Thongchai Thailand

The New Face of Eco Wacko Activism

Posted on: October 19, 2019









  1. The Science Magazine article of 11/10/2019 states that “Environmental scientists tend to respond to degradation of the natural world by ignoring, suppressing, or denying the resulting painful emotions while at work”. The assessment is supported by a number of citations including “Head, Lesley, and Theresa Harada. “Keeping the heart a long way from the brain: The emotional labour of climate scientists.”  Emotion, Space and Society 24 (2017): 34-41. The paper is about increased understanding of emotions and climate change through a study of the emotional management strategies employed by a sample of Australian climate scientists. We bring three broad areas of literature into conversation in order to think more productively about climate change and emotion: recent applications of the concept of emotional labour, studies of the role of emotion in science, and feminist perspectives on the performative role of emotions. In response to contextual drivers that include the social norms of science, a strong climate denialist influence and the preservation of self and family, these scientists mobilize a range of behaviours and strategies to manage their emotions around climate change and the future. These include emphasizing dispassion, suppressing painful emotions, using humour and switching off from work. Emotional denial or suppression of the consequences of climate change worked to enable the scientists to persevere in their work. This study suggests that painful emotions (anxiety, fear, loss) around climate change need to be acknowledged and discussed.
  2. Ms Head is also the author of a 2016 book on the subject “Head, Lesley. Hope and Grief in the Anthropocene: Re-conceptualising human–nature relations. Routledge, 2016″. She is not alone. It is generally acknowledged that climate scientists are emotionally involved in their work and are motivated mostly by the need to save the planet from destruction by fossil fueled runaway climate change as seen in the short list of citations in the bibliography below. The bibliography also shows a concern among climate scientists that the fear of climate impacts that they had promoted in their work may present a mass psychological problem in the affected people that they had not anticipated.
  3. The emotional involvement of climate scientists in their work particularly having to do with promoting costly climate action by raising the fear of climate change impacts to which many climate scientists themselves are victim provides additional evidence in support of the thesis in a related post on climate activism by climate scientists. Their strong emotional attachment to the hypothesis makes it impossible for climate scientists to carry out its objective, unbiased, and credible evaluation.
  4. In the related post it is argued that the involvement of climate scientists in climate change activism is antithetical to the scientific credentials of climate science because emotional and activism needs and aspirations of climate scientists that are related to their research question make it impossible for them to carry out unbiased and objective scientific inquiry in that same research question. The credibility of climate science as a science can be rejected on this basis alone. 
  5.  [LINK TO RELATED POST ON ACTIVISM IN SCIENCE] . EXCERPT: Unbiased and objective scientific inquiry is not possible if the scientist has an agenda related to the research question in terms of his or her activism needs. In climate science the hidden hand of activism favors findings that support activism against fossil fuels. In this case, the researcher’s activism needs can be served with an excessive reliance on climate models. This is because climate models are pre-programmed with a well connected causation sequence from CO2 emissions to rising atmospheric CO2 concentration to warming driven by way of climate sensitivity. Thus, empirical tests of theory will always support the theory because climate models are an expression of theory. This is why objective scientific inquiry requires that empirical tests of theory must be independent of theory. In climate science, the use of climate models corrupts this fundamental principle of empirical tests.




