Hear from people who are responding to their anticipation or experience of societal disruption in fascinating ways – and ask them questions. These Q&A sessions are hosted by either Professor Jem Bendell or Katie Carr and feature questions from participants in the DA movement. They are free to attend and most are open to anyone. Videos of the Q&As are posted online afterwards and previous ones with guests including Joanna Macy and Charles Eisenstein can be viewed here. Further Q&As will be added to the programme in 2022 – stay up-to-date with the latest additions via the DA Leadership group.
Reverend Stephen G Wright – Interfaith minister and member of the Holding Group of the Deep Adaptation Forum. January 25th 2022
Join Katie Carr as Stephen discusses engaged spirituality, and the role of the mystic-completive in deep adaptation to societal collapse. Check details and book your place.
As the initiator of what has become a movement for ‘deep adaptation’ to societal disruption and collapse, I am pleased to have this means to continue to share with you what I think is important as we experience more troubled times. In DA conversations we often speak of ‘societal collapse,’ yet do not often explore what we mean by ’societal.’ For instance, are there norms and values that are fundamental to what we experience as society? Could they be as important for some people as matters of shelter, nutrition, or health? Or should we ditch certain values that have been central to our experience of society, if we think that will keep us safer? Who decides the ‘we’ that matters and the others who matter less? And where would such ideas of attaining safety come from? These are topics explored by signatories to the Scholars Warning on societal disruption. And with such topics in mind, I liked a recent summary of the Deep Adaptation movement in a review of my new book: “Unlike the growing prepper movement that prioritizes personal survival at all costs, Deep Adaptation calls for adaptive responses that spring from solidarity with all life, which requires an expanded sense of self and kinship.”
The new film about a total apocalypse of the human race is being slammed by many film reviewers. But when I chat to people who have seen it they think it brilliant. And my Facebook wall is full of friends writing versions of OMG what a film! So what might these extremely different reactions tell us?
When I read the reviews of ‘Don’t Look Up’ they seem to misunderstand the film. Even the reviews from environmentalists who slag off the other reviews miss what is seen as important about the film by me and people who are alive to the very latest climate trends.. So here are my two cents on the film and – like all important art – the lessons from the reactions it has generated.
In December 2020 over 600 academics signed an international Scholars’ Warning on societal disruption and collapse. It led to the formation of an initiative to help more scholars to engage publicly about their views on collapse risk, readiness and response. This is a quick summary of what has happened and what is in the pipeline.
By registering their support for a more radical agenda on our climate predicament, including the need to discuss collapse risk, readiness and response, now journalists can find these scholars and bring these ideas to wider attention. One example is an ‘Inside Climate News’ article that interviewed a number of signatories.
Has asymptomatic transmission of the virus been significant to this pandemic? The published research I have read indicates that asymptomatic transmission is not significant to the reproduction rate of the Covid virus and therefore not key to the pandemic.
Why does that matter? If not enough of us can get Covid from infected people with no symptoms to significantly affect the reproduction rate of the virus, then the orthodox policy agenda does not make sense. I’ll explain more about why in a moment. But first, some context.
It feels odd, personally risky, and somewhat reckless for me to write a blog on epidemiology. What a weird situation has arisen in society so that sharing tentative analysis on public challenges involves such intense emotions and potential consequences for relationships with friends, colleagues and even future employment or income. That is a situation which I do not want to acquiesce to, as open dialogue on public issues is an aspect of contemporary society that I value deeply.
If you think things in society are going wrong, how does that make you feel? Sad? In some situations, might you feel some rage?
It is natural to feel angry about a bad situation. The issue is then what we do about it. Our culture tends to denigrate anger in ways that mean we do not have a healthy discussion or understanding of the difference between a positive anger and a destructive anger. Anger suppressed can lead to a destructive anger which manifests as aggressions towards people. However, there can also be a righteous anger which is a natural and important response to unnecessary harm and injustice. Such an anger can remain connected to our sense of love for creation and each other. But it needs to flow somewhere…
When you feel righteous anger about a situation, what do you do next?
Last summer when the data from Public Health England began to look a bit weak on Covid vaccine effectiveness, Sky News ran a segment commenting on some data in an official government report. It had been circulating on social media and fuelling ‘vaccine hesitancy’, according to some people. Perhaps it was time for a mainstream news outlet to reassure the public. And so Table 5 from a government report that summarised vaccination data from February to July 2021 made it on to telly. The data showed that of the over-50s who caught the Delta variant in the UK, around 13,700 had been vaccinated at least once; around 2,400 had not been vaccinated. That is “about 85% of those catching the virus being double-jabbed, which is a little higher than one would expect” said the Sky News reporter. But he reassured viewers that what matters is hospitalisations. “Of the vaccinated people, some 3.5% were hospitalised. Of the unvaccinated people, some 8.4% were hospitalised. In other words, the rate of hospitalisations per case was 2.4 times higher among those who were unvaccinated.”[i] That sounded like a reasonable way of presenting the data. It meant that one might wish to get vaccinated if elderly or within a vulnerable group, in order to halve one’s chances of going to hospital with Covid. I thought that level of risk reduction is not sufficient to mean that vaccination rates would affect hospital capacity significantly – especially not vaccination for younger generations who rarely end up in hospital anyway. It meant that although Covid vaccinations were not working well for stopping infections, and might soon be ineffective due to viral evolution, so long as they were safe, as far as staying out of hospital was concerned, there was some benefit in the elderly and the vulnerable getting jabbed. At the time I did not see the benefit in mass vaccination as the jabs were not preventing transmission, so herd immunity from the jab seemed a fantasy.
Getting sick with Covid-19 forced me to stop. I had to experience my busy mind without the habitual means of entertaining or busying myself. I found little energy or interest for anything other than strumming my guitar. But as I can’t play properly, I knew only two songs the whole way through. So within a few days I started singing my own words and melody. Sometimes I liked what I heard, so recorded it on my phone. Then I experimented with expressing a mood I was feeling through a melody and words. That produced some chunks, but nothing like a song. So I called a friend and asked him how to create verses if I have a chorus. “Try doubling the chords you used for the chorus” he said. With that I was on my way, soon writing down lyrics for verses and deciding when to return to a chorus. “You need a bridge” said another friend, after I sent him my first attempts. I didn’t know how to create a bridge, but after messing around with some ideas, I found what sounded about right.