The Need for Cultural Change

Thompson makes a very relevant point in his piece, “Radical Hope for Living Well in a Warmer World.” In order to truly live in a world that has had climate change forced upon it, we must make widespread cultural changes. In one swift thought, “impending environmental changes may spell the end for significant parts of our cultural perspective, including ways we are accustomed to conceiving of and valuing the natural environment and our received notions of responsibility” (Thompson, 6). While reading this piece, I was continually reminded of our previous readings. The above quotation feels as though it could have come from White or Yusoff. We must change the way we perceive nature, in Yusoff’s case this would involve rethinking how we articulate and write about the past and the natural environment, and in White’s case it involves revising this notion that we have dominion over the Earth. Thompson even echoes this thought when discussing Jamieson’s depictions of “human domination” over nature.

Throughout my understanding of the reading, I found myself agreeing with Thompson, that we cannot just rely on the possibility of technological innovation to get us out of this mess (or more accurately, prolong the inevitable), that we must actually change how we behave in relation to the Earth and the resources it provides. We must adapt to this new reality and face the consequences of our actions, not ignore our problems by coming up with band aid solutions. Thompson sates what many of us who know this reality face: “it seems that enough people simply will not voluntarily make the kind of changes in lifestyle or social organization required to effect significant mitigation” (Thomson, 9). “Yet we must not give up resistance and the struggle for change.” This is the basis of the idea of radical hope.

On page 10, Thomson discusses how easy it is to see someone else living outside of the necessary means, but it is much harder to admit that we personally live with the norm of excess consumption. A commitment to living without excess consumption and materiality necessitates radical hope and commitment. Popular culture is under the impression that we don’t have to live with less, yet every future generation will have to if we remain on the same track. Thomson relates heavily to the previous readings in his discourse of the necessary use of the Earth’s resources – that we are entirely reliant on the Earth for our livelihoods. He goes on to discuss the concept of how humans value nature, which I find connects to the concept of biophilia: the “idea that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life” (source). If we want to be able to continue to seek out connections with nature, we must alter our cultural expectations and behaviors so that this may remain a reality.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash