The Great Turning Times – a free quarterly email newsletter about finding our power to respond to global crisis. Bringing together ecology, psychology, spirituality and global politics, it lists events, news and resources to support the shift towards a life sustaining society.

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the September 2005 Great Turning Times. I’m sorry this edition is late, but the delay allows me to comment on recent extreme weather events and their subsequent reporting in the press. Could the shock of multiple hurricanes become the turning point where we, as a society, wake up to the reality of climate change? Or will hurricanes Katrina, Orphelia and Rita just become further markers on a continued downward spiral? Which way this goes depends in part on whether the connections are made.

In a speech about climate change in July 2004, Sir David King, the UK government’s top scientist, said, "On current trends, cities like London, New York and New Orleans will be among the first to go” (A). I remembered those words when I saw the pictures of a city under water. Yet climate change was hardly mentioned in the reporting of this tragedy. The BBC had a web page full of stories about Katrina, yet no mention of the bigger picture of increasing climate disturbance. I began a news search to explore how the issue was being covered elsewhere. This led me to a startling headline. “Green hotheads exploit hurricane tragedy” (B). This column by Michael Fumento at slates journalist Ross Gelbspan and lawyer/campaigner Bobby Kennedy Jnr for writing articles suggesting that Katrina had anything to do with Global Warming. Here’s what he had to say.

“Time for an ice-water bath, hotheads. If you’d bothered to consult the scientists (remember them?) you’d find they’ve extensively studied the issue and found no evidence that global warming – assuming it’s actually occurring – is causing either an increase in frequency or intensity of hurricanes.”

In the Times online (Sept 2nd), US correspondent Gerard Baker criticised Channel 4’s Jon Snow, among others, expressing a similar tone. In a leading article entitled “After the Katrina tragedy, the looters come with their lies and half-truths” he writes:

“And then came the predictable exploitation of the tragedy for political purposes, the dishonest advancing of an ideological agenda.
In Katrina’s case, the intellectual looters have busied themselves with plundering half-truths and false analyses to advance one of their most precious agendas: global warming.”

The next week, (Yahoo News, 11th Sept), John Prescott, Britain’s deputy Prime Minister, stood accused of insensitivity and political opportunism. His crime? Saying: "The horrific flood of New Orleans brings home to us the concern of leaders of countries like the Maldives, whose nations are at risk of disappearing completely.”

I’m interested in what’s happening here. It appears that linking Katrina and Global Warming in the same sentence is being labelled a morally corrupt act. We need to look to this.

Firstly, is there evidence linking hurricanes to Climate Change?

In my scanning of articles on the web, I find scientists who say there is, and others who say there isn’t. But most climate scientists agree that the oceans are slowly getting warmer. In particular, the sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico have been much higher than normal this summer (over 30 degrees C). As hurricanes are known to draw their energy from moist air over warm water, this may well have played a role in increasing the intensity of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Penny Whetton, principal researcher at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization's (CSIRO) Climate Change Risk and Impact Division in Melbourne, says (C) "There is diminishing room for doubting that in terms of wind velocities, depths of central low pressure in the eye of the hurricane and the discharge of destructive energy these storms are reaching new levels of intensity. It is also a reasonable hypothesis that the elevation of sea surface temperatures in some way contributes to this."

Three scientific papers published over the last few months add to the evidence that hurricanes are increasing in intensity and that this may be related to warming of the oceans. First Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado (Science, vol 308, p 1753) showed that the annual rate of major hurricanes had more than doubled, when comparing the periods 1970 to 1994 with 1995 to 2004. While there is wide fluctuation in the number of severe hurricanes that can happen in any year, there had been a consistent increase in hurricane intensity and rainfall over the 20th century.

The second paper, showing a link between increased hurricane intensity and increased ocean temperature, was published in the journal Nature just a month before Katrina struck. In it (D), Professor Emmanual, a leading climatologist, writes: “My results suggest that future warming may lead to an upward trend in tropical cyclone destructive potential, and — taking into account an increasing coastal population — a substantial increase in hurricane-related losses in the twenty-first century”

And in September, a paper in Science (vol 309, p 1844) analysed satellite data of hurricane intensity and ocean temperatures. It showed that while the total number of hurricanes had not increased in the last 35 years, there had been a near doubling of those at the most severe end of the scale, the category 4 and 5 hurricanes. “We can say with confidence that the trends in sea surface temperatures and hurricane intensity are connected to climate change,” said co-author Judy Curry, of the Georgia Institute of Technology (E).

