Psychology for a Safe Climate Monthly Newsletter, April 2021
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Those among you who have been following our work for a long time will know that we never shy away from acknowledging the grief, pain and harsh realities of the climate crisis. Also critical to our work is an ongoing interrogation of the idea of hope - what does it really mean? Do we need hope to take action? What kinds of hope lead to change, and when might it lead us to complacency or even delusion?

As we digest the very real possibility of surpassing the 1.5 degrees of warming, we have found that staying with the tension of the apparent polarity between grief and hope can take us beyond ourselves and into a vaster landscape. It leads to a place of not knowing and of uncertainty. And, as Terry Tempest Williams points out, 'we are... a dynamic part of an expanding and contracting future that celebrates and collaborates with uncertainty'. Perhaps this acknowledgment of uncertainty is the first step toward meaning-making and action as the ground continues to shift beneath us.

If you are looking for support in the exploration of your own feelings about climate change, we suggest joining us at our upcoming community workshop on Saturday May 8 - 'Acknowledging our Climate Grief'. It is taking place over Zoom - so you can join from anywhere in the country! More details below.

Beth, Bianca and the PSC team

Upcoming Workshop
Acknowledging our Climate Grief - a workshop on Zoom
Next month Psychology for a Safe Climate continues our core work of offering space for creativity, expression and reflection on the impact of climate crisis. This is a workshop for any member of the community interested in a supportive environment to explore their feelings about climate change. Our workshops also provide some guidance on self-care in the context of the climate crisis.
When: Saturday May 8, 2pm-5pm.
Where: Online
Make a booking

"Thank you PSC. I’ve been to a number of workshops over the last two years and they have all added to helping me move forward and deal with my climate grief and depression. I really appreciate the impact you have made on my life."
- Recent Workshop Participant
     An interesting read
The search for environmental hope
  • David Montgomery's article in Washington Post draws from climate scientists, activists and writers to explore the notion of hope in the face of the relentlessly macabre news about the state of the global climate. This article asks what action might be sparked if we lean into the pain of witnessing and experiencing climate disasters?
  • Poet, Naomi Shihab Nye tells a story of a very unusual arctic spell of weather in San Antonio where she lives. After witnessing the confusion of dove's around her home in response to the cold, she does what she can to save at least one of them.
  • Birder and naturalist J. Drew Lanham explores what it might mean to see ourselves magnified in nature and what this loosening of our own individuality might mean for how we understand our impact and action.
  • The crumbling notion of anthropocentrism is central to many of these creatives, environmentalist scientists and activists expressions of hope. Hope seems to be found, for them, in the notions of laying down selfhood whilst taking ownership over individual acts of improvement.  Acknowledging that the broader solutions to climate may be beyond our reach until we first re-orient our lived relationship with nature and the Earth.
  • The key principle here is that 'hope is action'. Rather than hope being a tool to propel action. Hope is also uncoupled from optimism; that is, hope is less about believing something will turn out well and more about understanding the purposefulness of your acts, your beliefs, and your words as you engage with the climate crisis.
  • The article closes by suggesting that 'grief is one of the great unacknowledged paths to hope and compassion'. Environmental humanities professor and podcaster, Jennifer Atkinson explains that we need to allow ourselves to stay with the despair. She highlights the cognitive distortions that happen when we focus on seeking the answer, or abolishing of our own sense of loss, fear and failure. Indeed, Atkinson believes that hope takes root through the embodiment of despair. Read this wonderful and thought provoking piece in full here.

Worth a listen

Facing It Podcast by Jennifer Atkinson

  • A heartfelt podcast on the emotional burden of climate change, the paralysis that can occur in the face of the imensity of the problem and the depths of it's intersectional impacts. Atkinson explores the necessity of feeling into this grief and anxiety if we wish to do anything real about the climate crisis. The podcast explores climate emotions, hope, uncertainty, and our existential angst in the face of continued inaction on climate. Download and listen from Apple Podcasts here.

Sally Weintrobe: The psychological roots of the climate crisis on RNZ
  • Sally Weintrobe speaks to the cognitive distortions individuals and societies tend to engage in to protect themselves from the climate crisis, but goes on to normalise how the experience of anxiety in the face of climate collapse is the most reasonable response.
  • Weintrobe speaks about the ways she protects her own emotional wellbeing in the face of the climate crisis and the importance of community in sitting with climate anxiety.
  • The idea of a 'culture of un-care' is explored, and how beginning to feel into a real care for the needs of the earth takes humans beyond our individualistic needs. Listen in full here.

What to Watch

      Turning Eco-Anxiety into Eco-Action

  • 21-year-old climate activist, Clover Hogan, and Climate Psychology Researcher, Caroline Hickman, speak at the Natural History Museum on emotions as catalysts for change.
  • Hickman explains that challenging self-centric modes of thinking is why psychology needs to be a core part of tackling the climate crisis.
  • Hogan explains that because neoliberalism has individualised the climate crisis, our greatest strength in activism is om the coming together as a community to honour our shared experiences of climate anxieties. Watch in full here.
PSC volunteers are based on the lands of the Wurundjeri tribe of the Kulin nation. We acknowledge their elders past, present and future.
PSC acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are Australia’s First Peoples and the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we work.
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Psychology for a Safe Climate · PO Box 27 Fairfield · Alphington · Melbourne, Vic 3078 · Australia

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