Sydney Initiative for Truth | Carbon Capitalism and Communication, Confronting Climate Crisis
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Carbon Capitalism and Communication, Confronting Climate Crisis

Co-hosted with the Sydney Environment Institute and Sydney Ideas

A panel discussion and book launch

2016 surpassed 2015 as the warmest year recorded since 1850, and 90% of the increase was due to the high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, levels not seen for 4 million years.There is now a mounting consensus that we are likely to face a continuing and intensifying climate crisis. Communication systems are playing a central role in this crisis: Firstly, as the major spaces of public representation and debate they are the key agencies organising, and disorganising, public understanding of causes, consequences, and possible solutions. Secondly, as predominantly commercial enterprises dependent on advertising revenues they actively promote an ideology of accelerated consumerism that sustains the ecologically destructive pursuit of economic growth. Thirdly, as assemblies of machines and infrastructures they deplete scarce resources in their production, consume increasing amounts of energy in their use, and exacerbate problems of waste and disposal. Fourthly, in their ‘alternative’ and oppositional forms they play important roles in organising and sustaining opposition, protest and resistance and in securing support for ecologically supporting sustainable practices.

This panel brings together activists and academics to discuss the central role of communication in environmental debates and launch the book Carbon Capitalism and Communication, Confronting Climate Crisis edited by Benedetta Brevini and Graham Murdock with Naomi Klein, Michael Mann, Alan Rusbridger, David Ritter and Blair Palese.


Alana Mann, Media and Communications Department Chair


Benedetta Brevini, Senior Lecturer in Communication and Media
Kari Norgaard, University of Oregon
David Ritter, CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific
Christopher Wright, Professor of Organisational Studies
Dr Terry Woronov, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology


Dr Alana Mann
 joined the University of Sydney in 2007 after a professional career in the media and non-profit sectors. Her teaching and research focus on how ordinary citizens get voice in policy debates regarding wicked problems such as food security and climate change. Her book Global Activism in Food Politics: Power Shift was published in 2014. Currently, Alana is involved in cross-disciplinary research projects concerning food systems with colleagues in the Sydney Environment Institute (SEI) and the Charles Perkins Centre. She is on a Faculty-wide project team exploring the crisis of ‘post-truth’ discourse, funded through the Sydney Research Excellence Initiative (SREI, 2017), and is co-CI on an Education Innovation project based in Glebe, the Social Justice Learning Lab. Her international collaborations include a comparative study of ‘land-grabbing’ with researchers in Brazil and South East Asia.

Dr Benedetta Brevini is a journalist, media activist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney. Before joining academia she worked as journalist in Milan, New York and London for CNBC and RAI. She writes on The Guardian’s Comment is Free and contributes to a number of print and web publications including the Conversation, Open democracy, Index of Censorship and Red Pepper Magazine. She is the author of Public Service Broadcasting online (2013), editor of the acclaimed volume Beyond Wikileaks(2013) and Carbon Capitalism and Communication: Confronting climate Crisis (2017).She is currently editing a new volume entitled “Media and Climate Change (2018).

Kari Norgaard is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon, Kari Norgaard is actively researching the social organisation of denial, especially regarding climate change. Over the past 10 years Dr Norgaard has published and taught in the areas of environmental sociology, sociology of culture, and sociology of emotions. This expertise led her to write a book, Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions and Everyday Life, which examines why public response to climate disruption in Western nations has been meager. 

David Ritter is the CEO of Greenpeace Australia PacificDavid returned to Australia to take up this role in 2012 after five years working in a senior campaigns position with Greenpeace in London. There he worked on the global issues of destructive fishing, deforestation and climate change. Prior to joining Greenpeace, David worked as an academic and a lawyer in both commercial and native title practices David is a widely published commentator on politics, law, history and current affairs. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Law of the University of Western Australia and a Research Affiliate of the Sydney Environment Institute.

Professor Christopher Wright is Professor of Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School where he teaches and researches organisational change, management innovation, sustainability and critical understandings of capitalism and political economy.His current research explores organisational and societal responses to climate change, with a particular focus on how managers and business organisations interpret and respond to the climate crisis. He has published on this topic in relation to issues of corporate environmentalism, corporate citizenship, organisational justification and compromise, risk, identity and future imaginings. His research on climate change and business is internationally recognised and he has developed research collaborations with leading international climate scientists and global environmental organisations.

Dr Terry Woronov is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Sydney. She has lived, worked, and studied in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan for many years. Dr Woronov holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, an M.Ed. from Harvard, and was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Institute for East Asian Studies at the University of California-Berkeley.She is the author of Class Work: Vocational Schools and China’s Urban Youth (2015, Stanford University Press)

December 4 @ 17:00
17:00 — 18:30 (1h 30′)

Abercrombie Business School University of Sydney NSW Australia 2006, Refectory Level 5

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