This post is a bit delayed as I have been to Lakes Entrance where we have been walking and enjoying the environment without the distractions of mobile, phones, email or the net, but I do want to document what happened for me from my “slot” at the Trampoline Day on the 16th April 2011. See more about Trampoline at http://trampolineday.com/
There is a video of the session at Trampoline’s VIMEO Account: http://www.vimeo.com/22644426
The text that I prepared beforehand is first, this is followed by the responses from the group – I’d like to thank the participants here for their energetic responses and lastly are some thoughts of mine post the session.
- The prepared text was intended to provide framing for the conversation, so that we could focus, rather than range around in our 30 minute slot.Today I want to begin by saying that there has been lots of science around the question of whether humans are inducing climate change over and above what occurs naturally and that for me I want to begin today from the position that this is true and that the changes that we expect as indicated by the models that have been developed are currently coming to pass. That is, more variation more of and more extremes, in climate – cyclones, droughts, floods, fires. Further, we know also that even if we changed our systems and behaviour that there is more to come because of the systemic nature of the effects, i.e. what we do today will have effects that extend well out into the future. This, climate change, though is part of a complex web of predicaments that humanity is facing and will have to face, for example eco-system degradation through deforestation, agro-industry and urbanisation, increases in poverty, increasing reliance on technological solutions…For the purposes of today I do not want to argue about whether anthropromorphic climate change is real or not. I want to move on to consider what we can do to respond recognising that communicating about and responding to these emerging predicaments is extraordinarily complex and difficult given the different aspects that need to be taken into account as well as the accelerating dynamics.My background and experience leads me to the choice to take responsibility for what I can and that is developing a “thingy” that intervenes at individual, group, system and process levels.And so, I will be developing arguments here for individuals like yourselves and what you could do collectively to intervene in systems and processes rather than what we may expect others to do.Take first communication – the communication techniques that are being used do not seem to be working. Taking Australia for example, just a few years ago we had a broad consensus that climate change was a problem and the government had some sense of how it was going to poceed. After a sequence of events: Copenhagen, the rift that developed in the Coalition, the change of leadership of the government and the election of a minority government we are now less clear about what the problem is and what needs to be done about it. This has in part been placed at the feet of lack of communication of the complex messages that need to be passed on…Some writers (Kahan) say that we should select the “right” presenter and form up the arguments and responses in such a way that it aligns with audiences’ values.
Others say (Sandman and O’Neill & Nicholson-Cole) that catastrophic framing may be blocking more sustainable pathways leading to denial, apathy and fatalism in some and disempowering individuals.
Also, even those that we would assume agreed about the science of Climate Change continue to use words like “debate” which suggests that there are indeed two sides, that still need to be resolved.
But communication is only one part of this…
As the convenors of a symposium on re-coupling of carbon and water cycles (scientists) say the challenge is to develop a climate politics that is at once responsive to local conditions, ecologically effective, socially democratic and globally just. It should be noted here though that they did not have a process that actually allowed for working towards this – rather they are to present their views through a one-way delivery. This also is but one way of describing what is necessary and it is focused on climate, and we forget at our peril that climate is intimately connected to the earth and the things that happen on the earth.
But how do we go about getting this type of “politics” in place?
Taking the wider view when habituated in a narrow view.
Integrated view of the whole system (different perspectives) – the context or environment.
Takes time…and effort…
I have been studying deliberative democratic processes (DDP) among other things…and studies have shown that deliberative democratic processes can develop “transformation of private individuals into citizens…there is an active moment in which individuals assert creative solutions to public problems (and)…there is a reciprocal moment in which citizens…recognize the partiality of their perspectives and consequently enlarge their own interests and values in ways that generate consensus around common ends” (Fung 2007:450)
These studies have been mainly done with governments (local, state) and there was a qulitative difference in how people interact when they know the outcome is likely to be enacted (Hartz-Kapp 2004: 9-14), but it seems to me that most of our governments – local, state and federal are not taking this approach (of implementing DDPs), they do not allow power sharing with their citizens, rather they rely on polls to find out opinions relative to their positions and use the media to inform people (in a mainly unidirectional way).
So the question that is in my mind is how do we engage people in these types of processes to “assert creative solutions to public problems”, such as climate change, as well as “generate consensus around common ends” when our governments are not willing or able to do this?
Given that big companies are highly focused with huge budgets allocated to their interests, we need focused actions that influence politicians – a focused counter-strike.We need to harness everyday people – noted that GetUp is working in this space, developing awareness.Get companies to understand legislation as friend (it is in their benefit provides some security).Need to consider the relationship between Australia’s interests and other countries’ interests when we do something (in response).There are shareholder pressures on business (this may provide an opening for change).Companies are prepring to take a hit from climate change.Environment as a balance sheet item – testing and verifying (audit) money flow.There are 1 million women in households that could take the lead by using less (and saving money).
Carbon Tax was envisaged as levelling the playing field between renewables and fossil fuel.
More technology to…
We ran out of time and I ran out of headspace…so the writing stopped…but you can hear the extended conversation in the vimeo: http://www.vimeo.com/22644426 (thank you Trampoline for providing this resource – it is wonderful to have it to re-member what was said).
- My thoughts following on from the session:
It is extraordinarily hard to engage succesfully in such a short session (30 minutes) around such complex predicaments, even so there were comments that ranged across a wide territory providing some insightful reponses and food-for-thought for how to set-up some further sessions.
e.g. taking the idea of household management – it may be valuable to engage people around this idea, that is how to manage households so that there is a movement towards more sustainable living. It may be that women are more engaged in this idea than men – but I would not focus on women (rather let this emerge through the participation in the sessions).At lunch I had a conversation with someone who said he did not come to my session as he thought it would be about Carbon Tax – this was a useful comment as it is clear that for some their pre-conceptions hold them from engaging. We then had quite a long conversation about Climate Change, Carbon Tax, responses etc. Thank you to those that engaged me in this latter conversation.