Broken records and CPA events 2016
CPA’s main event of 2016, on climate leadership, will be taking place in London on 19th November. The full title is The Psychology of Climate Action – New Perspectives on Leadership. The conference will begin with an In Conversation between Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion and Paul Hoggett, Chairman of CPA. This will be followed by four talks, two by guest speakers and two by CPA members. For full details, please see the attached flyer and booking form. As usual, a 20% discount will be available to CPA members and we think that the event offers excellent value to all.
The image for the event is of a murmuration of starlings. This amazing and beautiful example of coordination in the natural world seems a fitting symbol as we humans struggle to understand and cooperate in the face of existential threats.
More dates for your diary:
- 18th June 2016 CPA’s Members’ Day As usual, this will be free to members and will include a guest talk on a relevant topic. Details will follow shortly.
- 10th September 2016: a commemoration of the life and work of Harold Searles, the psychoanalyst who died last year and who showed remarkable prescience in highlighting the importance of how we relate to the non-human world. Further details will follow shortly.
- Late September 2016 we are pleased to be hosting a talk in Bristol (venue to be confirmed) by Donna Orange, a leading North American proponent of Intersubjective Psychoanalysis, whose new book Climate Crisis, Psychoanalysis & Radical Ethics will be published by Routledge this summer.
These announcements may seem a bit like buses all coming at once, but they do demonstrate how hard CPA’s organisers work to arrange interesting events and fertile ground for discussion.
The almost daily news of temperature records and shrinking ice cover is in danger of numbing our capacities to remark or respond. Bill McKibben in the Boston Globe reminds us how serious the numbers are, with all due allowance for the El Nino effect, and he contrasts them with the insulting trivia of the USA Republican nomination circus. Climate Central follows up with the observation that 2016 is off to a scorching start. Mashable reports the extent of current anomalies in the Arctic.
Producing this newsletter leads to an increasing amount of correspondence. Nick Breeze, in his extensive coverage of climate science and the policy discussions arising from it, recently referred to the Arctic as “the theatre of despair”, a variation on Antonin Arnaud’s “Theatre of Cruelty”. One of Nick’s areas of special interest is the desperation that is driving some scientists to discuss geoengineering, as evidenced in his Anderson-Hunt interview featured in the February newsletter. Expect to hear more about this; we should be disturbed.
About two thirds of visitors to our website are based in the USA. Richard Pauli from Seattle made contact initially in response to coverage here of Exxon Mobil’s climate deceptions, pointing out that to suborn a criminal act is not in itself a crime in the USA, even if the consequences – decades of time-wasting – make the company’s behaviour heinous beyond comparison. He implicitly agrees with George Marshall’s caveats against enemy narratives, given that fossil fuel use is embedded in our culture. Exxon may be the devil but we must face the pact we’ve made with him. And fear is one of the devils within. To quote Richard’s own words: “We are all together, some inward directed, some looking outside. Some alarmed and speaking to the issue – we all have a right to know – because fairly distributed fear is tolerably better.”
A Troubling Contradiction
A reminder that we have already and unintentionally geoengineered our climate and created a kind of no win situation for ourselves comes in this report by Carbon Brief that cuts in sulphate particle air pollution have already boosted Arctic temperatures by 0.5 degrees C. It has frequently been observed that a sudden end to air travel would result in a big spike in global temperature, despite the fact that drastic emission reduction remains a necessity to curtail long term heating.
Last Word on Law
Before we move on from the subject of legal actions, let’s remember Our Children’s Trust and the Oregon teenagers, who are claiming a culpable failure by federal and state governments to protect them from harm. Everyone knows that such actions are problematic, in a way that connects indirectly with the enemy narrative issue. But in Holland a comparable action was won; further, the greatest significance may lie in the fact that people are mobilizing in their condemnation of the establishment and their elders for failure to act on climate change. There may be more hope in the young finding their own voice than in their parents and grandparents bemoaning the world we are bequeathing them. Better still is a meeting of all concerned voices through initiatives such as Our Children’s Trust.
From Protest to Cultural Transformation
In this interview with Digital Development Debates, Rob Hopkins tells how he took with him to Paris not policy papers but 21 stories of people who have taken transformative action in their communities. He describes the reactions he got from COP 21 delegates - that we so need those stories. They celebrate the actions of people who have not waited for permission, but have just got on with projects. Rob, with eloquence and passion, argues that it’s not just about renewable energy or locally sourced food, but the enhancement of communication and relationships, a reconnecting of people with their own locality, its history and its stories. This serves to inspire and encourage. People begin to see what they’re capable of doing. It’s not fanciful to describe this as an internal revolution and as Rob says, you never know what the internal tipping points are.
This is powerfully relevant to our own November event, with its emphasis on interactive leadership, bottom-up initiatives and the role of civil society.
On behalf of the Executive Committee
PS (1) Recent new articles on the CPA website
Interview with Renée Lertzmann A talking cure for Climate-based depression
Cambridge TV interview with Renée Lertzmann Eco-melancholia
Resonance FM lecture by Sally Weintrobe followed by discussion The cultural pressure of our social groups to maintain "business as usual"
Paul Hoggett's book review Black Earth: The Holocaust as History & Warning
PS (2) As usual there is far more interesting material than can be fitted into one newsletter. The following have psychological relevance and may be of interest.