“This trend has lasted for more than 30 years now. So the chances of it being natural are fairly remote,” says Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) at Boulder, Colorado.“The tendency to Katrina-like hurricanes is increasing,” Holland says. Without the warmer sea-surface temperatures, “Katrina might only have been a category 2 or 3”.(E).

While any one particular hurricane can’t be blamed solely on climate change, the warming of the oceans does appear to create a context where intense hurricanes are more likely.

When I look back at the articles denying the link between climate change and Hurricane Katrina, I wonder what’s going on. I see the repeated assertion that recent hurricane activity is nothing out of the ordinary, and that it is due to periodic hurricane cycles that get worse every few decades. “In fact” writes Michael Fumento, “according to the National Hurricane Center, the peak for major hurricanes (levels 3, 4, and 5) came between 1930 and 1950.” What he doesn’t say is that the years 2003 and 2004 were the worst ever recorded over a two year period. And 2005 could become the worst recorded for any one year.

Looking closer it becomes clearer. Michael Fumento is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. This is a think tank funded by Exxon Mobil and other large corporations. An article similar to Fumento’s was from a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, also funded by Exxon Mobil. Is there a concerted campaign to attack news sources linking Katrina with climate change and to spread misleading information instead? This is not a far fetched allegation. It is now well known that the tobacco industry engaged in a similar campaign of misinformation. They strategically targeted magazines and journals, using scientific sounding language to create an impression of doubt about medical evidence showing tobacco was harmful. Parts of the oil industry have spent millions trying to hoodwink the public into believing that Climate Change isn’t happening, or that if it is, it isn’t linked to human activity. Attempts to squash the Katrina link are just the latest episode in this.

In my work in the addictions field, I explore with clients how crisis can become a turning point. When something awful happens, it can become the hitting bottom that leads to positive change. For such a turning to occur, the client needs to recognise the link between the disaster and the behaviours that made it more likely. Whether this happens with Katrina or not depends on how we look. If Exxon Mobil get their way, New Orleans will be viewed as one of those unlucky accidents. The downward spiral will continue, perhaps Bangladesh, The Maldives, London, New York, Cairo, Calcutta, Miami, Mumbai, Sydney, Shanghai, Lagos or Tokyo will be next. The question is - just who are we being insensitive to if we talk about Katrina as a wake up call? Certainly not the people in New Orleans.

There are some things we can do to counteract the disinformation campaign. The first is talk with people. If you’re not sure what the facts are, form a study action group. All you need for this are a few other people who share your concern and who are willing to support each other in finding out more. Each person does a bit of research, and then you present your findings to each other. Aim for small groups where you have an enjoyable and supportive experience of meeting each other. From there you can plan your response.

A second option for action is each time you see news coverage about extreme weather events that doesn’t mention the bigger picture, complain. On many news websites, there are options to add comments that become readable by others. You only need say a few lines. What you’re doing is providing an antidote to the denial.

The third option is what this newsletter is all about. It is to ask yourself a simple question: “How could the Great Turning occur through me?” The Great Turning is the historical process of moving away from an industrial growth orientated society that is destroying our world, towards a life sustaining society based on values and ways of living that support life. Big changes happen through many small changes. Each of our choices is like a vote. Many of our little turnings can all contribute to the larger change required. This newsletter aims to provide you with news of events, resources, insights and information that help this happen.

Best wishes
Chris Johnstone.
Editor, The Great Turning Times.

A. BBC website, 14th July 2004
B. 8th Sept 2005
C. Quoted by THE OBSERVER , CANBERRA, Sunday, Sep 11, 2005,Page 9
D. You can download this paper at
E. Quoted in New Scientist 15th September 2005 (see and head for Climate change section)

