Climate change and social transformations: is it time for a quantum leap?
Karen O'Brien draws attention to the emerging field of quantum social theory and consider its implications for climate change responses.
Climate change is recognized as an urgent societal problem with widespread implications for both natural and human systems, and transforming society at the rate and scale that is mandated by the 2015 Paris Agreement remains a major challenge. Do we need to be open to new paradigms for social change? In this opinion piece, I draw attention to the emerging field of quantum social theory and consider its implications for climate change responses. Quantum social theory considers how concepts, methods and understandings from quantum physics relate to societal issues, and it provides a physically based, holistic perspective on conscious and intentional transformations to sustainability. It is distinct from other social theories in that it raises deep metaphysical and ontological questions about what is really real. I explore the methodological, metaphorical and meaningful significance of quantum social theory for understandings of social change. Quantum concepts such as entanglement, complementarity, uncertainty, and superposition provide a strong basis for recognizing and promoting people as the solution to climate change.