Category Archives: Climate Change

Heartlands, aim and reach …

What have Greenpeace and John Wolseley got in common? They’re both hanging around Fed Square in Melbourne, inside and out, trying to communicate their love of nature. Why?

Do they succeed? Can you share this love or just walk right past?

In their latest campaign, Greenpeace fight to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Last Thursday half a dozen young activists learned basic circus skills and swung themselves over the wall outside at Federation Square to dance/swim in projected animations to a jazzy whale sound track. They encouraged us to end the age of coal and ‘Take another look.’
Greenpeace-Reef-01

It was sold as a ‘spectacular’ and Greenpeace fans were encouraged to book tickets. Spectacular in comparison to what? A basic banner unfurling? Or Legs on the Wall? Not fair? How many people did Greenpeace want at this event? There may have been a hundred and fifty – including innocent bystanders – entertained and encouraged by Rod Quantock. Is that enough to Save the Reef?

Half the reef has died in the last thirty years.

What can Greenpeace, anyone, do to Save the Reef? How can activists grab attention and create action? You could look at some pictures online? Are you moved? Will you act?

In contrast you could wander inside to the NGV at Fed Square and check out Heartlands and Headwaters. This show is supposedly laid out in the shape of a tree, with big works on the walls surrounding the trunk. Well, it’s a nice attempt but there’s no getting away from the white box and clean lines of an urban modern art gallery. (Next time think Herring Island or Heide, perhaps?)

The most dramatic piece for me was ‘Dystopia – the last wetland Gwydir 2184’. In this work, Wolseley attempts to show cotton farms engulfing nature. Dystopeia-01

You can see the dead pelican print (lower right) more closely below.

pelican-print

You can see Wolseley making this work here. And here are the cotton farms:cotton farms

He is trying to get inside nature, show his connections, his own nature. Inside the rythyms and tensions, the cycles and evolution. He is certainly ambitious. The works around the walls are extensive, like this ‘From the edge of the great floodplain Garrangari and Garrangali’ in the Northern Territory.

floodplain

Inside this luminous paper work are smaller collaged worksfloodplain-detail-02

bringing such detail and evoking such life and depth that the piece seems to breathe.

floodplain detail 01

Floodplain took three years to make. In the words on the wall Mr Wolesley describes learning from an elder, also artist, about the use of some of the plants and mentions ‘deep time’ as compared to shallow time where humans are present.

heron-power-station

In ‘Natural History of Swamps III’, a heron examines CO2 at Loy Yang Power Station. Wolesley makes no demands on his audience. We are not expected to sign a petition. We are invited to wonder and perhaps to wander as in ‘Simpson Desert Sandunes moving across the Finke River’ in South Australia. Simpson-desert

You can see the smaller more detailed collages inviting closer examination.audienceHere you get a sense of the attempted tree down the middle of the space.

dancing-paper

These are examples of the paper he rescued from the burnt mallee – some he’d left there for months, one is even marked by roots after a burial. These papers are bent and stiffened by the elements and marked by the charcoal fingers of the scrub. Some are trapped in perspex boxes and turned into precious objects by their presentation. Others, like these, fly loose across the walls like china ducks. Am I influenced by his art? His skill? His humanity? Does his love for Nature get beyond the paper?

If we know not Nature, then how can we protect it? 
Thoreau

If we only see Nature writ large on the wall of a gallery, then how can we love it? Can our love be enough to save Nature?

How can we be moved to change?

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/aEnfy9qfdaU?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

Precious … my precious …

‘You will take good care of it, won’t you? Water is a precious resource.’

So says a six-year-old child, striking at the very heart of an artist. The child is a participant in The Catchments Project, an artwork by Debbie Symons and Jasmine Targett. I met Jasmine at the City of Melbourne’s Carlton Connect Initiative (CCI) LAB-14 and she was able to talk me through the mysterious collection on view. As with the previous Art+Climate=Change 2015 exhibtions I’ve visited, there is much to ponder beneath the surface of the artefacts shown.

With only a week of events left in Art+Climate=Change 2015 you will still find things to see here. I’ve been inspired by public talks, particularly William L. Fox Director Art+Environment Nevada Museum of Art, USA, (or Bill) and seen some fantastic art.

Four of the exhibitions can be discovered in and around Melbourne University and what a very pleasant afternoon’s stroll they make. I hopped off the tram outside the Ian Potter Museum of Art and strode immediately up to the 2nd floor to see Nature/Revelation. The first thing you see as you enter the space is a large whale taking up the entire wall. Oh, yeah. Big picture.

picture of a whale

Gallery attendant and my bag in front of a quite big picture of a whale

Moving on.

You admire the pictures of clouds floating in rooms (not the clouds themselves) by Berndnaut Smilde,

picture of a floating cloud

Nimbus D’Aspremont, 2012

Terraforms by Jamie North,

Not a rolling stone

Not a rolling stone

and the Ansel Adams photos (one of those iconic people who changed the lens through which Americans viewed their environment),

“Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and wonder surrounding him.”  ― Ansel Adams

“Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and wonder surrounding him.”
― Ansel Adams

… and it’s only when you get a bit closer that you realise …

Good Grief! Hang on! Wait Up! What is it with the sperm whale?

