In a recent podcast, Karen O’Brien and Terry Patten discuss how different perspectives on climate change are crucial, not only for making change, but also personally for dealing with climate change challenges and impacts.
In the interview, Karen and Terry explore many themes, for instance:
How we often focus a lot of attention on adaptation to climate change impacts and we tend not to recognize that there are limits to adaptation and that we may have a lack of capacity in certain areas e.g. a lack of being able to keep up, both personally as well as institutionally. We thus need to ask ourselves: What will we lose? And why does it matter? This reflection requires an interdisciplinary perspective that can illuminate different issues from various angles.
It can help to remind ourselves that we are creating the changes, and so we can, and should, collectively respond to them. We are not separate from the world around us … and more and more people are coming to appreciate this. Climate science can often alienate us with calculations and technology, but science is also crucial to identify processes and it can act as a powerful entry point towards other solutions. Additionally, how we relate to each other, the environment, and the future are also important considerations.
Common anxieties about responding to climate change can be linked to cultural identities, the complexity of the issue, as well as historical responsibility and guilt. Emphasizing that we matter, that we can make a difference, and that we are part of the system can help us overcome these anxieties. Karen asks, how do you understand your role in the system? And how can we consciously transform at the speed, scope and scale needed? By opening up to spiritual and personal emotions about climate challenges, we may be able to allow space to better respond to overwhelming feelings.
The Three Spheres of Transformation can help us understand what we prioritize in a system (e.g. government, families, society, institutions) and what individuals value. It is then not about changing those perspectives, but rather about integrating them to potentially see and understand new approaches to solutions.
Karen stresses that climate change should not be solely reduced to individual action alone, but it is also necessary to view the existing power structures of the systems that surround us. Systems are relationships, and by rethinking our relationships we can cause a powerful shift. We need to actively challenge our own assumptions about how the world is and what we value and need.
How we organize society is an outcome of the type of thinking and understanding we have had so far of the world. Social change is not a linear process and we might soon be coming to a tipping point where we collectively agree that it’s time for a change in perspective. While some people take to activism, others are already launching alternatives and shaping pathways for a new paradigm.
State of Emergence is a podcast by A New Republic of the Heart with Terry Patten. It aims to discuss global crises and how to resolve them.
Listen to the Podcast State of Emergence (Episode 006 – Climate Change and Societal Transformation) here:
Directly on the website: State of Emergence