If you like this email newsletter, please do pass it on. If it has been forwarded to you and you’d like it regularly, email me with SUBSCRIBE in the subject header. If you want to stop receiving it, please email me with “REMOVE” as a subject header. It comes out four times a year, with editions in September, December, March and June. Copy date for entries is last day of month before next edition. Please let me know of events, news, resources etc that you would like included. Please also keep entries short, ideally about 100-200 words.
(1) WEBSITE APPEAL. The Great Turning Times is free, but if you find it useful, I ask for your help in its development. I’m setting up a GTT website, and appeal for donations to help this happen. The website will include past editions, information resources, events listings and links to other sites relevant to The Great Turning. Please send cheques to Gaiabeat Productions, 24a, Balmoral Road, St Andrews, Bristol BS7 9AZ, UK. We can accept direct transfers from banks outside the UK. If you can donate graphics, ideas, enthusiasm, technical support, web design or other useful things, that would be very welcome too. Please email me at
Gaiabeat Productions is a social enterprise set up by myself and Alex Wildwood to produce resources and promote events that further the Great Turning towards a life sustaining society. See (8) below for more information about this.
(2) If you’re from outside the UK and would prefer the international edition of this newsletter that includes the same news and resources for the Great Turning, but without details of the UK events, please email me at The international edition is in its development phase, so if you’ve received the UK edition and you’re from elsewhere in the world, don’t worry. By December I should be more up to speed on this. Please do let me know what’s happening in your part of the world though.
(3) It was Joanna Macy who coined the phrase ‘The Great Turning’ to describe the story of change required in our times. An interview with her about this can be downloaded from the Yes magazine website at
An article by her about The Great Turning is viewable at
There is more material on her website at
(4) Last May, Joanna Macy gave a talk in Oxford called “Climate Change and other great adventures”. Thanks to Jo Hamilton and George Marshall from the Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN), the transcript of this talk is now available at

COIN was formed in October 2002 to provide workshops, materials, and information on the issues and implications of climate change and to promote locally based solutions. It specialises in providing materials to support small organisations working at a local community level. For info see their website at
(5) One of my other favourite websites has grown since I last looked at it. is packed full of live steaming video interviews with inspiring people. They are usually short clips of about five minutes, but sometimes longer. Included are Deepak Chopra, Lester Brown, Julia Butterfly Hill, Vandana Shiva, Nelson Mandela, George Mombiot, Marshall Rosenberg and lots of others. You get better picture with broadband, but it is watchable without it. All you need is just five minutes of this every day, and you’ll be surprised at how different you might feel.
(6) I’m hearing reports that small groups are setting up in a number of cities/regions to support people taking part in the Great Turning. If you are part of such a group, please email me and let me know what you’re up to. A directory can then be developed.
(7) THE ELM DANCE CD IS NOW AVAILABLE. Those of you who’ve participated in workshops with Joanna Macy may know this dance. Scott Morrison in Bath has copied the music onto CD, together with the Earth Tone. It costs £5, and for this you get the CD plus a booklet telling about the background to the dance. All profits from this raise funds for hand held radiation monitors. To order copies, please contact Scott on at
To order copies in North America, please contact Doug Mosel at
(8) Gaiabeat Productions is a social enterprise set up to produce resources promoting the Great Turning. We spent a day filming Joanna Macy in May, and are working on a DVD introducing her work. Details should be included in December’s Great Turning Times. Watch this space!
(9) Ex-oil lobbyist watered down US climate research
A former oil industry lobbyist edited the Bush administration's official policy papers on climate change to play down the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, The Guardian reported on 9th June 2005, (see,11319,1502486,00.html )

Documents released by a watchdog group, the Government Accountability Project, show that as chief of staff for the White House council on environmental quality, Philip Cooney watered down government scientific papers on climate change and played up uncertainties in the scientific literature. Mr Cooney is a law graduate and has no scientific training. The newly released documents, printed in the New York Times, show handwritten notes by Mr Cooney deleting paragraphs and editing others drafted by government scientists. He inserted "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties" in a section assessing the solidity of the evidence for climate change. Mr Cooney also introduced the word "extremely" to the sentence: "The attribution of the causes of biological and ecological changes to climate change or variability is extremely difficult."
The New York Times article from 8th June 2005 is viewable at
(10) Recommended website:
SourceWatch's primary focus is on documenting public relations firms, think tanks, industry-funded organizations and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interests. It was from this website that I found out The Hudson Institute and The Cato Institute were both funded by Exxon Mobil.
(11) Another great website is at:
Based on work by Donella Meadows looking at what the world would look like if represented of a community of 100 people. There are text versions in several languages, and a moving flash version.
(12) What is the Great Turning?
A short essay by Joanna Macy is viewable at
It offers a good introduction.
(13) How many planets would be needed if everyone lived like you?
You can find out by completing the ecological footprint questionnaire at
This is a great pointer towards the type of lifestyle that the planet can afford, as well as alerting you if you are far from this.
For international edition, just stop reading here! But please do send me snippets of news of what’s happening in your country, so that December’s edition can have a more international perspective.
(14) UK workshops in The Work That Reconnects, Deep Ecology, Personal Power for The Planet
If you’re running workshops or events that strengthen people’s capacity to take part in the Great Turning,
please let me know, so that I can include details in this newsletter. If you’d like to help organise a workshop in your area, please let me know, and I can put you in touch with a local facilitator. Email:
Once we get the website up, we’ll have an events listing that will be regularly updated.
This can include events and workshops outside the UK too.

