Artists and Climate Change

The Latest News on Climate Change: Not Good

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading international body for assessing climate change under the auspices of The United Nations, has just released its Fifth Assessment Report, entitled, Climate Change 2014, the most comprehensive analysis on the topic ever produced. Hundreds of scientists from all over the world contributed to the report, which identifies the impact of climate change in great detail, includes data on melting glaciers, rising sea levels, more frequent and more severe storms, warming temperatures, etc., and proposes significant interventions/mitigations for policymakers. Here are just a few of the highlighted statements included in the report:

In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans. Impacts are due to observed climate change, irrespective of its cause, indicating the sensitivity of natural and human systems to changing climate.

Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.

 The Future?

The Future?

 Artists and Climate Change

So what’s a person to do? While politicians debate, scientists produce reports and journalists describe the issues and potential solutions, there are some writers, visual artists, musicians and dancers who are using the power of the arts to call attention to the very real threats resulting from climate change. In the September, 2014 post, I highlighted the compelling work of Spanish installation and street artist, Isaac Cordal, whose tiny, white collar bureaucrats convene endlessly on the subject while they are literally being submerged in water.

Chantal Bilodeau is a playwright and translator originally from Montreal who is currently living and working in New York. She is the Artistic Director of The Arctic Cycle, an organization created to support the writing, development and production of eight plays that explore the impact of climate change on the eight countries of the Arctic. Ms. Bilodeau’s blog, entitled, Artists and Climate Change: contributions from the artistic community on the vexing problem of climate change, identifies scores of artists working in dance, design, film, installation, literature, music, painting, performance, photography, poetry, public art, sculpture, sound, textile and theater, who are using their voices to increase awareness and effect meaningful change.

One particularly compelling example of the work documented on Artists and Climate Change is cellist, Daniel Crawford’s composition, A Song of Our Warming PlanetUsing surface temperature data between 1880 and 2012 and assigning low or high notes according to the yearly recorded temperature, he has created a musical representation of climate change. Listen to the remarkable piece here.

 Daniel Crawford in a photo clip from "A Song For Our Warming Planet."

Daniel Crawford in a photo clip from “A Song For Our Warming Planet.”

Artists don’t generally sit in meetings that generate political change but, as Chantal Bilodeau puts it so eloquently in her blog on Artists and Climate Change,”what artists have to say about climate change will shape our values and behavior for years to come. For that reason alone, we should pay attention.”





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