  1. Randall, Rosemary. “Loss and climate change: The cost of parallel narratives.” Ecopsychology 1.3 (2009): 118-129. Climate change discourses present two parallel narratives—one about the problems of climate change and the other about the solutions. In narratives about the problem of climate change, loss features dramatically and terrifyingly but is located in the future or in places remote from Western audiences. In narratives about solutions, loss is completely excised. This article suggests that this division into parallel narratives is the result of a defensive process of splitting and projection, which protects the public from the need to truly face and mourn the losses associated with climate change. Its effect is to produce monstrous and terrifying images of the future accompanied by bland and ineffective proposals for change now. A more sophisticated understanding of the processes of loss and mourning, which allowed them to be restored to public narratives, would help to release energy for realistic and lasting programs of change. Psychoanalytic models of grief and loss may be particularly helpful in achieving this understanding. Drawing on practical work with small groups in Cambridge, UK, the article proposes that William Worden’s typology of the tasks of mourning and their negatives provides an appropriate model both for developing a culture of truthfulness, leadership, and appropriate support and for developing practical programs that would help members of the public to work through acceptance of changes that may threaten aspiration, culture, security, and identity.
  2. Höijer, Birgitta. “Emotional anchoring and objectification in the media reporting on climate change.” Public Understanding of Science 19.6 (2010): 717-731.  Using the framework of social representations theory — more precisely the concepts of anchoring and objectification — this article analyses the emotions on which the media reporting on climate change draws. Emotions are thereby regarded as discursive phenomena. A qualitative analysis of two series in Swedish media on climate change, one in a tabloid newspaper and one in public service television news, is presented showing how the verbal and visual representations are attached to emotions of fear, hope, guilt, compassion and nostalgia. It is further argued that emotional representations of climate change may on the one hand enhance public engagement in the issue, but on the other hand may draw attention away from climate change as the abstract, long-term phenomenon of a statistical character that it is.
  3. Doherty, Thomas J., and Susan Clayton. “The psychological impacts of global climate change.” American Psychologist 66.4 (2011): 265.  An appreciation of the psychological impacts of global climate change entails recognizing the complexity and multiple meanings associated with climate change; situating impacts within other social, technological, and ecological transitions; and recognizing mediators and moderators of impacts. This article describes three classes of psychological impacts: direct (e.g., acute or traumatic effects of extreme weather events and a changed environment); indirect (e.g., threats to emotional well-being based on observation of impacts and concern or uncertainty about future risks); and psychosocial (e.g., chronic social and community effects of heat, drought, migrations, and climate-related conflicts, and postdisaster adjustment). Responses include providing psychological interventions in the wake of acute impacts and reducing the vulnerabilities contributing to their severity; promoting emotional resiliency and empowerment in the context of indirect impacts; and acting at systems and policy levels to address broad psychosocial impacts. The challenge of climate change calls for increased ecological literacy, a widened ethical responsibility, investigations into a range of psychological and social adaptations, and an allocation of resources and training to improve psychologists’ competency in addressing climate change–related impacts.
  4. Willox, Ashlee Cunsolo. “Climate change as the work of mourning.” Ethics & the Environment 17.2 (2012): 137-164.  Climate change discourse often negates grief and mourning associated with the resulting environmental alterations. Mourning, however, holds potential for expanding climate change discourse in politically and ethically productive ways. This article extends the analysis of mourning to non-humans through a recognition of shared vulnerability, and examines the ways in which constituting non-humans as mournable expands climate change discourse, research, ethics, and politics. By transcending humanism to ground an ethical ecology of mourning, the ways in which thinking climate change as the work of mourning can contribute to an ecological democracy-to-come, and achieve a more inclusive political order, will be considered.
  5. Willis, Alette. “Constructing a story to live by: ethics, emotions and academic practice in the context of climate change.” Emotion, Space and Society 5.1 (2012): 52-59. Starting from the concept of the narrative-self, this paper explores the everyday ethics of research and academic practice as seen through the storied-experiences of two women who have chosen their careers through their desire to contribute meaningfully to the resolution of environmental issues. Selves are embedded in language, in relationships, in societies, in places and in ecologies. However, selves are also co-constructed in dialogue between teller and listener or writer and reader. In the intersubjective space opened up through dialogue lies the potential for change at both personal and societal levels. Enacting a narrative ethics of reading and writing that draws on counselling practices, this paper brings my own affective, embodied story into dialogue with the published memoir of Alison Watt. As we both struggle to find stories we can live by within the contexts of specific academic and research communities we begin to challenge the narratives and discourses that dominate our respective fields of field biology and human geography. The emotional and embodied practice of narrative ethics is offered as one possible response to the overemphasis on technical rationality within our society and its institutions. I argue that the development of practical wisdom (phronesis) is essential to addressing issues such as climate change, which are not simply technical problems but are fundamentally rooted in the human condition.
  6. Moser, Susanne C. “Reflections on climate change communication research and practice in the second decade of the 21st century: what more is there to say?.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 7.3 (2016): 345-369.  Appreciable advances have been made in recent years in raising climate change awareness and enhancing support for climate and energy policies. There also has been considerable progress in understanding of how to effectively communicate climate change. This progress raises questions about the future directions of communication research and practice. What more is there to say? Through a selective literature review, focused on contributions since a similar stock‐taking exercise in 2010,1 the article delineates significant advances, emerging trends and topics, and tries to chart critical needs and opportunities going forward. It describes the climate communication landscape midway through the second decade of the 21st century to contextualize the challenges faced by climate change communication as a scientific field. Despite the important progress made on key scientific challenges laid out in 2010, persistent challenges remain (superficial public understanding of climate change, transitioning from awareness and concern to action, communicating in deeply politicized and polarized environments, and dealing with the growing sense of overwhelm and hopelessness). In addition, new challenges and topics have emerged that communication researchers and practitioners now face. The study reflects on the crucial need to improve the interaction between climate communication research and practice, and calls for dedicated science‐practice boundary work focused on climate change communication. A set of new charges to climate communicators and researchers are offered in hopes to move climate change communication to a new place—at once more humble yet also more ambitious than ever before, befitting to the crucial role it could play in the cultural work humanity faces with climate change.
  7. Cunsolo, Ashlee, and Neville R. Ellis. “Ecological grief as a mental health response to climate change-related loss.” Nature Climate Change 8.4 (2018): 275.  Climate change is increasingly understood to impact mental health through multiple pathways of risk, including intense feelings of grief as people suffer climate-related losses to valued species, ecosystems and landscapes. Despite growing research interest, ecologically driven grief, or ‘ecological grief’, remains an underdeveloped area of inquiry. We argue that grief is a natural and legitimate response to ecological loss, and one that may become more common as climate impacts worsen. Drawing upon our own research in Northern Canada and the Australian Wheatbelt, combined with a synthesis of the literature, we offer future research directions for the study of ecological grief.






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