Professor Mike Hulme at the University of East Anglia wrote a very interesting opinion piece in New Scientist last month. It was all about climate change and how fighting climate change isn’t just about the practical, natural phenomenon, but also about the social narrative phenomenon.

He says:

…the idea of climate change carries quite different meanings and seems to imply different courses of action. The IPCC has constructed a powerful scientific consensus about the physical transformation of the world’s climate. This is a reality that I believe in. But there is no comparable consensus about what the idea of climate change actually means. If we are to use the idea constructively, we first need new ways of looking at the phenomenon and making sense of it.

One way I do this is to rethink our discourses about climate change in terms of four enduring myths. I use “myths” not to imply falsehoods but in the anthropological sense – stories we tell that embody deeper assumptions about the world around us.

He then goes into explaining four classical myths and different ways we convince ourselves to dot he right thing. These stories are familiar to me, and not just to climate change. These are the kind of stories we use in social settings to convince ourselves of all kinds of things, from not murdering your neighbour, to using Free Software.