Climate Change - World Needs Dialogue of Cultures

Climate Change - World Needs Dialogue of Cultures

07 Oct 2008

Technical and economic fixes alone cannot solve the problem of climate change, according to International Relations scholar, Professor Joseph Camilleri of La Trobe University, who is currently a Visiting Scholar at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Joseph Camilleri

Professor Camilleri will address these issues in a public lecture at the University of Melbourne tomorrow, Wednesday 8 October in the Copland Theatre from 6.30pm-7.30pm.

Climate change has rightly come to occupy centre stage in national and international politics, he says, with attention directed mostly to what societies and communities should do to reduce or reverse the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Camilleri says the response so far has focused mostly on technical and economic solutions.

"Culture has been strangely absent in these discussions - yet culture is at the heart of the problem, as well as of the solution," he says.

"After all, what we produce and consume, how we produce, and how we distribute what we produce are not just economic, but profoundly cultural questions. They have to do with visions of the good life, lifestyles, attitudes to work and leisure, ethical notions regarding distribution of resources, ways of handling competing interests within and between countries.

"At issue too is our responsibility to future generations – our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. How do we take their interests into account when determining current policies? How much weight do we give to their interests as opposed to our interests when making decisions in the here and now?"

To make matters even more difficult, there is no single culture which can make sense of these questions.

"How we deal with climate change is a profoundly cultural question, but the answers may differ from culture to culture, civilisation to civilisation. We need therefore a sustained dialogue within and across cultures and civilisations. Such a dialogue would take account of different readings of history, different perspectives of the future, and different priorities, all of which require complex cultural negotiation," Professor Camilleri says.

Professor Camilleri is Professor of International Relations and Director of the Centre for Dialogue at La Trobe University. He is a Fellow of the Australian Acadamy of Social Sciences and chairs the Editorial Committee of the journal Global Change, Peace and Security. He has lectured in many parts of the world on global governance, conflict analysis, arms control and disarmament, the role of culture and religion in international relations, the policies of the great powers, terrorism and the ‘war on terror.’

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Professor Joseph Camilleri
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03 9379 3889
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j.camilleri@latrobe.edu.a

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