1.5C report contained a lot more sense than I’d expected and a useful spectrum of viewpoints to explore, even though (or because) they were never going to meet. Continue reading “msb ~052 A moral maze”

msb ~050 Truth and story

Truth and story  

Truth claims

A few years back, I helped novelist Clare George with some of her public writing workshops, Imagine There’s a Future. Speakers shared their climate change work, writers discussed scenarios and wrote new stories. For me, this was a powerful introduction to the value of creative work on our climate predicament, for writers and readers. Clare describes how the stories came from very diverse authors working together. “Climate change campaigners sat next to climate change sceptics and openly discussed their most heartfelt fears and dreams in ways that would not have been possible without the help of fiction.” Continue reading “msb ~050 Truth and story”

msb ~049 Last call?

Last call?  

Last call for reality

As the BBC reported before today’s IPPC special report, “for decades, researchers argued the global temperature rise must be kept below 2C by the end of this century to avoid the worst impacts. But scientists now argue that keeping below 1.5C is a far safer limit for the world. Everyone agrees that remaining below that target will not be easy.” Going for Gold in the Understatements Olympics? Continue reading “msb ~049 Last call?”

msb ~047 Climate grief

Climate grief

Climate grief, the emotional reality of global warming

I’m putting final touches to the next ClimateCultures post. Our latest author is writing on the topic of climate grief, and that’s sent me into other reading on the web in search of extra resources to support her post. I came across a graphic story from artist Perrin Ireland where, in a couple of dozen drawings, she captures some of the weight of anxiety, foreboding and, yes, grief that climate activists — even the simply ‘climate aware’ — can feel weighing them down. Reality is hardest for those facing dire times in the here-and-now, of course; but anticipated realities can be hard for the presently comfortable. Ireland finishes with a hint on how to take it head on: together, rather than alone. Continue reading “msb ~047 Climate grief”

msb ~045 Future forest, plastic tide

Future forest, plastic tide

Future forest?

So far, I’ve only managed to watch 30 minutes of the BBC’s excellent Drowning in Plastic: impossible to stomach the full hour-and-a-half at once. Footage of shearwaters dying from the plastics their parents unwittingly fed them is, appropriately, gut-wrenching: the animals as oblivious to their plight as we are to our hour-by-hour petrochemical churn that creates it. So – like the other recent BBC 90 minutes on landfill – I’ll be taking this in chunks. But the first viewing leaves me wondering how to respond to another plastics piece today, on a colourful ‘future forest’ made entirely from three tons of recycled plastic waste… Continue reading “msb ~045 Future forest, plastic tide”

msb ~044 The haunting

The haunting   

haunting presence

There are no natural sources of polychlorinated biphenyls only natural sinks, such as Killer Whales and other predators. As such, PCBs are part of the pattern of whorls and loops that make up the human fingerprints we’re learning to understand as the Anthropocene: spooky fingerprints that circulate around us within other living beings. Continue reading “msb ~044 The haunting”

msb ~043 Palliative curation

Palliative curation  

heritage beyond saving

I value my memory of the blistering critique I received when speaking to environmental experts about sometimes having to ‘let go’ of loved sites of natural or cultural heritage as the contradictions of trying to ‘hold back’ historic climate change become starker: “Wooly-minded fudge!” Particular scorn came when I mentioned ‘palliative curation’. Many of the ideas we’re going to have to explore are contentious, even provocative, so my only complaint is that I’d done a poor job explaining the possibilities.  Continue reading “msb ~043 Palliative curation”

msb ~035 Ecosystems and Boundary Objects

Ecosystems and Boundary Objects

Boundary Objects

I wasn’t able to attend GroundWork Gallery’s Restore? Conserve? Rewild? but enjoyed ClimateCultures’ review. This exploration of different responses to environmental predicaments included contentious Ecosystem Services approaches. Although it’s common ground that ‘nature’ provides benefits to ‘society’, which government, business and populations undervalue and undermine, controversy arises when we’re asked to translate these into a common value: cash. Continue reading “msb ~035 Ecosystems and Boundary Objects”

msb ~033 Room for comedy?

Room for comedy?

‘Major Ramifications Ahead’

Googling ‘comedy in climate change’ produced just one result: this 2015 piece from Australian comedian Andrew Denton. ‘Comedy about climate change’ produced over 21,000 – still low, but we already knew there’s not a whole lot of laughs in the reality. But if you get one hit for a search you’d really better read it, and I enjoyed Denton’s article. Continue reading “msb ~033 Room for comedy?”

msb ~032 Mutually Assured Destruction

Mutually Assured Destruction

The 1980s: odd times

Scratching around the loft’s eaves today — on hands and knees, in torchlight, insulation dust and ancient spider webs as I hunted the cable to a dodgy switch in the bathroom below, I wasn’t thinking of the ‘good old days’ of Cold War claustrophobia. But reading just now about the network of nuclear bunkers that crisscrossed the UK between the 1950s and 1990s, I was almost taken in by the nostalgic tone of Kate Ravilious’ piece for Atlas Obscura. She visited abandoned, decayed outposts restored as visitor attractions: small spaces of uncanny normality projected into the most abnormal of all futures: post-thermonuclear meltdown. What they really represented, of course, was the seemingly infinitely extendable insanity of their present: planned-for Mutually Assured Destruction. Continue reading “msb ~032 Mutually Assured Destruction”