Crucial Minutia
it's the little things...
Jennifer Gandin Le
Beauty in a Wicked World: The Sky is Falling?
7 Comments | posted April 04th, 2007 at 10:14 am by Jennifer Gandin Le

No doubt, the climate change picture is bleak. A new UN report out this week says that 20 to 30 percent of all life on the planet could be destroyed within decades. Millions could go hungry. Fresh water could vanish. Blah blah blah death destruction, etc.

I don’t mean to minimize how much this sucks. But if we think we’re screwed no matter what, why would we bother to act?

Buried at the bottom of the CBS article (of course) is the good news. In May, the UN will issue a third report with strategies for how we can slow global warming. James J. McCarthy, a Harvard oceanographer and author of a 2001 report on climate change, says, “…Many of these [projections] can be avoided.” Says the article:

He said he is optimistic the worst won’t happen “because we can’t be that stupid.”

I agree. My idealist self knows that there are many, many people who want to save the planet and the human race because they believe in its goodness and potential. And my cynical self knows that survival is a basic human instinct, and if the Earth threatens to wipe us out, we’re going to do what we have to to save ourselves. Even if it means giving up fossil fuels.

I leave you with a glimpse of Argentina’s “Biennial at the End of the World”, an art event happening in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, on the island of Tierra del Fuego. The month-long exhibit highlights the damage being done by global warming, using art as a protest and call to action. The photo below shows Joaquin Fargas’s piece “Sunflower: Sentinel for Climate Change,” one of the more functional pieces (its petals are solar-paneled, and it tracks the temperature and weather changes with thermometers and cameras).

Joaquin Fargas, with his Sunflower
photo credit: REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

Even in the face of extreme devastation on our planet, humans still create art — to inspire, to inform, to witness. I find this beautiful.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 at 10:14 am and is filed under In The News, Science & Technology, Art, Environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 7 responses

  1. J Sprad

    I agree. And nature echoes this. Ever see the pictures of the utter devastation after the Mount St Helen’s eruption? Environmentalists prophesied it would take generations for ecological regeneration. Scientists are now surprised at how rapidly the ecosystems are recovering. We should all be concerned about impacting our world positively, but I will gladly leave pessimism to the Eeyores.

    (And ya gotta love the irony of the latest Senate hearing on global warming in DC that was postponed because of an unseasonal snow storm!)

    April 4th, 2007 | 1:00 pm
  2. That is beautiful.

    April 4th, 2007 | 1:02 pm
  3. Sorry, I find this depressing. We’re faced with the end of life on the Earth as we know it, and someone’s response is an art exhibit? I get that they’re calling it a “protest” and a “call to action,” but really, it’s an art exhibit. If people really care about this issue, we should see more action, less hemp necklace-wringing.

    April 4th, 2007 | 1:14 pm
  4. Kate Torgovnick

    Please let us not be that stupid (what an amazing quote). Anyone see this week’s New York Magazine? There’s a piece about farming in green skyscrapers. I’m now convinced that it could save the world.

    April 4th, 2007 | 11:17 pm
  5. Ethan, raising awareness is direct action. I don’t think you can fault someone for not ‘really caring’ when they use the tools that they have (in this case, art) to raise awareness around an issue.

    In public health - and I would submit that this is a public health issue, there are many steps to achieving a goal. One of those steps is raising awareness, another is increasing capacity. They must happen simultaneously in order to make an impact.

    In other words, if you do lots of good work, but nobody knows about it, it’s less effective as helping the public to understand the importance of the work while you implement action steps.

    Scientists have been saying this for years. They also say lots of other things that would help make the world a better, more livable place. But scientists aren’t in the business of social marketing. Artists are, and should be creating projects such as this one.

    Scientists and Artists, and government and advocates all working together - it’s not only possible, but it’s crucial (minutiae).

    April 5th, 2007 | 11:39 am
  6. Chris, I see your point, but I feel like an art exhibit about global warming is preaching to the choir. My guess is that the sort of people who will be effected by a modern art exhibit are already “aware” of global warming.

    April 5th, 2007 | 5:07 pm
  7. Hm…a good point and normally I’d agree with you. Preaching to the choir is one of my major beefs with movements and non-profit organizations, etc…

    But I think that in this case it’s an outdoor installation, for the public. This tactic has been found to be very useful by other organizations

    April 6th, 2007 | 2:28 pm

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