Comfort in chaos: A sensory account of climate change denial

This paper argues that sensory practices that insulate individual bodies from the effects of climate disruption may enable and perpetuate a distinct form of climate change denial. Existing scholarship has established the ways in which climate-modifying technologies, such as air conditioning, reconfigure socio-ecological relationships through sensory norms. This paper extends this analysis by relating these sensory norms to contemporary discourses on climate denial. Drawing on a heatwave case study in Western Sydney, Australia, the paper explores how practices of thermal comfort for particular, often privileged, bodies may be understood as sensory enablers of climate change denial. This work encourages theoretical movement beyond the scientific and political disembodiment that often characterises contemporary climate change denial discourse, and urges greater attention to the sensory drivers of climate-related behaviours, experiences, and perceptions. This sensory approach may allow theoretical and strategic engagement with otherwise hidden social barriers to sustainable climate interventions and action.

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Volume 41 Issue 1

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