As fires rage, floods overwhelm, and heatwaves smother, more and more human and non-humans around the world are feeling the impacts of climate change. These impacts are felt in the body and the mind, manifesting as heat stress, respiratory difficulties, panic attacks, climate anxiety and more. They are also felt by and in-between collectives, as communities grapple with the socio-emotional fall out of compounding crises.
But these impacts are not felt equally, with the most disadvantaged forced to endure the worst consequences of the climate crisis. Yet our approaches to climate justice rarely foreground the affective (lived, emotional, embodied, psychic) experience of climate change. In response to the emotional experience of climate injustice, SEI Postdoctoral Fellow Blanche Verlie’s farewell lecture reflects on the possibilities and challenges of considering climate feelings and climate justice together.
The SEI Postdoctoral Fellowship Lecture celebrates the contributions and careers of our Postdoctoral Research Fellows during their time with us. In her time with SEI, Dr Blanche Verlie has established herself as a globally recognised expert on both climate anxiety and its crucial intersection with climate (in)justice. This work has helped to build the kind of multidisciplinary engagements and relationships that are at the heart of SEI’s mission – and has done that while being fully immersed in rethinking the very visceral experiences of climate change, from smoke to floods to anxiety.
This event was presented at the University of Sydney on Wednesday 14 September 2022.
Blanche Verlie is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in SEI and the Department of Sociology and Social Policy. Blanche is a multidisciplinary social scientist whose work focuses on how people understand, experience, and respond to climate change, and how we might do this differently and better. Blanche draws on feminist and multispecies philosophy to consider the complex, diverse and intimate ways that climate changes manifests in contemporary life, and how this analysis could inform more just and ecological modes of living in, with, and as the world. She is the project lead on Ecological Emotions, Feelings and Affects, and the author of Learning to live-with climate change: From anxiety to transformation which is available as a free e-book.
David Schlosberg is Director of the Sydney Environment Institute and Professor of Environmental Politics at the University of Sydney. His work focuses on environmental and climate justice, environmental movements, sustainability in everyday life, and climate adaptation/resilience planning and policy.
Header Image: Image by Thomas Yohei, via Unsplash