DEAR CLIMATE

Posted by on Jul 20, 2014
DEAR CLIMATE

Dear Climate is a new project by Marina Zurkow, Una Chauduri, Oliver Kellhammer, Fritz Ertl, and Sarah Rothberg.

Text from the website:

What is Dear Climate? Just a conceptual nudge (not a paradigm shift).

The old joke—“Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it”—isn’t so funny anymore. Lots of people are trying to do something about the weather. Climate change is on the geopolitical agenda, if only in time for us to realize that it’s too late to do anything meaningful. Maybe the problem’s not that no one’s been doing anything about the weather, but that we’ve been talking about it in the wrong way: the old “let’s fix it” way. Now that the weather’s changed, is it also time to change the way we talk about it?

We began Dear Climate by looking for a new way to talk about the weather. We wanted a different vocabulary from the one we were hearing from the “survival community”: instead of crisis and catastrophe, we wanted the familiar and ordinary; instead of desperation and heroism, playfulness and friendliness. Instead of imagining mass movements or calling for community action, we were interested in finding a more personal relationship to climate change. Remembering the Sixties slogan, “the personal is political,” we wondered if the politics of climate change had evaded the personal for too long? Of course we were well aware of the emphasis on personal responsibility in the environmental movement—the injunctions to practice simplicity, recycle paper and plastic, avoid waste, and reduce consumption. But what about deeper realms of the personal, like pleasure, fantasy, fear, desire, sensation, vision, imagination?

To craft new kinds of personal engagement with climate change, we charted three “movements of mind.” The first, “Meet Climate Change,” was about openness and encounter, acquaintance and curiosity. Observation and conversation were obvious techniques for this, but so were certain “techniques of consciousness,” like meditation and mindfulness, that seemed to us to be imbued with a spirit of deep friendliness, which led to our second movement: “Befriend Climate Change.” Once you invite someone or something into your mental home, it’s only a matter of time before you get to know it better. The imagination gets seriously involved now, the conversation deepens, the plot thickens.

Being truly hospitable involves opening yourself to the unknown. When that happens, the guest can change the host profoundly. Our third movement, then, was “Become Climate Change.” Taking up the challenge of the new weather means we have to understand our human selves in ways that go beyond biography, even beyond history. We have to understand our species as a geophysical force that is shaping the systems of our planet. Performing that conceptual feat will require many kinds of imagination, not just the imagination of crisis and catastrophe. It will mean not just doing something about the weather, but talking about it—and feeling about it—differently.

Hello, Dear Climate. I’ve been meaning to tell you . . .