We describe the climate as being in “crisis”, GHGs wreaking “havoc” on the planet’s ecology, and temperature rises as “extreme” and “dangerous” (e.g. in the IMF’s 2019 Winter Issue of Finance & Development, p. 2, (1)). These bold, evocative adjectives are certainly accurate, but they seem to fall on deaf ears and lack the emotional impact one would expect.
Perhaps people have become desensitised to this framing of climate change, the constant stream of powerful adjectives now having no emotional effect at all.
Perhaps climate change is too enormous an issue to be understood by our measly little human minds.
Perhaps we see the climate as something separate from ourselves, something “over there”, that doesn’t involve us, rather than nature being something within which society is embedded (2).
Or perhaps the climate “crisis” is too often framed as an ethical issue involving conceptual arguments around the ethics of protecting biodiversity and ecological systems; vegans and animal rights activists can confirm how difficult it is to convince people of the unethical implications of their everyday lifestyles and the uphill struggle of getting them to care about ethical issues that they’ve never considered before.
The next few blog posts will be about how we can reframe climate change in fresh, new ways, to breathe life into a subject that bores a lot of people. This will hopefully reveal some obscure yet consequential implications of climate change, and inspire campaigners and policy makers to tailor their climate change arguments for who they’re talking to.
(1) International Monetary Fund (2019). The Economics of Climate. Finance & Development, December. 56(4).
(2) Morton, Timothy (2013). Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World. s.l.: University of Minnesota Press.