Strategies of Communication on Climate Change

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Climate change in a perverse culture

"Engaging with Climate Change"; edited by Sally Weintrobe, is a beautiful book written by people who care about the world, about nature, and about the well being of all humans. A refreshing lecture in a debate based on hate and personal attacks. It goes to the heart of the matter, to the way the human mind reacts to the perspectives of climate change, as shown in this excerpt from the chapter by Paul Hoggett.

Perverse thinking
by Paul Hoggett - excerpt from "Engaging with Climate Change" (Rutledge 2013) (highlights in boldface by The Frog)

One problem facing citizens in the developed world is that we are cursed by our knowledgeability. Information saturates the world in which we live, and as a consequence we cannot but help know about things we would rather not know about: things such as global inequality and poverty, or massacres and pogroms, some of which, as in Bosnia, occur on our very doorstep. In his compelling book "States of Denial", Stan Cohen argues forcefully that in post-Holocaust society organized denial has become a crucial mechanism for sustaining citizen apathy in the face of violence, injustice and disaster. We 'know' and yet we seem to be ill-equipped to bear the pain of what we know. In the perverse state of mind, reality is not rejected outright but is simultaneously acknowledged and disavowed.

Hoggett then goes on describing the "perverse" states of the mind that lead to apathy: skepticism, turning a blind eye, internal propaganda and more. He concludes that:

... perverse thinking... has been greatly facilitated by the spread of virtualism in economic and social life. I have speculated that such perversity may have infected the practice of politics itself, leading to a kind of virtual or "as if" politics in which enormous energy is put into the specification of objectives, targets and indicators and the corresponding demonstration that one's performance is moving towards such targets. ... the attempts to reach international agreement around climate change, first embodied in the Kyoto Protocol and more recently in the failed Copenhagen Summit, in some ways bear an uncanny resemblance to such perverse forms of politics, as though government actors themselves no longer know whether they are simulating or not.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the Perversion, Pretense, Propaganda and Paralysis all go nicely together and nicely reinforce and Perpetuate one another. (the 5-P's of disaster?)