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Transition Universities conference, Winchester,
February 2011

Climate Change and Violence workshop series 2008 - 2012
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Climate Change and Humanity, November 2004
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Workshop 7:
Saturday 17 November 2012
St Ethelberga's, London
Dr. Mark Levene
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Workshop 7: Avoiding climate change violence: What is to be done?

Programme Information

Saturday 17 November 2012
St Ethelberga's Centre for Reconciliation & Peace, Bishopsgate, London

9.45 - 10.15 Registration

10.15 - 11.45 Morning Session

Mark Levene, Introduction, From where I stand: Thinking back over the last six workshops while attempting to look forward

Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, 'Overcoming the Crisis of Civilisation: Transformative Pathways for Socio-political, Economic, Ethical and Technological Transition to a Post-Carbon World'
Over the coming decades an unprecedented convergence of civilisational crises on a global scale, will lead either to unmitigated disaster, or open opportunities for renewal and transformation. In this presentation, Nafeez will outline some of the key areas for structural transformation, and - based on lessons learned so far - how a viable post-carbon civilisation capable of surviving and perhaps even prospering in the 21st century might look.

11.45 - 12.00 Coffee break

12.00 - 1.30

Facing off collapse ? Whose voices get heard in the climate change debate?
John Nissen and Chris Shaw, with Jonathan Ward, round-table panel.

The Earth System embraces mechanics, climate, heat dynamics and cryogenics, together with biological, biochemical, chemical and physical processes and cycles. In the face of what is clearly now imminent collapse in key domains of the system, John Nissen will be arguing for an engineering approach to ensure the planet can continue to support our civilisation in a sustainable and hospitable way. Set against John's proposition that such remedial action is one of absolute necessity Chris Shaw will pose whether geo-engineering might simply be the cloak under which neo-liberal ideology reproduces 'business as usual', leaving humanity more wedded (and marginalised) than ever to implicitly undemocratic discourses and constructions of climate change when actually the phenomenon might be providing us with the necessary lever for radical social change.

1.30 - 2.15 Lunch

2.15 - 3.45 Afternoon Session

'So what is to be done? A basic call to consciousness, empathy and antisyzygy' Alastair McIntosh

What kind of a world do we need to work towards to bring about a reduction in violence as set against the realities of accelerating climate change? What are the social, political, psychological and spiritual dynamics of such a challenge? And, perhaps more to the point, where they might contradict one another how do we hold such contradictions together so that we don't end up compartmentalising ourselves and each other through splitting, projection and demonisation?

3.45 - 4.00 Coffee break

4.00 - 5.00 Final plenary, all available speakers plus Jo Abbess


Brief biographical notes

Alastair McIntosh is a Scottish writer, broadcaster and activist on social, environmental and spiritual issues. His many books include Hell and High Water, on the cultural and deep psychological elements of climate change - which was described by the Archbishop of Canterbury as 'inspirational' in preparing his address to Copenhagen in December 2009. Alastair's lectures round the world include to WWF International, the World Council of Churches, the Russian Academy of Sciences and also the Joint Services Command and Staff College, where for a decade and a half he has articulated the case for non-violence at the most senior levels of the British military establishment. Alastair and his wife, Verene Nicolas, have lived in Govan for the last 7 years where Alastair is founding director of the Gael Gael Trust for the regeneration of people and place.

Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development (IPRD), an independent think tank focused on the study of violent conflict in the context of global ecological, energy and economic crises. Having published widely on international terrorism and the 'War on Terror', his current research on the radicalisation of violent conflicts in strategic regions, as rooted in the structure of the global political economy, is developed in A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: and How to Save It (2010). This has also been more recently developed as a feature documentary 'The Crisis of Civilisation' with the filmmaker Dean Puckett.

John Nissen has a background in science, innovation and systems engineering. This background has enabled him to take a fresh look at the Earth System on the basis of which he predicts an imminent collapse of Arctic sea ice due to positive feedback - a common engineering phenomenon. This is potentially catastrophic as the faster warming sea accelerates release of the potent greenhouse gas, methane, from a vast undersea store. In 2011 he formed the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, AMEG, declaring a planetary emergency and demanding immediate international action to cool the Arctic, using geoengineering as a necessary tool.

Christopher Shaw is a Research Associate at the University of Sussex. His current interest is in developing responses to climate change based on explicit and socially progressive value systems. His progress can be followed at www.notargets.org

Jonathan Ward draws upon his background in Physics and post-graduate studies in Globalisation, Environment and Social Change along with a long-term interest on the symbiotic relationship between societies and the climate.


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