Tuesday 12 October 2010

WWF and others say "culture" has "central importance"

This blog follows on from yesterday's one not bothering to argue with people who don't want to agree with you, better to get on with doing something you like.

Mark Twain understood this kind of persuasion when Tom Sawyer got Huck Finn to help him paint the fence. Aesop also understood it (see pic) with the fable of the wind and the sun, where the heat of the sun succeeds where the force of the wind fails.

In his Guardian column yesterday George Monbiot praises Tom Crompton's Common Cause (pdf) as 'the most interesting report I have read this year'. The report shows (he says) that progressives have been suckers for a myth of human cognition that Crompton "labels the enlightenment model".

Psychological experiments have shown that humans don't behave entirely rationally, they behave in relation to extrinsic or intrinsic values. We hang onto stuff that confirms who we are. We frame discussions in terms of values. And that - of course - is cultural.

For this report, WWF-UK partnered with Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN), Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Friends of the Earth (FOE) and Oxfam. None of these is primarily an arts organisation. And yet, the aim was:

to explore the central importance of cultural values in underpinning concern about the issues upon which we each work.

To put this in six simple words, climate change is a cultural issue. Or, to add one more word, the environmental crisis is an aesthetic crisis.

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