Environmental subjectivities and experiences of climate extreme-driven loss and damage in northern Australia

Guy Jackson*

*Corresponding author for this work

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Australia has objectively suffered climate extreme-driven loss and damage—climate change impacts that cannot or will not be avoided. Recent national surveys demonstrate a growing awareness of the link between climate change and climate extremes. However, climate extremes interact with existing environmental subjectivities (i.e., how people perceive, understand, and relate to the environment), which leads to different social, cultural, and political responses. For example, people in northern Australia are familiar with climate extremes, with the heat, humidity, fires, floods, storms, and droughts intimately connected to identities and sense of place. In this climate ethnography, I demonstrate the value of undertaking environmental subjectivities analyses for research on climate-society relations. I detail how environmental subjectivities influence people’s experiences, or non-experiences, of climate extreme-driven loss and damage in northern Australia. I identify a growing concern for climate change and climate extremes are influencing environmental subjectivities. Yet, many northern Australians—even people concerned about climate change—are not, for now, connecting extreme events to climate change. A widespread subjectivity of anticipatory loss supplied people with an imagined temporal buffer, which contributes to non-urgency in political responses. Together with more structural political-economic barriers and a sense of helplessness to affect progressive change, limited action beyond individual consumer decisions and small-scale advocacy are occurring. These, amongst other, findings extend research on the role of climate extremes in climate opinion, lived experiences of loss and damage in affluent contexts, and the environmental value-action gap.
Original languageEnglish
Article number93
Number of pages21
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number7
Early online date30 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes

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