Welcome to this edition of the R2:1 newsletter. In it are some thoughtful reflections on the climate crisis, resilience, education and communication. We hope you find it useful. And we are always open to hearing from you. Do you have something to contribute? Just let us know.  Enjoy the newsletter.

01 - Change will be their constant
By Cheryl Bradbee, BPhil, MCS, MDiv, MLA, PhD

02 - How do architects and others figure out what to do?
By Oruba Alwan, B.Arch, LEED, AP®, OAA 

03 - Climate Psychology vs. Climate Delirium
By Aleksandar Janicijevic, Dipl. Ing. Arch

04 - Other news

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September 19, 2022

Today is the funeral of Queen Elisabeth II. Over and over again, commentators and writers have told us that she exemplified constancy and stability. We have moved to a new place. For my post-secondary students change will be their constant. It is all they will know. Stability will be hard won and always temporary.  

This past year I taught several courses focused on climate change and urban planning. Students were assigned small and large communities across Canada. They explored websites, analyzed climate data, researched mitigation and adaptation costs and investigated outcomes for humans and other species. Then they looked at case studies from around the world and from those mapped out approaches for their own assigned towns and cities.

What did they learn? First and foremost, that Canada is not well prepared for climate change. Our infrastructure is not ready. Our housing is not ready. Our cities and towns are not ready. We lack clear evacuation routes when disaster strikes. Our electrical grid is frail and easily disrupted. Food supplies are liable to disappear as supply chains break. And more than anything, we have failed to educate people on how they must prepare for what is already here. We have not transformed our thinking. This is the depressing conclusion by my students.  

Yet, I try to leave them hopeful. We explore how to transform and transition communities. How to work with various community types and income levels. We examine case studies that can inform us. And that tends to cheer them up. I tell them that we have every tool we need to adapt. We have all that we need to transform our cities. It is simply a lack of political will.  

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However, I did encounter a new problem when I shifted from teaching the course over a 12-week term to a summer 1-week intensive version. There is always a student or two in each class who focuses on doom. They end every paper and project by declaring that we are all going to die. Many times, their sense of impending demise is based on what they have seen from prepper videos (yes, it’s a genre) on YouTube. I try to counter this kind of thinking by looking at real solutions to existing and future problems. But when I moved the course to a 1 week intensive in May something shifted. It became worse. Focused daily for a week meant students were working with little relief from the subject matter. And it overwhelmed them. Several told me they had to stop for a day and just take a break. And I encouraged them to do so.  

What that told me is that when we communicate climate change, adaptation and resilience, we must do so in small bites of information. It is important not to overwhelm people, especially those who have somehow not paid attention to what is happening around them. For some, this material, especially beyond media generalities, is quite new. It is terrifying. And overwhelming. Should I teach this short course again, I will make sure to figure out a way to extend the time and make breaks along the way. People need to get away from it all in order to process it all.  

That said, the summer course students did excellent work on communities in Atlantic Canada and the Prairie provinces. They learned that managed retreat is already a thing in many Atlantic Canada communities. And they pondered how to radically transform our food system to enhance food security for communities of all sizes. They did a good job, even if overwhelmed. In the end, they all exhibited the kind of adaptive thinking and resilient behavior required for the future. And that gives me hope.

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There are many decisions to be made when a building is designed and built. One of the most important is what materials to use. Material selection may be made mostly for aesthetic reasons. Or for economy. But if the aesthetics and economics are all the same, the question may then come down to sustainability or environmental reasons. Which material is more sustainable and how do we know?  

In my classes with aspiring architectural technology students, I often pose this question to them. They frequently answer according to things they have seen on YouTube or in the news or have learned in secondary school. I ask specifically which is better to use for gutters, aluminum or plastic? They almost instinctively choose aluminum because we all know that aluminum is recyclable. After all people have collected and recycled aluminum cans for a long time.  

I then push them to dig deeper. We go to a program and use the book, Materials & the Environment by Michael F. Ashby as a reference. That allows us to calculate embodied energy, that is the energy used to produce the material in production, manufacturing, transportation, product life/use, moving and the final step of disposal. We also look at water use in production. And much to my students’ surprise, in the end, plastic turns out to be the more environmental choice for gutters. Aluminum has high embodied energy and water use. More and more plastic products are recycled in the first place and then can be recycled again. Contrary to much thinking, as we create new products from plastic it can become a more environmental choice.

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The point of my lesson for my students is not that plastic is better than aluminum. It might not be in another case or with another product. Instead, the point is that we must not make assumptions. It is far better to do the work and figure it out. That way we can make better decisions about materials and products in a building.  

Life cycle assessment for a product breaks the product’s life into various stages. It considers the inputs, outputs, and effects on the environment. Each stage is treated separately. A five-stage life cycle includes: 

  • Material Production 
  • Manufacture 
  • Transportation (manufacture, use and disposal) 
  • Use 
  • Disposal 

I also introduce them to massed timber, one of the most renewable sustainable material choices. Why? Because building with wood sequesters the carbon in it in the material in the building for as long as it stands. And even then, if in good shape, might be reused. Again, it comes down to assumptions vs reality. And as we go forward to increase our resilience, we need our eyes open and to focus on reality. 

