This is part of a series of blogs reflecting on the program of Integral Europe Conference 2023,  whose theme was Planetary Awakening 2.0. This blog introduces a Keynote  from the conference – curated in an Action Research Format – summarizing What the speaker said, So What could we take as the meaning? and Now What are options for action.

What did Gail Hochachka say about – Finding One’s Own Soul-Centric Climate Action

This is a story different than the usual planetary researchers who focus on Planetary boundaries … I want to focus on the human response to climate.

It appears that warming will exceed (the Paris COP15 Agreement to keep below and increase of) 1.5 c.

But our approaches are not equal to the social and psychological aspects in play.

What can we do? What is the role for us, for individuals?

Generally climate questions use techno managerial approaches  and dismiss human behaviour.

We account for individuals in creating the phenomenon of climate change but dismiss the role of individuals in resolving it.

IPCC highlighted the role of lifestyles and behaviour change for the first time in 2022 report – they noted 40-70% reductions in greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 can come from demand side solutions.

When it comes to us – we react as alarmed (25%), Concerned (45%) Disengaged (5%) Doubtful (17%) and Dismissive (8%).

Where is the movable middle?

There is a values awareness action gap.

Noticing inductively three buckets interaction – Climate action logic, Climate Shadow and Climate Action Systems.

Our best intentions are even blind to reality – such as switching gas to coal when EV cars plug into a microgrid powered by coal.

Considering climate shadow, explanations for the social inertia to lower emissions has been explored as an avoidance of cultural trauma.

We need media and processes; climate action logics and climate models.

Our Climate action-logics are incomplete – future ways of knowing and being are unknown. Our climate models only hold in so far as the variables we have input are correct and complete.

Have we fully accounted for what is emergent and evolving?

Gail has worked with STAGES matrix to look at what changes in growth and lifespan might impact behaviour.

A pluralist achiever expert embraces matter as body/mind – but where is the soul and spirit?

Are there possibilities for soul-centric climate actions at later stages of development?

Working with STAGES (Terri O’Fallon and Gail) created some Climate change sentence stems [for respondents to complete].

Then with the help of Pacific Integral we gathered 21 late stage responses and completed some statistical analysis.

The initial data presents some compelling results:

  • Tell new stories
  • Understand climate shadows

What people think about climate warming:

  • Distant (climate issue is distant)
  • Doom (issue frames as disaster)
  • Dissonance (lack of convenient climate friendly behaviours weaken attitudes over time)
  • Denial (gives refuge from fear, guilt and threats)
  • Identity ( activates cultural filters so one’s identity overrides facts).

We have ineffective climate communication.

This research shows that successful ways of communication are: personal , offer cognitive framing, reduce dissonance, and avoid triggering.

Later stages of development provide whole framings.

We need to understand Climate Shadow – the What and Why of shadow – leads to disruption, regulation, fear – key reasons why climate policies fail.

Science Daily says: Data shows increasing political polarisation on climate change.

We can’t fragment society … we must seek deep relationship, be open and ordered.

We tend to “other” people who deny climate change. How can we/they connect instead?

Later stages demonstrate compassion re emotions and climate shadow. Construct Aware tend to see that the denial is a function of the worldview they inhabit and the filters on awareness.

We are seeking to enact new responses – look at our just published article: Fractal Approaches to Scaling Transformation to Sustainability  (O’Brien et al).

Later levels respond in novel ways:

  • Achiever (3.5) responses are urgent.
  • Individualist (4.0) responses are outraged at the structural, political dimension and calling out about the reality of climate change.
  • Strategist (4.5) responses are moved to act, but from a less urgent place, more as being deeply called to do something.

It looks like we need to bring forward earlier stages … to transcend and include [our own responses and those of others].

(Gail Hochachka and Stephen Münzner  followed this keynote with a workshop on mindful practice for conscious climate change.)

So what could this mean?

Gail’s reframing of climate responses within an adult development model (STAGES) reveals that all responses are not arising from the same worldview or values system.

This insight helps us to understand the differing responses in a compassionate way.

It gives us strategies for communicating in ways that make sense to different stages. Taking an approach where “one size does not fit all” can guide policy framing and implementation.

This means that communications should be designed to resonate with the values, key words and worldviews of at least 3 stages of development.

Rather than dismiss people whose response to climate change is different than your own, it is more productive to be curious and open conversations that help us appreciate why and how people hold their opinions.

This research contributes to strategies for designing communications and policies that in turn support strategies for action across a span of adult development.

Now what can we do?

Here are 3 possible actions/responses we can take to experience Finding One’s Own Soul-Centric Climate Action:

  1. Be curious about your own response to climate change – can you assess and align your response with an adult development model like STAGES Roadmap. Can this help you to find actions that you can support and share with others?
  2. Look for action oriented models like Cool Blocks (Empowerment Institute) that offer a range of strategies and actions so that people can choose a place to start and become aware of how their choices impact their families, neighbours, communities, and cities using Integral City Map 2.
  3. Practise compassion instead of judgement when you meet people with differing views on climate change than yours. Share this approach with policy makers so that policies include people instead of marginalizing them. Use Integral City 4 Voices, Intelligences and Maps to embrace a whole systems approach.