Climate Change

The Arts and climate change: an unlikely partnership?

Climate change is a hot topic of conversation within the scientific world. Shocking headlines attempt to inform the world just how serious the issue is. There is a seemingly ever narrowing window of how much time we have to act. However for many of us, knowing how to act is not obvious. The changes seem so drastic, everything is doom and gloom; it is often overwhelming knowing where to begin. For a lot of people, they find it hard to relate to this upcoming issue. There is no everyday pressuring reminder upon them (apart from the odd freak weather spell). The topic of climate change is never overly engaging, often overwhelming and for some people the phrase ‘climate change’ turns their attention right off.

The arts could just be the solution to this! Although not something which springs to mind when contemplating the scientific terms of climate change, they can play a very key role. A recent talk I attended by ‘Young People In the Arts’ (ypia), highlighted the importance of art to spread awareness and combat the issue of climate change. The purpose of art is to provoke a response from people, stir up their emotions. Could this make the concept of climate change more relatable to our everyday lives? Shocking us into realising the due effects which will happen should we all blindly continue on.

An example of such is the recent, ‘Ice Watch’ exhibition which I visited outside the Tate Modern, London.

Ice Watch, Olafur Eliasson and Minik Rosing

An exhibition designed to raise the awareness of climate change, through art form. Experiencing the effects right here in the heart of London. Melting ice caps is a common phrase associated with climate change, yet here was an opportunity to experience this phrase first hand. Relate it to the reality. The 24 large blocks of ice, which broke off the Greenland ice sheet were transported to to their final resting point outside the Tate. There they would melt into the muggy water of the Thames at a shocking rate.

“Every second 10,000 blocks like these melt away all the time in Greenland”

Olafur Eliasson

Whilst these ice blocks melted, thousands of visitors came, took photos, shared on social media and engaged physically with what otherwise is a seemingly distant concept. The atmosphere surrounding the exhibition was one of deep thought, accompanied with eerie popping noises from the ice blocks as they melted. This was caused by air bubbles within the ice blocks being released, air bubbles whose atmospheric composition would be very different to that of todays. These 50,000 – 100,000 year old blocks of ice were melting in plain sight, before the Londoners who otherwise would not experience them.

“50,000 years melting away in a week”

Olafur Eliasson

Publicised through the main press, media and social media, this was aimed to be an eye opener to the very real environmental issues today. An attempt to bring the concept of climate change closer to our reality. (NB Just in case you’re wondering the carbon used to transport these ice blocks was offset through planting trees throughout London.)

Collaboration between all sectors is key in tackling this world wide issue. Big, striking actions will grab media and eventually the worlds attention. There is a need for these actions to be more loud, humorous and eye catching. More relatable. Climate change is an every day issue which is not obviously tangible around us. However, it will affect the air we breathe, the food we eat, the world we live in. The arts could just be the solution to spreading awareness of this throughout the globe.

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