Accidental Gods podcast

Proudly Mad: exploring mental health and the climate emergency with Charlie Hertzog Young

Rewind 15 seconds
Fast Forward 15 seconds

How did one man make the shift from Not wanting to live in this world, to refusing to live in this world?

If you've listened to this podcast for any length of time, you'll know that I did the Masters in Regenerative Economics at Schumacher college in 2016-17.  It was a genuinely life changing experience not least because I met some of the most inspiring people I could imagine - young, motivated and incredibly bright. And of them all, Charlie was the brightest. Even before we met, he'd studied economics at Harvard and SOAS which for those of you not in academia, are both hardcore and supremely activist. And while doing the MA, he was acting as researcher for one of our best known non-fiction journalists and writers. What I didn't know was that he was already an award-winning activist who, over the course of his career has worked for the New Economics Foundation, the Royal Society of Arts, the Good Law Project, the Four Day Week Campaign and the Centre for Progressive Change, as well as the UK Labour Party under three consecutive leaders. 

Charlie has spoken at the LSE, the UN and the World Economic Forum and written for The Ecologist, The Independent, Novara Media, Open Democracy and The Guardian.

I should have guessed most of that. What I perhaps also ought to have understood better was that he was bipolar - he now says of himself that he's proudly mad which I love - and how deeply it influenced who he was and what he did. So when he contacted me a while ago with news that he'd written a book, I wasn't remotely surprised. What was slightly surprising was that he is now a double amputee, and that his book is written about the interface between mental health, the climate emergency and what we now call eco-anxiety but which I think needs a rather stronger name than that implies. But definitely, this is something I wanted to talk about on the podcast - the edges to which our awareness of this time brings us, the frustration that arises out of living in a culture that still, broadly, gaslights all of us and does its best to rob us of the power to bring about change. Note that I don't think it's succeeding, and Charlie's book is a testament to the not-succeeding of the dominant culture, to the resilience of people around the world who are living with the reality of the climate, ecological and societal crisis and are forging paths through the chaos. Spinning Out: Climate Change, Mental Health and Fighting for a Better Future is an extraordinary book. It approaches head on the things we often turn away from, and we did this too, in the podcast - so this is a potential trigger warning. We do discuss Charlie's suicide attempt and how he ended up with two prosthetic legs, so if this is going to be hard for you, please tap into whatever are your resources before you listen. And then sit back and enjoy, because Charlie's brought his astonishing capacity for humanity, deep thought, and huge emotional intelligence to this and I loved it.

Charlie's website
Charlie on Linked In
Charlie's book, Spinning Out
Charlie at Hay on Wye

More episodes from "Accidental Gods"