Clicking with Climate

Image Credit : University of California at Berkeley

Human beings have two brains. The first is a self-centred workhorse of pragmatic decision-making, interested in social engagement in order to further individual interests – whether those interests are purely for personal enrichment or for the reward of the social group more widely.

The second human brain is a relativistic engine, constantly comparing, reflecting, analysing. We are concerned about other peoples’ emotional response, wondering what other people think about us, responding to peer group pressure.

Are we more successful, popular than others ? Do people listen to us more than others ? We know we’re right, but do they ? We need to pitch ourselves in the right way. We jostle for pole position, for a place on the platform, hoping not to make too many opponents, whilst making more converts to our point of view.

Personally, I don’t listen to my second brain very often. As a social animal, I hope I’m tolerant, and my priorities in interpersonal engagement are mutual empowerment, transparent collaboration and inclusion. In my public projection, I’m not trying to vaunt myself over others, or massage my image for approval, or put up a fake facade. You get me, you get direct.

But I can’t avoid the second human brain entirely – as it is the reason for a lot of fuzziness in our view of the world around us. It’s too easy to stir doubt, falsehoods and bad ideas into the collective cake mix of society, where it fizzes into a bubbling mess. In matters of climate change science and energy engineering, there are no grey areas for me. But for a number of people I know, these are subjects of much confusion, denial and disinformation.

People hold on to the totem of what other people think. And so you have even very intelligent social commentators reciting from paid-for public relations by companies and business pressure groups. Journalists often do not appear to understand the difference between pseudo-science and real live science. There are too many people selling unrealistic, unworkable technological “solutions”, particularly in energy, so it’s hard to know what to accept and what to dismiss.

Yet it is critical to know what rock, what branch to keep a hold of in the flood of information that could sweep us away. The social construction of climate change is an important edifice, a safe house in an information world at war with itself. What high wind can sweep away the grubby pages of non-science from the Daily Mail ? What rising sea can cleanse the Daily Telegraph of its climate change denial columnists ? What can stop the so-called Global Warming Policy Foundation from infecting the Internet with their contrarian position ? What can make us accept the reality and urgency of global warming ? How can we learn to click with climate change ?

Three significant academic thinkers on the social significance of climate change are launching new works at the British Library in London, on 16th January 2012. The British Sociological Association have invited Mike Hulme, John Urry and Gordon Walker to discuss chapters from their recent books which address the question – where next for society and climate change ?

In the words of Chris Shaw at the University of Sussex, “they pull no punches in their analyses, and their approach is based on years of research into the social dimensions of the climate change debate. This is an essential opportunity for all those interested in bringing climate change into the democratic sphere, to help understand the issues involved in such a transition. It is also a chance to discuss the ideas with the authors and other delegates.”

For more information, see here and here.

3 thoughts on “Clicking with Climate”

  1. You really are amazing Jo – not in a good way mind.

    You profess to be a Christian yet call for a version of “democracy” that will:-

    “What high wind can sweep away the grubby pages of non-science from the Daily Mail ? What rising sea can cleanse the Daily Telegraph of its climate change denial columnists ? What can stop the so-called Global Warming Policy Foundation from infecting the Internet with their contrarian position ? What can make us accept the reality and urgency of global warming ? How can we learn to click with climate change ?”

    You miss the point – people have “clicked” with Climate Change – they have seen how people like you act as Spin Doctors for a version of the truth tenuous at best – a lie at its worst.

    Democracy at its best ALLOWS for each to have their say, each to have a voice.

    You should be ashamed.

  2. Doug, I think that you are being a bit hard on Jo. She is a true believer and will do whatever it takes, even at great personal cost to herself.
    While these people can be a real pain sometimes, her only problem is that she is on the wrong side.

    If Jo ever wised up and saw the AGW story for what it really is she would be a great asset to society. She is someone of principle, even if she goes a little far in some regards.

    As for the rhetoric about banning other views, while that is deplorable, others have taken it much further and called for sceptics to be gaoled as a threat against society. Those latter types do worry me far more than Jo. Why? Because almost no one on this site agrees with her about the AGW story and she lets it all go through. Actions speak louder than words. if this site were like any proAGW site no critical(sceptical) comments would get through, at least without copping a serve on the way through. I just hope that one day she “clicks” and sees how the real powers are using the idealism of many like her for their own purposes. She thinks it’s about nasty “big oil” whereas it is more likely about “big finance” wanting a carbon trade.
    Jo has a highly developed social conscience(however that term may be understood) and her heart is in the right place, one day she may “click” and understand that the poor will be the ones to really cop the cost of this idiotic story. The idea of African or Indian farmers having to pay for carbon credits to Wall St bankers hasn’t really “clicked” with her yet but if that thought ever sinks in I expect to see her do a 180 degree about face on the issue.

    Here’s hoping! Cheers Ron

  3. I do agree Ron.

    Jo is at least someone who allows those of us who question the dogma to actually engage!

    For that she has my admiration and I endorse all that you say about Jo

    And Jo – I do mean that.

    What gets to me tho’ is those that seem to be “on a mission” regularly seem to advocate manipulation of the democratic, free speech and “proper” scientific methodology because they “believe” that they are right and, presumably therefore, the end justifies the means.

    And for that, they really should be ashamed, and that after a post like the one above, does include Jo. Like you, I hope that Jo looks at things in a more open, Christian way.

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