Recalibrating ‘deep frames’ – setting the cognitive compass for the voyage across the 'Straits of Transition' to the unknown lands of 'Destination: Safe Climate'

Seismic changes in the Earth’s natural systems, brought about by global warming and environmental change, present humans with a radically new physical environment. Successful navigation and survival in this terrain requires a new conceptual compass which is calibrated to its times.

Yet, informed by neuroscience, climate communication research finds that, at the subconscious level, human’s ‘deep frames’ or subconsciously held philosophical worldviews are still moored to the industrial era. Deep frames also shape perception of threat, and in relation to climate and environmental change, could inhibit Humanity’s ability to perceive danger and effectively respond to it.

Therefore, the task of this research project, was to explore framings around the idea of climate and environmental change and threat. The fields of post-human philosophy and gender studies provided initial theoretical insights, these were then refined by exploring what occurred when they were analysed alongside pragmatic ‘real-world’ considerations.

The research project found that the deep framing problem is larger, more entrenched and multi-faceted than expected. However, some new conceptual ‘life-rafts’ do exist. These new ideas are embryonic and experimental, nonetheless, in accordance with ‘Real Options analysis’, they may still expand the responsive space humans have at their disposal.  

About the Speaker

Elizabeth commenced her career with 15 years as a logistics Officer in the Australian Army. Her interest in logistics and sustainability saw her complete a Masters in this area at the University of Melbourne in 2007, where she thereafter worked in the areas of sustainable transport with the Victorian State Government and City of Melbourne. She later moved into climate risk communication with the Bureau of Meteorology.  She has worked in Africa, the Pacific Islands, the Middle East and East Timor. While completing her PhD she has done part-time research work for Defence in the area of ‘women, peace and security.’