Climate idea

Al Gore

Climate idea

The arts and cultural sectors play an integral role in increasing social cohesion around the climate crisis

In the United States of America, the climate crisis is a deeply divisive social and political issue. Businesses and political entities disagree as to its existence, let alone how to address the crisis. At the October Frontiers-Forum Speaker Series event, Mr. Al Gore spoke of information echo-chambers only entrenching these belief systems ever further. How might we address these social challenges of the climate crisis in the USA and elsewhere? I recently wrote an essay to address a question from Dr. Naomi Oreskes posed to Mr. Gore at the Frontiers-Forum. Dr. Oreskes asked what kinds of conversations Mr. Gore has been a part of that appeal to people's hearts, not just their minds. In this essay, I argue that through the arts, our species has the potential to intentionally empathize with those deemed as the 'other.' Through empathy, one can think and feel from the other's perspectives, opening channels for communication. These channels of communication may assist in shifting often tense and reactive atmospheres linked to the political and social divisiveness of the climate crisis to channels of respectful idea exchange. Though idealistic, this argument is supported from evidence-based research and is my idea for how to move the needle forward on building understanding, trust, and connection specific to belief in and action-oriented steps to address the climate crisis. In this essay, I situate my thoughts from the perspectives of a middle-aged, Western-educated, cis-white-male musician and scientist. I declare these perspectives to orient the reader to the epistemologies and ontologies to which I am most accustomed and within which I am trained. I invite the reader to reflect upon these thoughts and further invite the reader to engage dialogue with individuals near and far from their situatedness around these and related topics. As a brief glimpse into the essay's evidence-based contents, engaging creatives and culture-bearers could play a critical part in creating the safe spaces needed for conversation(s) to take place that appeal to people’s hearts and build solidarity around lived experiences of the climate crisis. Creatives and culture-bearers are trusted leaders in communities (Fancourt & Finn, 2019; Sonke et al., 2021) that may assist scientists as additional “sentinels,” as Dr. Oreskes mentioned in her discussion at the Frontiers Forum, in the challenges of building solidarity and accountability to address anthropogenic climate change (ACC). A recent US-based report detailing the intersections of arts and culture, public health, and community development exemplifies ways in which creatives and culture-bearers may contribute to social cohesion at the community level (Engh et al., 2021). Social cohesion is “the extent of connectedness and solidarity among groups in society” (Manca, 2014), providing for its direct significance to address the social challenges of ACC. Social cohesion may be a significant step in the right direction toward shifting conversations and establishing the prosocial environments conducive to respectful idea exchange around the social challenges of ACC. To create social cohesion through arts-based participation at the scale needed to positively impact the social challenges of the climate crisis, we need to increase federal support for creatives and culture-bearers at the local community level. The Biden Administration recently released an executive order to strengthen support for the roles of the arts and humanities in community well-being, providing an excellent opportunity to integrate climate-related efforts. Existing projects such as One Nation One Project (ONOP), exemplify ways for such inter-sectoral partnerships to exist. ONOP provides a template from which work addressing issues like effects of consumerism and materialism upon the health of human and non-human systems could extend. We need to continue empowering local groups and individuals to create culturally-tailored solutions to climate-related challenges through programs like ONOP. Integration of arts and cultural strategies to address the climate crisis is arguably an under-considered tactic and I urge We Don’t Have Time and its partners to continue highlighting such ideas. Our species emotionally responds to arts-based communication strategies trending toward positive behavior change (Sonke et al., 2021), providing for the reasoning to further strengthen and support existing arts-based strategies.

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  • Sarah Chabane

    30 w

    Thanks for sharing, these are important points made and I agree, I believe arts and culture will be key for the climate movement and reaching people's hearts!

    • We Don't Have Time

      30 w

      Dear Aaron Colverson Thank you for getting your climate idea to level 2! We have reached out to Al Gore and asked what they think. I will keep you updated on any progress! /Muhammad We Don't Have Time

      Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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