The Environmental Crisis and Art: Thoughtlessness, Responsibility, and Imagination

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Climate change is a defining issue of our time for which the immediate as well as potential future scope causes enormous impediments to human understanding and comprehension. It is argued here that humans ought to make wise use of their capacity of thinking, language, and communication in working on the task of responsible action. Required is nothing less than moving out of “thoughtlessness”, an unresponsiveness and ignorance in particular towards certain environmental problems. As human beings, we are a species on this planet that is uniquely capable to think and foresee potential consequences and hold power to induce change on our actions. It is up to human beings to confront challenges such as climate change, to consider what has been critically assessed in thought and reflect on potential responses. Crucial in this dialog is the ability to take the standpoint of the other –– including that of species as well as ecosystems –– in human imagination. It also means to develop a sensibility for the other in making sense of the world that today is largely shaped by humans. Throughout history, narratives, stories, images, artistic expressions have all played a key role for imaginative ventures that allow the mind to imagine the past, present, and the future. Language and communication can serve comprehension of an issue like climate change and provide a path in developing responsible responses to abstract problems of complex global future dimensions.


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