Enlightening Climate Change Reading Pt. 2

The previous posts line of thinking is inspired by Naomi Klein’s interview with Leanne Simpson. She doesn’t speak scientific facts. She speaks from the heart and from a natural perspective undisturbed by mass media or scientific jargon. Indigenous people often approach climate change in the same light because they are far more in tune with the earth than we, who are more concerned with man-made instruments such as smartphones and laptops. The Samsung Note 7 faulty battery debacle has instigated deep emotional responses from those that previously owned the phone. However, when attempting to initiate a conversation on climate change, some of you may be guilty of yawning. Science does not stir feelings. Poignant writing, on the other hand, has the power to do so. 


Pala Molisa is specifically blunt as he states “… right now, we’re about 1.5 degrees above baseline. Most scientists would agree that if we go to 2 degrees above baseline, most complex life on the planet will die. We’re gone. Humanity – as a species – we’re gone.”

Leanne Simpson speaks compellingly of alternative modes of combatting climate change and refers to colonialism as a cause of the environmental issue, “Colonial thought brought us climate change. We need a new approach because the environmental movement has been fighting climate change for more than two decades and we’re not seeing the change we need. I think groups like Defenders of the Land and the Indigenous Environmental Network hold a lot of answers for the mainstream environmental movement because they are talking about large-scale transformation. If we are not, as peoples of the earth, willing to counter colonialism, we have no hope of surviving climate change. Individual choices aren’t going to get us out of this mess. We need a systemic change. Manulani Aluli Meyer was just in Peterborough—she’s a Hawaiian scholar and activist—and she was talking about punctuated transformation. A punctuated transformation [means] we don’t have time to do the whole steps and time shift, it’s got to be much quicker than that.”

A very real understanding of climate change is developed not from scientific facts but from genuine human expression. Drawing attention to these kinds of writings and opinions will hopefully incite change, whether changes in behaviour or change in perspective , it inspires change within a person. This is what the earth needs of us, to alter our physical ways by altering our mindsets. In doing so, the denialist cause will lessen as global acceptance takes its place. 



Enlightening Climate Change Reading Pt. 1

Emotive language is undoubtedly an insightful lens through which to view climate change. Impactful filmmaking on the changing climate and its effects are significant. Visuals and moving images are a powerful form of affective response. However, writing can be not only illuminating but an awakening force. We are shifting from an in-depth focus on the science in this post as well as the last couple of posts. This does not mean to detract from actual scientific evidence and facts. But, for a society permeated by social media, science is simply no longer enough as a convincing tool. The way in which the severity of the issue is communicated is now perhaps of greater importance.

Scientists and politicians have spent countless years trying to scientifically explain and discuss the disastrous effects of climate change, along with what it is, what it’s doing, and what it will do to the earth if we do not act. It has grown phenomenally as an issue that ought to be at the forefront of our consciousness thanks to well-known figures such as Al Gore and renowned climate scientist Michael E. Mann. Just recently, Al Gore joined Hilary Clinton on her campaign trail in Florida and smoothly dissected the current climate issues facing the globe. However, is this enough?


Simply lecturing on climate change and global warming as detrimental threats do not spur instantaneous action or change. It is easy to shelve such lectures as apocalyptic narratives, as Tony Birch puts it. He implicitly highlights the characteristics in tune with a society of the 21st century. We will choose to give our very limited span of attention to a site, speaker, or channel that will ultimately hand us a dramatic and/or entertaining tale that does not reveal its ending, but will encourage us to think creatively and in a curious manner. But, an abundance of hope is a bore. Overwhelming negativity and despair drive a feeling of helplessness and the question “what’s the point?”. So, a balance ought to be achieved. More importantly, communication ought to be looked at as a strategy carefully formulated to spur strong feelings and strong reactions. Otherwise, we are engaged for the time being, but we are not impacted to our core in the long term. 

More in part 2 of this post.


Communicating Climate Change

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Social media is arguably the core ingredient to communicating the latest trend and viral topics. People feel that what they see and hear multiple times on social media intrinsically equates to the information that ought to be known at that specific time, otherwise, one may feel or is deemed fairly “uncultured”. The Q&A segment with Brian Cox and Malcolm Roberts that we linked to in the previous post has become a viral sensation, particularly within the Australian public. On Facebook, we found several pages uploading the same video of the rather absurd altercation between the two. However, it was a creative video that was uploaded by Junkee that really caught our attention.

The link -> https://www.facebook.com/junkeedotcom/videos/966647310114400/

Susanne Moser highlights the importance of such forms of communication as she states, “Integrating insights on the difficulties of understanding climate change, on language, imagery, and the imaginal, communication experts now point increasingly to the importance of story-telling and using narrative formats to convey climate change”. The humorous and comical nature of the film instantaneously held our attention and encouraged several replays of the video. As Moser points out, we are permeated by a highly visualized culture. Moving images capture our imagination and most importantly our attention no matter how futile the content may be.

What’s important is to realize both the good and bad. Whilst it grabbed our attention and drew focus toward the actuality of the issue, it did not frame climate change in a way for us to be concerned and propelled to combatting the threat. Rather, it reinforced our distrust in politicians and how disillusioned some people remain. This affective response to media content ought to be enhanced to a point of increased alertness to climate change. However, we do believe that we are on the right path. Perhaps this is just the first step. Pushing for a strong and collective acceptance on the issue can then lead into innovative means of communicating the need for direct action. This may be just what climate change is asking for of the media.

Gaining a more informed understanding of the significant role of media and communications in presenting the issue of climate change to the world is crucial. Ineffective communication on the matter is one significant cause of denialism.



Climate Change Seeks Support

What does climate change demand of the media? A very peculiar question to contemplate as it situates the issue as a living entity with needs and concerns. This, of course, reinforces the concept of having to approach the issue with a much broader understanding of the relationship between the individual and the environment. If you have not heard of the notion of Sila, it has evolved to mean “the breath of life, the reason for seasonal and other changes, and the fundamental principle underlying the natural world and its comprehensive “mind.””. The notion of Sila is critical in its identification of the self as being integrated “with the natural world”. It is, therefore, crucial to not go about the problem with a sole interest in the self and of society in general. The earth is dependent on our ability to see eye to eye with its pleas as well as its growing pains. You should think of it as a parent and child relationship.

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The media plays a crucial role in operating as a mediator between the two. People will simply not devote time or care if the media does not accurately emphasize just how important it is to step outside and act. It is no longer enough to be speaking on and reacting to the disastrous effects of climate change. Echoing the sentiment of many climate change activists, “Is it not simply time for action now?”. Communication on the topic must be enhanced in a way to motivate and encourage the general public into acting on inherent instincts such as that of nurturing.

We believe this kind of thinking will greatly broaden the hostile mind of denialists as well as providing an alternative perspective on the matter. Self-interest and greed must first be abandoned if we are to come together and collectively tackle the issue at hand. The next post will continue to look at the role of media and communications.