Alex Wildwood is developing a register of facilitators of such workshops; if you would like to go on this, please email him on
(15) The End of Oil – and it’s consequences for food, climate and the economy. A one day conference
11th October 2005, London.
Speakers include Michael Meacher MP, Tim Lang, Chris Skrebowski.
Fee: £25/50 Book at or phone 01603 592838
(16) National Demonstration on Climate Change, London, Saturday 3rd December
Part of an international Day of Climate Protest. Also planning meeting October 1st in Oxford.
See for details.
(17) Bristol Schumacher Lectures 2005 SHAPING OUR FUTURE Sat 29 Oct 2005, 10am-5pm, St Georges Bristol, Great George Street


The theme of this year's Bristol Lectures springs out of a growing concern about humanity's seemingly blind collision course with its own future. We have become used to taking nature's riches without much concern about the consequences for the world or for future generations. With unprecedented global human populations and use of resources we face the urgent need to consciously shape our future. Are we up to the challenge?


JAKOB VON UEXKULL President, World Future Council

BUILDING MORAL POWER From The Right Livelihood Awards to The World Future Council

Jakob von Uexkull is the founder and president of the World Future Council Initiative. He is also founder of The Right Livelihood Award, and past Member of the European Parliament. From 1987 to 1989 he was a member of the Delegation for Relations with the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. He is a former trustee of the New Economics Foundation, London, a patron of Friends of the Earth International, and a member of the Global Commission to Fund the United Nations. He has served on the Board of Greenpeace, Germany, and is on the Council of Governance of Transparency International. He lectures widely on sustainable development and peace issues.

MARY-JAYNE RUST Practising Jungian Analyst

PSYCHOLOGY FOR A CHANGE - From Inertia to Inspiration for Action

Mary-Jayne Rust is an ecopsychologist working in North London. Eating problems and addiction has been a major theme in her work as a therapist, and this has naturally led to a wider interest in our addiction to consumerism. She has been a central figure in the emerging Ecopsychology movement in the UK for the past decade, a movement which is using psychology in service to the earth. In her lecture she will speak about the psychological dimensions of making lifestyle changes, and the reasons we may have for not doing what we know is best for us - and for all beings with whom we share this planet.

TIM SMIT Chief Executive, Eden Project


His humble mission is to tell the world the story of plants that changed history. With ¢G40 million of lottery money and a will of iron, Tim Smit spearheaded a campaign to turn a pit into a paradise. The scale and beauty of his Eden Project in Cornwall cannot fail to impress. It boasts a convention of hexagonal eco-bubbles, massive greenhouses encapsulating Mediterranean landscapes, tropical rainforests and what Smit calls °ßa living theatre of plants°®; at the last count, 250,000 of them. This achievement follows on the success of his Lost Gardens of Heligan which with 350,000 visitors a year became the subject of a television documentary.

TICKET PRICES NON MEMBERS: £30 standard, £25 restricted view MEMBERS: £20 standard, £15 restricted view

ORDERING TICKETS You can either order tickets online at: <> OR contact The Schumacher Society at the office: Tel: 0117 903 1081
(18) Low-Impact Living Initiative (LILI) is dedicated to helping protect the global environment by promoting sustainable alternatives to various aspects of everyday life. Contact them to find out more about their courses, manuals, information sheets, products and presentations.
LILI, Redfield Community, Buckingham Road, Winslow, Bucks, MK18 3LZ
(01296) 714184 web:

Here’s the courses they’re running in October.

Residential weekend course: Wind & Solar Electricity
Location: Low-impact Living Initiative, Redfield Community, Buckinghamshire
Date: October 7-9, 2005
Cost: high-waged £180 / waged £150 / unwaged £120
All food and accommodation included - plus free beers, wine, tea and biscuits!
For more details, see

Residential weekend course: Living in Communities
Location: Low-impact Living Initiative, Redfield Community, Buckinghamshire
Date: October 14-16 2005
Cost: high-waged £180 / waged £150 / unwaged £120
All food and accommodation included - plus free beers, wine, tea and biscuits!
For more details, see

