Workshop 3 Afternoon Discussion Notes
A World Without Us? Imagining the End of the Human, 16 January, 2009 Manchester
Arran Stibbe: popular science, media and the language of the end: ‘sustainability past the point of no return’.
Background: Previously ecological discourse was about every little helps; inadequate when faced with global climate change.
Problem: if individual contribution is inadequate how can we develop action plans? Large-scale restructuring policies that support infrastructural change for multiple benefits that strengthen communities. What change is realistic? Is there political will to propose radical strategies?
It is humbling to realise the limitations of human efficacy. Need to do things entirely differently. But we are stuck with incremental change within the system without changing the system. Current direct activism comes largely from a particular set of society: what if it is taken up by ‘dangerous’ pathological individuals? Mainstream identity politics and radical politics moving into the mainstream.
Mass media needs to be used as a communication tool; cancer patient example a very useful metaphor that should evoke much empathy due to widespread experience.
‘No return’ a subjective experience that can link to different events and time points. The limits of the cancer metaphor: awareness of fragility that changes attitude cannot be easily translated into mourning for the planet and climate change. Save our own assets or care for those who have no choice?
Individuals’ groups making demands on power structures / institutions for change. Danger of survivalist desire in historic perspectives. We need empathy for those who haven’t got resources to adapt.
Virtue ethics and values that are tenable after the point of no return. What is good in its own right regardless of its efficacy and the outcome? What can we do that is more appropriate to our human nature as animals; the ecological view of humanity. Is there a return to a Romantic / idealistic project? Taboo of emotional responses in climate change propaganda.
The power of capitalist-vested interests. People not only damaging others but also their own interests caught up in the systems that distract from this dynamic. Should children be brought into the world in the face of apocalyptic prospects?