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The Musical Activist: Episode 1 – Julia Steinberger

IN BRIEF References (Full refs below)

  1. Read Julia’s blog:
  2. Explore her team’s website:
  3. Listen to Sarah’s music here
  4. Look at this: by J Fercrelli
  5. Watch these:
  6. Check out:
  7. Sign this:
  8. Join this: and
  9. If you’re feeling in an academic mood, read Julia’s papers (refs in link above) & the IPCC report:

Corrections: The time to regrow branches of mammalian tree of life is vaguer than we thought: “millions” not “10 million” as Julia said. The time it’s going to take us to roll back the planet’s climate clock: 50 million years is actually 2100 under current emission trajectories. 3 million by 2030 is correct.

FULL References – reading, pictures and twitter links

  1. The intro track Look at the Sky is from my first album We’re inside and outside: listen here and read more here
  2. The IPCC Special Report, which is deemed ‘conservative’ by all climate scientists gives us only 12 years to completely stop emissions:
  3. I mentioned an environmental arts charity I worked for in Brighton:
  4. Lamb, W. F. and J. K. Steinberger (2017). “Human well-being and climate change mitigation.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 8(6): e485-n/a.
  5. Julia’s blog:
  6. Blog pt 3: featuring the excellent tweet by Kate Aronoff
  7. Kate Raworth Doughnut Economics and here, ,you can see the 150 different doughnuts of countries around the world, including the ‘best case’ Vietnam.
  8. 3D Interactive website: ‘Explore scenarios’ Where you can change life expectancy vs use of resources etc. 
  9. George Monbiot: Out of the Wreckage If you’re time-limited, at least check out especially the bits about extrinsic and intrinsic values (pp.7-9) and the new story (pp.25-6).
  11. Explore the different scenarios at:
  12. O’Neill, D. W., A. L. Fanning, W. F. Lamb and J. K. Steinberger (2018). “A good life for all within planetary boundaries.” Nature Sustainability 1(2): 88-95.
  13. The policy idea of Basic Income chimes with the idea of us spending our time doing things that are useful in different ways to keeping the current machine going.
  14. A nice, funny film about how to talk to people with different values about Climate Change: from Climate Outreach
  15. Molly Scott Cato MEP has a lot of brilliant ideas:
  16. Corrections on numbers: The time to regrow branches of mammalian tree of life is vaguer than we thought: “millions” not “10 million” as Julia said. The time it’s going to take us to roll back the planet’s climate clock: 50 million years is actually 2100 under current emission trajectories, not 2050 as I said. 3 million by 2030 is correct.
  17. Time-lapse film:
  18. The Day After Tomorrow Studio: 20th Century Fox Director: Roland Emmerich Screenwriter: Roland Emmerich, Jeffrey Nachmanoff. Cast inc Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal
  19. Sydney Azari quote
  20. Kate Aranoff’s brilliant tweet in in Blog pt 3 above
  21. The really nice decision tree “So, you’re ready to take action against climate change?” by J Fercrelli, also see below
  22. and local groups: see main website and facebook
  23. You can donate to help their fossil fuels divestment programme.


Sign this ‘Declare a Climate Emergency’ petition to the UK government:

If you’re interested in listening to some more experts about how you might help communicate the climate emergency, you could listen to this really informative panel:


Climate Comms Project

Pliocene and Eocene provide best analogs for near-future climates
K. D. Burke, J. W. Williams, M. A. Chandler, A. M. Haywood, D. J. Lunt, B. L. Otto-Bliesner
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Dec 2018, 115 (52) 13288-13293; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1809600115

Energising Human Development by Julia Steinberger, 14 April 2016

Sharing creative ideas paper

Paragraphs that I’d highlighted of Julia’s first paper we mention:

‘…many consuming activities can be substantially reduced or substituted through alternative forms of social provisioning without a concomitant impact on well‐being…’

Consumption—the acquisition and use of commodities and services which rely on biophysical resources—is represented in mainstream economic thought as an expression of preferences through purchases in the marketplace. According to the classical axiom of maximizing utility, more consumption implies more satisfied preferences, hence higher well‐being. By contrast, consumption is often not seen as an intrinsically fulfilling activity in the happiness literature, but as an intensely competitive means to acquire social status and scarce goods.103104 One’s position in the hierarchy of wealth is therefore a major determinant of individual well‐being.105 In human needs theories, consumption has only a limited role: it is necessary to satisfy distinct domains of material need (such as shelter, nutrition, education), but since these needs are satiable, exceeding a threshold of consumption is both unnecessary and potentially counterproductive.32106

That well‐being theory may in itself provide a reason for de‐incentivizing consumption—either because it is revealed as a zero‐sum positional game (empirical happiness research), or because it delivers highly diminishing returns beyond thresholds of material need satisfaction (human needs theory)—has been taken as a standard argument in various anti‐growth literatures,62123 and even advocated as policy by the UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.107 Yet, while researchers often shy away from the difficult normative discussion of limiting the GHG emitting activities of individuals and collectives to an upper level,108 these suggestions do frequently appear on the ‘supply‐side’ of biophysical resources, most famously in the planetary boundaries concept,109 or the 2°C goal of the Paris Agreement, which can be associated with a strict and limited budget of emissions.54 

From an inter‐ and intra‐generational justice perspective, this issue is of central importance, particularly where high‐emitting activities constitute a limitation on the life chances of other individuals—as is the case where basic ‘subsistence emissions’ come into competition with ‘luxury emissions’ within a finite carbon budget space.

If demand reduction becomes a necessary accompaniment to decarbonization (as suggested by current budget and pathway constraints), then the priority structure for enforcing mitigation in these hard‐to‐treat sectors is evident—however, so is the political challenge of implementing well‐being based emission priorities, given the prevailing consumption patterns and interests of powerful elites.111

Minimum provisioning proposals have been a consistent and important strand of literature in the mitigation literature on inter‐ and intra‐generational equity… This is the essential principle of Shue’s ‘Subsistence Emissions,’37 Baer’s ‘Greenhouse Development Rights,’35121 Rao and Baer’s ‘Decent Living Emissions,’36122 and Raworth’s ‘Safe and Just Operating Space.’123 

[This] entails new and crucial challenges for climate change mitigation research. Namely, it requires the interdisciplinary engagement of social theory to examine and critique socio‐technical provisioning systems; from the everyday practices of how humans use and interact with technologies, to the wider social relations, behaviours and norms that shape patterns of production and consumption.140144 Rather than simply studying social patterns of consumption, however, this research should be oriented towards the end‐point of human well‐being satisfaction,114and prepared to engage with the politics inherent in changing production patterns, given the power of vested interests.145

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People we mentioned who you could follow on Twitter: