Outreach work and environmental justice

June 29, 2011 § 2 Comments

Outreach work is frequently a ‘must do’ for 3rd sector organisations and campaign groups. Attention moves inevitably from people who are easy to engage to those who don’t automatically take up your service or join your group. The aim is admirable but the idea is not value free. Why, one might ask, do we always start with those who are ‘easy to reach’? What effect does this have on the way our activities develop and who finds us approachable? « Read the rest of this entry »


Hope, despair and 4° C

May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Keeping global temperature rise below 2° C is “just a nice utopia” according to Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency. What happens to hope in the face of increasingly gloomy predictions for the future? « Read the rest of this entry »

Speech made at Cambridge Carbon Footprint’s AGM 2011

May 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

Speech made at Cambridge Carbon Footprint’s AGM May 19th 2011 about  the year 2010, the future of CCF and the changing roles of myself and co-founder Andy Brown « Read the rest of this entry »

Is it time to stop talking about behaviour change?

April 27, 2011 § 8 Comments

Behaviour change is the new black – although the idea has been around for a while it is increasingly the mantra of those working on climate change. Funders are interested in it. Government swears by it. Researchers puzzle over it. Voluntary organisations take it as their agenda. What’s not to like?

Lots. « Read the rest of this entry »

Should we be working with children about climate change?

March 23, 2011 § 12 Comments

Climate change community groups often want to work with children. ‘We must get into the schools,’ says someone and there is a nod of agreement. It’s worth thinking about the psychology behind this. Why is this idea so appealing? And why is it so damaging? « Read the rest of this entry »

Giving and receiving bad news – how should we talk about climate change?

February 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

There is no doubt that climate change is bad news. But how should we talk about it?  Should we acknowledge that it is bad news, or look on the bright side? Should we tell the whole truth – or try to make it more palatable? « Read the rest of this entry »

Climate scepticism – why information doesn’t work

January 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Two events last week touched on the psychological impact of climate change: the Horizon programmed fronted by Paul Nurse examining why the public increasingly distrusts climate science,  and a debate at Trinity Hall in Cambridge between Professor Sir Brian Hoskins (climate scientist, Royal Society Research Professor and Professor of Meteorology) and Walter Grant Scott, a businessman, benefactor to the college and climate sceptic. How effective were these speakers and why? « Read the rest of this entry »

Common Cause, inner and outer conflict…

December 29, 2010 § 1 Comment

Tom Crompton’s Common Cause report has struck a chord amongst NGO’s, particularly those working on climate change. The conference to discuss it in London on December 9th was massively over-subscribed. 100 people made it to the day. Another 100 were disappointed.

What’s it all about? Is it a new way forward for organisations who are tired and demoralised by the ineffectiveness of their campaigns? Or is it ‘catnip for campaigners’ as Solitaire Townsend of Futerra reportedly said, an approach which validates retreat towards a familiar comfort zone where NGO’s lecture others about what they ought to do? « Read the rest of this entry »

The psychology of waste: from the desirable to the rejected

November 28, 2010 § 3 Comments

Text of talk delivered in Cambridge, UK as part of European Waste Prevention week, November 25th 2010

I’d like to start with a quote from the economist Herman Daly:

“Man transforms raw materials into commodities and commodities into garbage” Herman Daly

– and then talk first about our pre-occupation with commodities and then about their transformation – the way they cross a line from the desirable to the rejected, from new to old, from clean to dirty and what that process involves. « Read the rest of this entry »

Great Expectations: how do people come to terms with ecological debt?

October 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

Over the summer I interviewed a number of people about their experiences of discovering ‘ecological debt’. The term is a useful shorthand for describing the unequal relationship between the ‘developed’ nations whose lifestyles use far more than a fair share of the world’s resources, and the countries, habitats and eco-systems that are devastated as a result. I also collected stories on the website What’s Your Pip Story? (If you want to add a story, please do.)

The complex systems that deliver us a t-shirt or a new tv obscure our indebted relationship to the biosphere. It’s not easy to connect a Saturday shopping trip or a longed-for holiday with ecological disaster. It’s a minority of people who are aware of the facts or who allow them more than a fleeting place in their mind.

I was curious about the psychological process people might go through first in letting such awareness in and then in managing to live with it. The resulting paper was presented last weekend (October 16h/17th) at a conference called Engaging with Climate Change, organised by the Institute of Psychoanalysis. « Read the rest of this entry »

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