Workshop: Tipping Point, 5-6 November 2020

Welcome to a digital workshop at the Institute for Futures Studies!

This workshop is primarily for project researchers

The 5th and 6th November artist-duo Bigert & Bergström, together with Krister Bykvist, Kirsti Jylhä and Malcolm Fairbrother, will discuss the performative sculpture Tipping Point. The sculpture is the product of an artistic research project, funded by Formas, and connected to the Climate ethics and future generations programme, which is aimed at communicating central questions of climate, ethics, and responsibility in new and creative ways.

Reaching ten meters high and 18 metes wide, the sculpture has four arms that hold one or two platforms. Each platform displays a scene that represents states of nature or human expressions of culture, science, and technology. The platforms all interact with each other, affecting the balance of the whole structure. This fragile act of balance visualizes the complex interactions between our decisions today, climate change, and living conditions in the future.

During this workhop the researchers, together with Bigert & Bergström, will discuss different scenarios for the platforms of the sculpture. In relation to their own research they will discuss what the scenes mean to them, and how we ought to understand the problems they represent. This workshop will show how science and art together can help us understand the most pressing existential problems of our time. 

Participation will be online only. For registration contact cecilia.bystrom [at]


5 nov

10:00 – 10:30 Gustaf Arrhenius opens

10:30 – 12:00  Krister Bykvist
To be or not to be - that is the question. But what is the answer?

Lunch, 12-13

14:00 – 15:30  Kirsti Jylhä
Psychological barriers to climate action: (how) can we overcome them?

15:30 – 16:00  C losing discussion day 1

6 nov

10:00 – 12:00  Malcolm Fairbrother
Why Don’t People Want to Save the Earth? 


Krister Bykvist, Professor, Practical Philosophy
To be or not to be - that is the question. But what is the answer?

Climate change threatens the future existence of humanity. This raises the question about the value of future human lives. How valuable is it that there are human lives in the future? Unfortunately, we do not know the answer for certain. But we need to act now before the polar ice sheets melt and the sea level increases, before the forests burn down and deserts take over. We need to act now without knowing for certain the value of future lives. This does not have to paralyze decision-making, however, for we can make use of the methods that guide us in making decisions under risk when we lack knowledge about facts.


Kirsti Jylhä, PhD, Psychology
Psychological barriers to climate action: (how) can we overcome them?

Why is the world failing to meet the international climate goals? In many ways, this is puzzling. Anthropogenic climate change is virtually undisputed among climate researchers, almost all nations have signed and ratified the Paris Agreement, and a clear majority of people are convinced that climate change needs to be taken seriously. However, there is still some uncertainty – and outright denial – among policy makers and the public on different aspects of climate change. Even when met with concern, climate change competes with other concerns in individuals’ lives and is not necessarily considered in elections or making individual lifestyle choices. Also, some of the most important measures of decreasing personal greenhouse emission (e.g., decreasing meat consumption) are met with controversy and resistance. In this presentation, I will summarize and discuss research results that could explain the persistent delay in effective climate change mitigation.


Malcolm Fairbrother, Professor, Sociology
Why Don’t People Want to Save the Earth? 

One major reason for humanity's failure to address the crisis in planetary health is a lack of trust. People around the world are broadly convinced about environmental problems, including climate change. But they are sceptical of many public policies that could be employed to respond to those problems. Believing in policies requires confidence in political and administrative institutions, but many people possess little such confidence. For advocates of better policies for planetary health, this fact presents a dilemma: how to convey to the public that inadequate governance has led to a serious global ecological crisis, but we will have to trust in governance if we are to solve that crisis?