Climate Emotions

‘Insomnia’ by Bridget McKenzie, 2019

This is an invitation to help us with our formative research into Climate Emotions and Coping Strategies.

A key aim of our activities is to enable conversations about the Climate & Ecological Emergency, and to develop better strategies for coping. We don’t aim to convert people to a particular point of view or solution, but to express feelings, discover new insights and connect with others through conversation.

Our hypothesis, in our Story of Change, is that our creative object-centred approach is more effective at opening up talk and helping people find strategies for coping and action than more instructional, promotional or ‘one-to-many’ methods. For professionals, we want them to feel that they have the tools to respond to the Emergency in the ways that suit their work, and to have know-how and motivation to engage with people in accessible and meaningful ways. For public groups, we want them to feel able to explore difficult issues, to be better informed and to be more motivated to take action. We’ll be looking to capture data from all our activities on how people feel, what or how they think, and what they intend to do.

More about this triad of feel, think and do:

  • Emotion: Starting with self. Mixed feelings and difficult feelings. What feelings do we share and how do we differ? Exploring tendencies to deny, rationalise or disavow when faced with the enormity of the crisis. Feeling able to move on with less guilt or fear. 
  • Analysis: Providing access to current science; exploring the lived experience of climate impacts; educating about big systems and complexity of solutions; delving into multiple perspectives on concepts, ethics and terms. 
  • Action: Imagining possible stories for the future, and knowing what to do to create a preferable future. If possible, retaining a relationship with groups to support an active journey. 

When capturing what people intend to do, we’ll be less focused on what specific actions they take, but how they relate to different types of coping strategies, as we’ve modelled them here.  Psychologists believe hope – being able to project possible futures – emerges out of two elements: personally determined goals and pathways to reach them. There is evidence that people are better able to cope and take effective action if they develop ‘prefigurative strategies’. This is about imagining potential scenarios or solutions, and becoming fully engaged in stopping environmental harm while also changing the harmful system through constructing new ways to live.

We are still at a formative evaluation stage, designing our activities through practice, and finding out what people feel, think and do about the crisis. To help with this, we’re inviting anyone to help us by taking part in this short online survey on Climate Emotions and coping strategies. This will provide insights so that we can design our activities to be more effective. We’ve also commissioned a film by young person Seamus Coyne-Bailey, where he talks to his peers about their climate emotions and coping strategies.

Please do share this blogpost so that the survey can reach a large sample of people, in the UK and beyond.

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