Residential weekend course:Sustainable Energy for Homeowners
Location: Low-impact Living Initiative, Redfield Community, Buckinghamshire
Date: October 28-30 2005
Cost: high-waged £180 / waged £150 / unwaged £120
All food and accommodation included - plus free beers, wine, tea and biscuits!
For more details, see
(19) Gaia Theory for Beginners – a one day course at Bristol University with Chris Johnstone
Sat Oct 15th 9.30am - 4.30pm Cost £22 (Repeated Sat Dec 3rd)
at Bristol University Public Programmes Office,
8-10 Berkeley Sq, Bristol BS8
Gaia Theory proposes that the Earth is more than just a dead lump of rock that we happen to live on. Rather it can be viewed as a single living system, or ‘super-organism’, that we are part of. This course introduces the science behind Gaia Theory and also explores what it might mean for us in the fields of psychology, ecology and spirituality.
Advance booking essential: please phone 0117 928 7153 or
email Sandra Powell at
Details at:
(20) The Psychology of Personal Power – over two linked days at Bristol University with Chris Johnstone
Saturdays November 5th and 19th 9.30am to 4.30pm cost £46
at Bristol University Public Programmes Office,
8-10 Berkeley Sq, Bristol BS8
How do we find our capacity and confidence to take part in The Great Turning? This two day course offers tools and practices to develop inner strength, clarity of focus, deepened determination and the ability to overcome obstacles. We will draw on a range of psychological approaches to clarifying vision and improving effectiveness.
Advance booking essential: please phone 0117 928 7153 or
email Sandra Powell at
Details at:
Sharpham House, Ashprington, Totnes, Devon
Sunday 30 October: 10am-4pm

In a society addicted to speed and greed can we slow down and reconnect - with nature, with stillness, with a deeper part of ourselves? In the beautiful grounds of Sharpham overlooking the river Dart, we will combine writing and meditation, silence and discussion, to reconnect with trees water, earth and sky.

Cost: £12 (admin) in advance + dana/donation to facilitators on the day
Please bring vegetarian lunch to share.

Facilitators: Kim Clancy and Meg Griffiths

To book and for more info: 01803-732542 or
(22) Faith, Spirituality and Social Change

University College, Winchester
April 8th 2006

A conference bringing together people whose action for social change is
informed by their faith, organisations working with faith communities for
social change, and academics exploring faith-based social change issues.

This conference invites discussion about the dynamic dimensions of
inter-faith dialogue, and multi-faith action across a range of social
change issues. Opening the debate to include academic perspectives and
grass-roots voices will allow for broader conversations about the current
state and future direction of faith-based social change.

We invite proposals for posters, 20 minute papers or 30 minutes workshops
in the context of faith-based social change which broadly address any of
the following themes:-

Ecology and/or Environment
Gender and/or Sexuality
Education formal and/or faith-based
Cultural dimensions - including music, art, literature
Social Protest
World Development and/or Social Regeneration
Lifestyle as Protest

Proposals in the form of a title, a short abstract (300 words max.) and a
brief biographical statement including affiliation should be sent by 30
November 2005
to or

It is expected that a selection of papers from the conference will be

Speakers, papers and a provisional programme will be posted on the
conference web site as soon as they become available.
(23) Wildwise Events
* Environmental Activities for Primary Schools : with John Cree : 10 Oct,
Dartington £80/£60

* Storymaking in the Environment : with Jon Cree : 11 Oct, Dartington

* Celebrity Wild Night Out : with Nick Baker! : 28 Oct, Moretonhampstead
£50/£25/£100 family of 4

Please call for details and booking

WildWise Events Ltd
Devon TQ9 6EB

Tel: 01803 868269
Mobile 0781 349 2825

(24) Help needed – Rowsing chants for activists
Marion contacted me to say she’s compiling a tape of chants for the Great Turning. She says:
“It won’t be professional sound quality but will give people (at cost price) words and basic tunes which they can use when working towards the Great Turning. All you have to do is sing them onto my answerphone (phone 01773 852485, and wait for message). I’ll either record it direct, or get a group of friends to sing it onto the tape, whichever you prefer. Please indicate this, as well as giving a way to contact you. Or alternatively, send a tape/CD to me at 20 Main Road, Whatstandwell, Matlock, DE4 5EE.
Marion (
(25) Help needed – Clmate Change Action. Also from Marion
“Do you have any ideas for: A) striking slogans/messages for placards?
B) costumes which could be worn on actions or marches C) mini street theatre performances?
I’ve noticed how much press and TV coverage such things get, as well as the way they cheer and inspire fellow activists.
Any suggestions, however off the wall, would be appreciated. Do contact me too if you’re interested in making things like that for others to make/carry. Contact Marion at
(26) Next copydate is end of November for December edition. Please send me shortish (200 words is ideal) entries about events, news, resources, book reviews, pointers and handy tips for The Great Turning.
Best wishes