Drowned World by Janet Lees, from her Anthropocene Prophecy series in Unpsychology 4, Climate Minds Anthology

Reflections of a Climate Mind

It is late. It is time. To wake up.

Steve Thorp
unpsychology voices
6 min readMar 28, 2018


The fourth edition of Unpsychology Magazine — Climate Minds Anthology has just been published. It consists of 160+ pages of essays, poetry, fiction and artwork by a range of artists, writers and activists from around the world. It is available as a FREE download from www.unpsychology.org/latest-issue/ or from HERE. Below Steve Thorp (editor, with Julia Macintosh, of the current issue) reflects on his own ‘climate mind’ and on some of the issues that the artists and writers face up to in their work in the anthology.

Here I am sitting in the Tower Room of our local tourism and arts centre, Oriel y Parc in St Davids. It’s a lovely day — one of those early Spring days when there is a chilly wind, but the daffodils are coming out, and the crows outside are in full voice. I’m doing a writer’s residency, and it is a little surprising to find myself here: my younger self would have been impressed (perhaps, even puzzled) to find me surrounded by my words, beautifully presented by my illustrator daughter, Ruth, in a gallery in West Wales!

Why did I start by writing this? Well, it’s context I suppose, and it’s a good example of how human life — ordinary, creative and relational life — can seem just right. Nothing much could be wrong on a day like today; surely nothing needs changing?

And yet I know this to be untrue. There is so much, in me and in the world, that could do with some attention; some transformation.

One of these big things — a ‘super-wicked problem’ as the change people call it — is Climate Change. Now this is a change that we could have done without, and now we are forced to do something with it. Like with other social and political issues, it’s so easy to take a stance, but I’m not sure this works with Climate Change.

Yes, of course there are polarities*: even among the majority of us who accept that human-caused climate change is a problem/crisis there are those at one end of the scale — the uber-pessimists — who basically say that we’re heading for a fall, or even a human extinction event. At the other end are the climate optimists: “Yes, we can!”, they tell us, and set out just how this can be done, if only, if only, there was the political will — and perhaps, even if there is not! Many more, perhaps, accept the reality of the crisis, but would rather not think or talk about it. And then there are the climate sceptics and deniers — though there seem to be fewer of those these days, some of them just so happen to be running the world at the moment!

Cover image by Jenny Arran — www.jennyarran.co.uk

When I came up with the theme of Climate Minds for the current issue of Unpsychology Magazine, I didn’t want to take a stance. I’m not really clear about where I stand on the scale that runs from despair to hope, and I’m not certain about anything anymore — not really. Don’t get me wrong, I think that this is psychologically and politically healthy, but uncertainty isn’t trending. Take a stand and give it a hashtag (#Iamrightyouarewrong) seems to be the sign of the times.

I am pretty certain that climate change is a crisis — an emergency — that needs responding to; but the only thing I can think of that may really help us is to be deeply imaginative in response to this thing (or imaginal, as James Hillman liked to say). I am, of course, concerned about the world we will leave to our children and grandchildren — but also find myself responding to the world we are creating right now. In some ways it is what we are creating — in our climate minds — that is the most important thing.

What are we saying to each other about the climate crisis and the other crises we have created and are faced with? What are we not saying?

Between Two by Ruth Thorp from Soul Meditations by Steve Thorp, 2016

There’s a parallel with psychotherapy here. A good therapeutic conversation will always seek out imaginative ways of having the most difficult conversation — of facing the most awful (and beautiful) truth. This applies as much in relation to the pain and potential ‘out there’ as it does to the pain and potential we carry and regard as our own.

The Climate Crisis. We need to talk about this thing and to do this free (for some of the time at least) of certainty, blame, anger, guilt and self-righteousness. Whatever we are in, we are in it together, and we each need to own the thoughts and feeling that emerge from this situation — this ‘super-wicked problem’. “Making the climate crisis personal” as Zhiwa Woodbury puts it in the latest Unpsychology Magazine.

This is what the Climate Minds edition of the magazine attempts to do — to give voice to responses to this crisis and to allow people (artists, writers, activists — anyone) to let the implications (whatever they may be) settle. There is always a time for action, but sometimes our words, our stories and our imaginations are just as important as the stuff we do.

Back cover image by Jenny Arran — www.jennyarran.co.uk

If the pessimists are right, what is needed is for us to prepare for what is to come, and to imagine new and fundamentally different ways of living in the future, rather than a series of ameliorating actions within the political, economic and cultural frames that take us back below the danger line — back to doing business as usual with a bit less oil…

Whatever emerges, these conversations are necessary in these times. Conversations about how we can take forward some integrated sense of living for human beings in the times to come. Imaginal, creative responses and stories we can tell our children’s children that let them know that at least we tried.

It is late

It is late. I write for freedom –

a word or two on survival.

I write songs for the future

and poems to chart fate.

It is time. To wake up.

To live our dreaming

and face the fearsome truths

we have been storing underground.

It is awful, this truth we have not faced.

Yet, I will dedicate my song to its unravelling.

This is for you, my darling children.

It is late by Steve Thorp appears in Unpsychology 4: The Climate Minds Anthology, 2018.

The Climate Minds edition of Unpsychology Magazine is available NOW, as a free download from: https://mailchi.mp/23b6533dbb97/unpsychology-magazine-4-climate-minds and you can find out more about the magazine at www.unpsychology.org

*Climate optimism and pessimism — some examples:

  1. Climate optimists: www.climateoptimist.org
  2. Climate optimists/realists: www.drawdown.org
  3. Optimistic pessimists: www.climatescienceawarenesssolutions.org
  4. Imaginal pessimists: dark-mountain.net
  5. Uber-pessimists: guymcpherson.com



Steve Thorp
unpsychology voices

Editor of Unpsychology Magazine. Author, Soul Manifestos and other publications. Psychotherapist & poet. Warm Data host.