Climate Change: Against Despair

Catriona McKinnon, University of Reading

Abstract: Catriona McKinnon discussed climate change and despair, noting that we must become ‘prisoners of hope.’ There are reasons for climate change to create emotional responses including despair. These, however, can be differentiated from despair as an attitude or dispositional orientation towards climate change. Two sources of despair towards climate change were discussed: inefficiency of one’s personal emission reductions; and/or one’s own inability to make a difference to worsening climate change through personal emissions reductions. Philosophical reflection shows that despair, as an attitude towards climate change, is not justified. Instead, to facilitate effective individual agency, and to take effective action on climate change, we must become ‘prisoners of hope.’

This talk was held at:

Imagining a Different Future

Climate Justice Conference

The University of Tasmania with the support of the University of Utrecht Ethics Institute hosted a multidisciplinary conference examining the barriers to responding to climate change, implementing climate justice, and proposing ways forward. Among the keynote speakers were Law Faculty Professors Jan McDonald and Ben Richardson. The Law Faculty's Dr Peter Lawrence co-convened the conference with Jan Linehan. The conference took place in Hobart from 8-9 Feb 2018.

Despite the Paris Agreement, there are real concerns the prevailing neoliberal economic and political model, particularly with the move to more insular, nationalistic, fragile politics, cannot respond effectively to climate change and excludes key considerations such as ethics and justice. Videos and Podcasts from the conference are available on the Knowledge Hub.