Article out: transformation, adaptation and universalism

Global Discourse journal have published my article online. It’s a response to an article by Brian Heatley from Green House, Paris: optimism, pessimism and realism. A limited number of free copies are available to download here.

Global efforts to mitigate climate change are inadequate, making planning for adaptation to increases in temperature critically important. Adaptation comes in many forms, none of which are neutral. All responses have ethical and equity dimensions. With transformational adaptation, changes in values are likely. Looking ahead to 2100, Heatley anticipates that universalism values will come under threat from the impacts of 3-4°C warming. But breakdown of solidarity and disruption of international systems of trade and security is already within sight: self-protection values and isolationist tendencies are gaining in salience.

Self-protection values and unrealistic optimism are discussed in this paper as defences against the profound psychological threat posed by climate change. The dominant cultural worldview of progressivism is rendered untenable: we are not in control of nature. The project of progress as it is currently conceptualised must be forgotten not just for a hundred years as Heatley pleads, but altogether, and an alternative idea of human flourishing promoted instead. But who are the custodians of values that help us live in more harmonious relationship with the natural world? Who can champion adaptation as universalism? This paper asks whether spiritual leaders will be able to step up and perform this role.

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