Naomi Klein is again in the thick of things.
Following her appointment to Pope Francis’s climate change team, she made two typically pithy comments:
“A lot of people patted the pope on the head, but said he’s wrong on the economics. I think he’s right on the economics.”
“There’s a way in which the UN discourse sanitises the extent to which this is a moral crisis It cries out for a moral voice.”
The alliances being struck at the moment are impressive. CPA itself was founded on a vision that responses to the climate and ecological threats must transcend many rivalries and differences. On a far more public stage, the agreement by these two people to work together is remarkable. In a similar vein was the statement by leading figures in the three Abrahamic faiths that there is no conflict between those faiths and the science of climate change. It would be good to think that Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma will pause to reconsider his infamous insistence that only God can change the climate.
2015 was flagged by some as the year when climate change denial would cease to be feasible. The subject is surely getting harder to ignore or dismiss and the global campaign for action that is proportionate to the scale and urgency of the threat seems at last to have both force and momentum. The “collision” referred to by Klein and discussed in earlier CPA newsletters (see December 2014) may finally be happening. The parallel and contradictory realities – one, a world powered by fossil fuels and the other, a survival imperative to wean ourselves off them may at last be losing their capacity to coexist in a schizoid fashion. The implications for climate psychology will surely be profound.
David Attenborough’s interview with Barack Obama, which was screened on BBC TV last month covered well established ground. It highlighted how hard it is for people to comprehend a problem of such scale and depth. Attenborough also dwelt on another fault line, that of an increasingly urbanised human population that is ignorant of nature and our dependence on it. But were he and Obama also putting excessive faith in the techno-fix of powering our energy-hungry civilisation with renewables?
Attenborough, in that he is a widely trusted and respected communicator, presumably ticks one of George Marshall’s boxes, when it comes to swaying public opinion. The material is here for those of you unable to attend our members’ Day on 6th June, or want to re-visit the talk.
In the field of law too, it was a memorable month. The success of Urgenda’s case obliging the Dutch government to strengthen its emission reduction target has sent shock waves round the world and raised questions about when and where the next case of the kind will be brought. Can any of us fail to be moved and excited at the thought that Polly Higgins’ call to arms “The Earth Needs a Good Lawyer” (CPA conference 2013) is starting to be realised? Here are links to articles on the Dutch case and the prospect of further legal action in Europe.
Bridging the realms of law and public opinion was the Lancashire County Council decision to refuse permission for fracking at two sites, in the face of both Cuadrilla’s and the government’s determination. This article suggests that the government, having gone out of its way to encourage protestors against wind power, is heading for charges of hypocrisy if it goes further down the route of coercion and bribery to advance fracking.
Two events are coming up that you might be interested in. The one day seminar When the Heart Can’t Contain What the Mind Can See will now be held on Saturday October 24th at Birkbeck College, London (nb the change of date from earlier provisional publicity about this event). This event is jointly sponsored by the Climate Psychology Alliance and the Psychosocial Studies Association. Details of the event will follow soon. (Read subsequent report on event) Secondly here is early warning of what looks like an exciting event organised by Confer, the provider of seminars and courses for psychotherapists - a one day conference in London on Saturday 21st November called The Psychology of Inspired Collective Climate Change Action.
Finally, Renee Lertzman’s book Environmental Melancholia: Psychological Dimensions of Engagement is now available from Routledge.
(On behalf of the Exec. Committee)