The Anthropocene, Environmental and Climate Change
They grab headlines, trigger controversies and discussions and provoke action and reaction, but it sometimes seems we haven’t got very far agreeing what these things are, what they need from us, what we can do. They cut across and complicate environmental and development priorities. Species and habitat loss, water resources, farming, poverty reduction, health, social justice and economic wellbeing all seemingly compete with them for attention, but in reality they’re all interlinked in a web of so-called ‘wicked problems’. We can manage ordinary ‘tame’ problems with conventional approaches, but wicked problems resist solution because of their complex interdependencies, the uncertainties that pervade them and the way limited attempts to tackle one issue cause others to get worse.
ClimateCultures centres ‘Climate Change’ as both the specific focus (the changes to our atmospheric, geological, water and biological systems as a result of increasing global temperatures and greenhouse gases) and as shorthand for this larger complex of wicked problems. A growing awareness of our changing relationships with the rest of nature is captured in suggestions that our species has brought the world into a new phase: the Anthropocene. This emerging truth of the ‘Age of Human’ confronts and tangles with an older truth that the world we’re changing is and always has been more-than-human and beyond our attempts to control it.
Many sites explain the problems or offer straightforward solutions. Rather than straight answers, this is a site for finding ways through the tangle of questions. How do you and other artists, researchers and curators approach Climate Change; what drives you to create something that touches on it; what inspires particular work; what gets in the way; what would you like to know or learn from others? Answers will emerge from a community of the curious, through guest blogs, questions, discussions and the work you link us to.
Why contribute your thoughts, concerns, ideas? Because we’re all struggling for ways to capture the big issues in our small words, images, sounds and gestures. Because we have different ways of knowing what Climate Change means, and the different frames, filters and lenses we habitually see the world through also shape what’s possible within the Anthropocene. Because we all have work to offer. Because conversation is creative. Because this is an experiment, an enquiry, a joint excursion into things we don’t know.
About Mark Goldthorpe
Over 25 years, I’ve been fortunate to work with small businesses, corporates, NGOs, local government, regional agencies, national programmes and international projects on environmental and climate change. While my scope has evolved, from waste, pollution and energy to climate change, its impacts and our need to change as these unfold, my central focus remains on how we increase our capacities to act, together. After roles with a local charity, a regional stakeholder partnership and a national centre of excellence, I’ve worked freelance since completing my MA Climate Change in 2011.
All my experiences have reinforced an awareness that no single profession, academic discipline, or network of businesses, governments or NGOs can capture all of what Climate Change ‘is’ – let alone ‘solve’ it. Scientific, public policy, entrepreneurial, activist and ‘best practice’ approaches are all necessary, but none of them is enough. Even combined, without the key ingredient of imagination they can’t get full traction on the complexity and uncertainty and the human dimension. Climate change, environmental loss and the Anthropocene are essentially cultural issues, and the arts play fundamental roles in how we imagine, make sense of and approach them.