Book cover of 'Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos', edited by Jem Bendell and Rupert Read

Taken from Adrian Tait’s chapter ‘Climate Psychology and Its Relevance to Deep Adaptation’ in the new book Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos, edited by Jem Bendell and Rupert Read.

What I like about it is that it cuts to the root of much of what is wrong with western societies — the symptom of which is the climate crisis.

(i) the assumption that value is determined by monetary wealth and the monetization of everything;

(ii) the consumerist paradigm of well-being, in which desire for sex, status and fantasies of security are exploited. One example is the current book in sport utility vehicle (SUV) sales, obliterating the emissions savings due to electrification of transport;

(iii) the ‘no such thing as society’ trope which defines us as isolates rater than members of a collective. The myth is one of liberation and motivation, but its main effect is to dehumanize;

(iv) the generalized belief that competition rather than cooperation is the natural condition for humanity and the main driver of progress. Competitive sport often (but not always) reinforces this;

(v) the ‘culture of uncare’, as outlined by Sally Weintrobe;

(vi) entitlement — the notion that we are not just special but at complete liberty to dominate, exploit and destroy. This myth has some religious underpinnings. It is also a close relative of colonialism. Entitlement includes expansion and incursion — a prime factor in zoonotic diseases like Covid-19 (Tait 2020);

(vii) species autonomy — the delusion that, with our brilliance, ingenuity, technology and built environment, we have created the world, a bubble in which we’re above wider nature, rather than being dependent on the natural world in myriad ways.