Behavioural adaptation in the face of climate change

8 March 2012

Climate change challenges us to rethink the entire narrative of human progress and a range of unsustainable political and social practices. This process will be deeply disturbing yet potentially transformative, says Professor David Schlosberg, who will deliver the inaugural 2012 Insights lecture tonight at the University of Sydney.

In his talk "Politics in a climate challenged society" Professor Schlosberg from the School of Social and Political Sciences will be discussing the adaptations society will have to undergo in the face of climate change.

Professor Schlosberg is known internationally for his work in environmental politics, environmental movements, and political theory. He has co-edited, with John Dryzek and Richard Norgaard, the Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society (2011) a definitive analysis drawing on the best thinking on questions of how climate change affects human systems, and how societies can, do, and should respond.

"We've been so focused on trying to prevent climate change that we haven't really considered the challenges that come next. While our recent arguments over incentives to de-carbonise everyday life are important, it's time to consider what it is going to mean to adapt to a climate-changed society. Adaptation brings a host of new challenges," he says.

"The human, social, and political implications of life in a climate-challenged society are broad, interrelated and underdeveloped.

"Our continued refusal to recognise ourselves as animals embedded in ecosystems has resulted in the undermining of those systems that sustain us. That's our key problem, our central challenge."

The central point of Professor Schlosberg's lecture will be to lay out some of the challenges of adapting to a climate-changed society - from the changing nature of the relationship between science and democracy, to evolving ways to govern environmental issues, to growing attention to the flows of energy, food, and other materials that support us every day.

In responding to those challenges, the fundamental relationship between human beings and the natural world that supports us will have to be rethought and redeveloped.

How will we adjust to the fact that human beings have created an 'Anthropocene' age, where it is human activity and not nature that shapes the world in which we live?

Can societies in denial of climate change develop a new relationship and partnership with science, to inform an age of adaptation?

This year's free lecture series will be held at the General Lecture Theatre in the Quadrangle, with complimentary refreshments served prior to each lecture at the Nicholson Museum. These events are presented in conjunction with the Sydney University Arts and Social Sciences Alumni Association (SASSA).


What: Politics in a climate challenged society, Professor David Schlosberg

When: 5.30 to 7.15pm, Thursday 8 March

Where: General Lecture Theatre 1, the Quadrangle, Camperdown Campus

Cost: Free

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