The Power of the Visual

November 19th, 2012: Along the beach in the Rockaways, NY (Image: Jenna Pope)
November 19th, 2012: Along the beach in the Rockaways, NY (Image: Jenna Pope)

The complexity and pervasiveness of climate change sometimes make this a difficult subject to communicate. We are after all talking about the basic physics, chemistry and biology of our ecosystem and the way in which human activities are changing these in profound and fundamental ways; what some have termed a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene.

And yet, the physical and social implications of climate change are becoming daily more evident.  One of the most powerful ways in which this can be conveyed is through visual imagery. For instance a growing procession of extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy and its impact upon New York City have provided a multitude of powerful images of the micro realities of extreme weather and how even the centre of global capitalism is no match for a ‘climate on steroids‘.

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Global Business Responses to Climate Change: Where to Now?

Image: Flickr Dave Clarke
Image: Flickr Dave Clarke

The following is a short piece published in The Conversation which I wrote with Andy Hoffman, Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan.

Despite the widespread scientific consensus regarding anthropogenic climate change, ideological rhetoric dominates the global political discourse. This is preventing the development of clear policy frameworks that companies need for long-term investments. In spite of this, there are signs of progress at the international, national and corporate levels.

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The Physical Reality of Environmental Destruction

The other day I watched a powerful presentation by noted photographer Garth Lenz. Speaking at a TED event in Canada he outlined the appalling environmental destruction that is being unleashed by the tar sands industry.

I’ve been following the news coverage on Canada’s tar sands for some time now, given the huge implications of non-conventional fossil fuels for escalating greenhouse gas emissions and the ever worsening climate crisis. I’m also editing a forthcoming special issue of the journal Organization on climate change and future imaginings, which includes an excellent study of the discourses employed by companies in the Athabasca tar sands industry written by Jane Lê.

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The Moment Of Realisation

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulo2070/4206290259/sizes/o/in/photostream/
Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulo2070/4206290259/sizes/o/in/photostream/

One of the things I’ve noticed in researching organizational responses to climate change is how often in an interview the person I’m talking to (typically a sustainability manager or consultant) will relate a particular event or story which symbolized the moment ‘they got’ climate change.

In an article Daniel Nyberg and I recently wrote in Organization Studies, we explored how sustainability managers develop different identities in negotiating between conflicting discourses and their sense of self. In describing how these identities arise, moments of realisation played a key part in these personal narratives.

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Why So Emotional? The Emotionologies of Climate Change

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielito311/5847295876/
Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielito311/5847295876/

In a previous post I pondered the question ‘why we get so emotional about climate change?

I suggested a key reason was because the implications of climate change affect us in so many fundamental ways:

  • our personal identities and roles (mother, father, journalist, politician);
  • the stories we tell ourselves and others about who we are (where I’ve come from, where I am, who I want to be);
  • our world views and ideologies (e.g. social democrat, small ‘l’ liberal, conservative, free-market libertarian).

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Our ‘Angry Summer’

Image: Dave Clarke
Image: Dave Clarke

In a post last week I discussed how extreme weather events can shape our awareness and understanding of climate change, and how climate change ‘loads the dice’ for more frequent and intense weather events.

This morning, the Climate Commission released a report with the apt title ‘The Angry Summer’. The report reviews the recent extreme weather we’ve been experiencing here in Australia. In fact this has been the hottest summer on record and the Climate Commission’s report highlights the numerous weather records that have been broken (123 in 90 days); temperatures, rainfall, floods, drought, bushfires, tornadoes and cyclones.

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Pricing Carbon in Australia: The On-going Political Drama

'Carbon tax' protest 2011 (Image: mugfaker)
‘Carbon tax’ protest 2011 (Image: mugfaker)

With the announcement that our next federal election will be on Saturday September 14 2013, there has been renewed commentary on the likelihood of a possible future federal Coalition government repealing the Clean Energy legislation.

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