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Climate Change and the Elephant in the Living Room


Climate Change and the Elephant in the Living Room
Examples of other elephants in the living room
Elephants in the climate change discourse: deforestation and population
Challenge of tracking living room elephants
Invisibility of elephants due to "negative hallucination": the "art of not seeing"
Symmetrical vision: beyond the self-delusion of optimism, positive thinking and hope-mongering
Elephant as metaphor of the unconscious
Insights into elephant invisibility from technical metaphors
Elephant detection: the traditional case of "7 blind men"
Elephant detection: the use of other senses
Implications of "seeing the elephant"
Metaphoric cause for reflection
Proactive response to living room elephants: "big game hunters"?
Elephants as a potential security threat
Recognizing the herd of elephants in the living room of climate change discourse
Recognizing the shadowy roundtable in the living room of climate change discourse
Systemic relationship of functional "climates" in climate (of) change discourse

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This exploration was engendered by the approaches to climate change articulated in sessions of the general assembly
of the World Academy of Art and Science (Hyderabad, 2008).


The debate on climate change has offered many occasions for reference to the proverbial "elephant in the living room". Climate change itself has been seen in this way as an unmentionable feature in a context of efforts to ensure "business as usual". Indicative examples include:

Now that "climate change" has become an acceptable topic of discourse, the concern in what follows is the identification of any elephants in the living room with respect to climate change discourse -- namely topics that are implicitly recognized but cannot be formally acknowledged. The expression helpfully illustrates the possible dimensions of the challenge of overpopulation -- that it is so easy to ignore in common discourse. The argument builds on a detailed earlier study (Institutionalized Shunning of Overpopulation Challenge: incommunicability of fundamentally inconvenient truth, 2008).

The approach is to consider a range of such elephants and to clarify understandings of the "art of not seeing", notably in the light of "negative hallucination". These considerations are used to clarify the nature of possible elephants in the discourse on climate change.

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