Car spa – the rejuvenating qualities of the drive

Post by Theresa Harada and Gordon Waitt

Naomi Klein’s (2014) book ‘This changes everything’ documents the lack of political will to address climate change in any meaningful way. While she points to the neo-liberal capitalist system as the underlying problem she also makes some interesting points about why it is so difficult motivate people to change their behaviours in the light of climate change. One of her arguments is that change involves a certain level of discomfort and that many people are unwilling to give up their comfortable high emission lives. This is why government strategies that encourage individuals and households to lower their greenhouse gas emissions by for example, reducing the amount of car driving they do are not particularly successful. We argue here that it is not just physical comfort that is significant but also the emotional comforts that make it difficult to reduce driving for the sake of the environment. Continue reading

The heat on winter warming: why cultural geography can help energy policy makers

Post by Gordon Waitt

HeaterHow Australian homes are heated in winter is of recent policy interest because of greenhouse gas emissions, fuel poverty and public health risks. Policy initiatives around winter warming practices are often contradictory, advising people to heat more for health and less to save money and the environment. Furthermore, how people should live with lower winter temperatures is configured within two assumptions.  First, that households should not let the ambient temperature of the rooms in which occupants spend the day fall below 18 degrees Celsius, or, above 21 degrees Celsius. Second, that when it comes to heating choices, people are positioned as rational consumers rather than parents, grandparents, carers or employees working from home. Overlooking the personal in favour of the financial, costs are often envisaged by policy makers to be the key mechanism to change home heating choices of most Australians.

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