As our Canadian architect Don Gilmore believed “I need an architecture that reflects its time and place” 

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Let’s break down the latest affront to climate change mitigation, the concept of “Climate Delirium”. In some influential business circles in Europe, people have started using this new term to explain the cause for the rise of fuel and gas prices. They blame climate activists for creating false fear and applying political pressure in order to force the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources.


Meanwhile, the concept of “Climate Psychology” gains a bigger foothold in popular culture. As defined by the Climate Psychology Alliance: “Climate Psychology describes a new way of understanding our collective paralysis in the face of worsening climate change. Climate change is not a problem waiting to be solved. It is a paradigmatic challenge to an economic system driven by fossil fuels and consuming life styles. At the deepest level, the psychological/cultural challenge lies in the belief that, as a species, we are different and special compared to other species; that nature is a resource for us to use.”


I became aware of this phenomenon after reading "Psychological roots of Climate Crisis, Neoliberal exceptionalism and culture of uncare" a book by Sally Weinterobe. It left a very strong impression on me, exposing a new psychological angle to the impending climate crisis. H. L. Wolfe, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at University of California San Francisco, USA is saying that Sally Weintrobe uses her psychoanalytic mind and her sociocultural experience to create a brilliant presentation of intersecting historical, political, economic and psychological determinants of the climate crisis. Her own care for the safety of the planet- and its human and animal inhabitants - permeates the aspect of this book that inspires the reader to face the crisis and become an agent of change. 

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I am not an expert in this field in any way, so I will just point to the long list of books, articles and papers talking about this issue. Here is a list of useful resources: 


Climate Psychology: On Indifference to Disaster, by Paul Hoggett, investigates the psycho-social phenomenon which is society’s failure to respond to climate change.


Between Power and Morality': Climate Diplomacy, an online lecture delivered by Kadir Has. It answers the following questions: What is climate diplomacy? What are the main issues involved in climate diplomacy? How do developing and developed states view climate-related challenges? What are the ethical dilemmas diplomats face when conducting climate diplomacy? 


Anxiety and climate change: a validation of the Climate Anxiety and an investigation of psychological correlates, by M. C. Wullenkord,  J.Tröger, K. R. S. Hamann, Laura S. L. & G. Reese. An excerpt: ”The climate crisis represents an existential threat to human well-being and survival. Its effects on (non)human ecosystems are tremendous and surpass previous predictions substantially. Given its existential nature, it is not surprising that people experience disturbing emotions in relation to the climate crisis. Nevertheless, empirical psychological research has only recently started to investigate climate anxiety as a specific emotional response to the climate crisis, its potential impacts on mental health and well-being, and its consequences for climate action.”


Children and youth in the climate crisis. Published online by Cambridge University Press.  It describes the impact of climate change on child and youth physical and mental health. An excerpt: ”Both the causes and consequences of climate change are inequitably distributed. It has been disproportionately caused by the Global North, also referred to as high-income countries, the minority world or the Western, educated, industrialized, rich democracies, comprising 12% of the world's population. However, it will most severely affect the Global South, where 85% of children live but the institutional capacity to respond is weaker.”


The psychological impacts of global climate change, Doherty, T. J., & Clayton, S. An excerpt: ”An appreciation of the psychological impacts of global climate change entails recognizing the complexity and multiple meanings associated with climate change; situating impacts within other social, technological, and ecological transitions; and recognizing mediators and moderators of impacts. This article describes three classes of psychological impacts: direct (e.g., acute or traumatic effects of extreme weather events and a changed environment); indirect (e.g., threats to emotional well-being based on observation of impacts and concern or uncertainty about future risks); and psychosocial (e.g., chronic social and community effects of heat, drought, migrations, and climate-related conflicts, and postdisaster adjustment.”

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As pointed by Scientific American, New York Times and some other sources, under Trump, attacks on scientists and scientific evidence became openly vicious. A well-known climate denialist, James Delingpole, writing for Breitbart News, said this as far back as 2014 about those who challenge climate denialism: "This is total war. They realize that even if you don't. Face it, we're fighting a bunch of eco Nazis, here. They are corrupt, mendacious, bullying, fascistic, misanthropic, greedy, totalitarian and rotten to the very core. And personally, every now and again, I like to remind the scum-sucking slime balls of this fact .... I love being called a “Denier". 


This is more likely “Climate Delirium”, than blaming climate activists, like us, for making “false fear and political influence”?


My main preoccupation these days is Psychogeography:  "The subjective analysis, mental reaction related to the geographic location”. In contemporary usage psychogeography is looking for genius loci, usually referring to the location's distinctive atmosphere, location with its own intelligence. I am strongly recommending to try it, walk leisurely without any prejudice. I can bet that you will find traces of both “Climate Crisis” and two standpoints of “Climate Delirium” anywhere you go.  Make sure to open your mind!


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We are looking for partners in research. R2:1 hopes to put together a coalition of people asking questions, specifically asking questions about how to better educate and communicate climate change and resilience issues. Do you have any burning questions? Let us know. We may be able to include them in a survey. Do you work with a particular age group and have thought about how to better engage them on these issues? Share with us so we can learn more.


We are planning our Board Meeting for the first week  of November. Everybody is welcome, please join us if you are interested.


And if you have a specific research project in mind, please let us know. We would be happy to help, perhaps share a grant or partner.

Resilience 2:1

We are a non-profit, volunteer driven organization incorporated federally. Members represent a diverse group of disciplines and interests, all focused on the issue of resilience for Canada through a changing climate.

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