Doomsday Pessimism Won’t Help Tackle Climate Change Threat…

THE GUARDIAN Thursday 13 November 2014

Dear Editor,

I congratulate Paul Kingsnorth on the literary award for his innovative novel The Wake (A novel approach to the use of Old English, 10 November), but seriously question his environmental activism.

Kingsnorth’s Dark Mountain project, described as “a network of artists, writers and thinkers who basically see the world as being doomed – ecologically and economically”, is hardly the message we need to hear in the week following the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change setting out the challenging, but achievable, targets for control of carbon release and temperature rise; in fact, for our Earth’s survival.

This despairing doomsday scenario also emerges clearly in Kingsnorth’s recent review of two books (The four degrees, London Review of Books, 23 October). The first, George Marshall’s  Don’t Even Think About It,  is heavily influenced by US psychologists, Dan Kahan and Daniel Kahneman, who clearly share his pessimistic doomsday scenario.

The second, Naomi Klein’s deeply researched This Changes Everything: Capitalism v The Climate, is peremptorily dismissed by Kingsnorth as “an American liberal wishlist”.

The climate-change threat is the ultimate challenge to human creativity and capacity for change. This is no time for our creative elites to be opting for despairing nihilism.

Realism with optimism is the Arts Social Action way.

Ralph Windle
Arts Social Action, Witney, Oxfordshire