The MWS Podcast 38: Adam Corner of the Climate Outreach & Information Network

My guest today is Adam Corner of the Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN). He’s the research director at COIN and also writes regularly for the national media including the Guardian, New Scientist and the Ecologist. He’s going to talk to us today about COIN, its approach to climate change, its aims and objectives and how it might relate to the Middle Way.

Here are a couple of his recent articles:

The Guardian: Morality is missing from the debate about sustainable behaviour
New Scientist: Climate Science – Why the world won’t listen


MWS Podcast 38: Adam Corner as audio only:
Download audio: MWS_Podcast_38_Adam_Corner

Click here to view other podcasts

About Barry Daniel

I live in the Lake District in the UK where I run a guesthouse with my partner Kate and my cat Manuel. I enjoy painting, hillwalking, reading, visiting and entertaining friends, T’ai Chi and playing the guitar. I’m engaged to a certain degree in the local community, as a volunteer with Samaritans and I’m a fairly active member of the local Green party. I’ve had a relatively intuitive sense of the Middle Way most of my adult life but it found a greater articulation and a practical direction through joining the society. It’s also been interesting and great fun engaging with other people with a similar outlook. My main contribution to the society is conducting the podcast interviews, something that gives me a lot of satisfaction and that I’ve learnt a lot from.

3 thoughts on “The MWS Podcast 38: Adam Corner of the Climate Outreach & Information Network

  1. Barry describes Adam’s talk as ‘fascinating’, and I second that. His contribution was modest, fluent, clear, direct, refreshingly honest and constructively helpful to people like me who don’t know where to begin to find a position from which to act, either as an individual, or in concert with others. How can I balance self-interest against altruism; how do I reconcile strong and reasonable appeals to my selfish nature with the self-transcendent values I lay claim to, or at least aspire to?

    Adam’s insights show how complex but also how potentially tractable these issues are, if we are willing to ‘sit with’ the ambiguities and the apparent contradictions; if we can suspend the ideological certainties that drive us into oppositional camps, regardless of our ignorance of the ‘facts’; and “change the way we engage” with each other, “breathing life into” the debate, “doing it for the love of” what we hold dear.

    This is a longish podcast, but of great value, and very appropriate to us as we seek to engage meaningfully with the world beyond our navels. Thanks to Barry and Adam for bringing this to our attention, and may more of us heed it.

  2. I agree with Peter that this is a very positive and helpful podcast. It’s very much along the lines of the message I will be trying to get across at the February retreat, that our actions on environmental issues need to psychologically realistic and inclusive rather than oppositional. I also very much support the points Adam was making about the need to move people on incrementally from narrower to broader motives for responding to climate change (appealing to a desire to save money will only take you a limited distance), and that we need to relate the issues to a wide range of political motives. In relation to this I find Jonathan Haidt’s work on the 6 political value foundations very helpful (see my review of Haidt’s book at http://www.middlewaysociety.org/books/psychology-books/the-righteous-mind-by-jonathan-haidt/ ).

    The only thing to which I’d want to adopt a slightly challenging approach in what Adam said is his reliance on terminology like ‘selfishness’, ‘materialism’ (in the sense of desire to possess material objects), and ‘altruism’. I appreciate that this is the kind of moral language people most easily understand, but I also think that continuing to use it often entrenches the problem of people being unable to relate to that moral language. I think it’s narrow representations of our self-interest, rather than self-interest itself, that’s the problem in our moral responses, and that the whole idea of ‘altruism’ also often blurs over the complexity of our values, that usually combine representations of good both for ourselves and others. For an optimum approach to an issue like climate change, I think we need to start with a recognition that our identifications may start relatively narrow and need to gradually broaden, rather than fastening the issue to a misleading self/ other dichotomy.

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