That’s a charcoal drawing. By Jonathan Delafield Cook  This thing is HUGE. While there are certainly other provoking works (check the little man climbing a cliff) in the exhibition you really do need to see the WHALE!

I then wandered into the nearby Melbourne School of Design (a large net suspended around a library to trap humans). There you can find amazing videos by David Buckland in an exhibition called Discounting the Future.

picture of ice fiel

The very moment when the ice falls into the sea

Then seek out the ideas of the extremely provoking Amy Balkin in a small gallery directly opposite and sign a postcard to assist her attempt in protecting the air by getting our atmosphere listed by the UN World Heritage Convention.

Letter to UN World Heritage

Public smog will save the world

Balkin’s had a lot of scientific and legal assistance in drawing up this document and, tell you what, we all really want her to succeed.

Finally, meander down Swanston Street to LAB-14 to see Making Water Visible, a portrait of Melbourne’s water system. The sea and bay are rendered shiny mirror. The rivers, reservoirs and underwater table water are depicted in gorgeous colour shifting perspex. Amazingly this is the first time all this data has been brought together in one image. It just takes art to make sense of our world.

Another part of The Catchments Project is Getting Busy, a potential oyster farm to be planted around the docklands area.

This 3D printed oyster is not busy at all, as Jasmine  reflects

This 3D printed oyster is not busy at all, as Jasmine reflects

The native Angasi species of oyster is able to clean heavy metals and nitrates out of water without harming itself. When the oyster farm is established, the public can download an app to enable them to pledge some kind of assistance (pick up your dog poo, use gentle cleaners) to improve Melbourne’s water systems. Once a pledge is made, Barry White will be played to the oysters to encourage them to ‘get busy’ and clean the water. Art.

Ooooooh, yeeaaaayer …

Jasmine tells me that Melbourne City Council and Melbourne University had the foresight to connect artists to scientists and researchers thereby bringing data and creativity together. And Barry White.

Is yours there?

Is yours there?

The mirror bay reflects hundreds of engraved bottles – water collected and donated by well-meaning individuals. The bottles, The Water Harvest, are engraved with name, date and collection co-ordinates and are given to the donor at the end of the project. I met a woman who had come to see her donations in situ – water from her raintank and some grubby brown stuff from the horse’s dam. Delicious. And of course, our friend the six year old who collected rain water in a bucket and slept with the plastic bottle next to her bed because she really really cares. Jasmine was able to reassure her that yes, she really would look after her water.

Can we be sure that our politicians will?

Perceptive Power perceived

http://climarte.org/

http://climarte.org/

One of the twenty-five exhibitions currently showing in Melbourne under the umbrella of the Climarte Festival is Perceptive Power.signThe RMIT Design Hub in the centre of Melbourne’s CBD doesn’t look like it should suffer from too many doors (it certainly has too many corridors) but there you go – Perceptive Power has more than one entrance and it is possible to enter the exhibition the back way.

outside of Design Hub

http://www.watpac.com.au/project/rmit-design-hub/

Is there a right way to see this exhibition? Doesn’t matter. I am confident in predicting whichever way you enter, you will find yourself intrigued, engaged and I’m guessing, muttering a little ‘wow’ to yourself (more than once) as you negotiate the Hub’s corridors.

There are no paintings in this exhibition. This is a modern exhibition with modern media dealing with a modern problem. This is also a reading exhibition. Many of the pieces on view are fascinating, bewitching and somewhat bewildering. Watching flashing fluro tubes on a hill suddenly becomes chilling when you read the things are lighting up because of loose power surrounding power pylons. halo2

 

The artists are using scavenged power. They’re not even plugged in. Wow.halo-sign

This is one of the reading stations. You need to absorb the words before the video showing patterns of flashing tubes – which become very bright – make sense. Clearly a lot of thought and effort has gone into making these objets d’art signal stops so best admire them as you gather information.
toy-sign

This one explains the video of a toy car driving though the streets.toy-car

The video encourages the viewer to focus on a very small daring car emitting plumes of different coloured smoke tearing wildly through busy traffic. The video keeps the original sound (presumably) which includes gasps of recognition and laughter from passing cyclists.

continuum

Continuum Parts One and Two blends dancers and renewable energy in mesmerizing performance. One of my ‘wow’ moments came as I read about Continuum Part Two, based at the Carwarp Solar Facility, northwest of Mildura. This piece was filmed 2013/4 but when they returned in 2015, the film crew found the 40 solar dishes shrouded with black covers. The government refused to back the project further and the company has turned its attention to projects overseas. Wow.

In EurEco, Ash Keating turns the Eureka Flag green – which is taking serious liberties – but with governments like Australia’s – what is one to do?

“The issue of climate change needs persuasion rather than propaganda and art understands the psychology of persuasion.” Jay Griffiths, writer

This is a quote from the chalkboard in the middle of the exhibition space marks Carbon Arts in Residence. A place for conversation and encounters, this is an oasis where magazines, short films and salon discussions tempt the visitor. As much as I admire Jay Griffiths, I despair sometimes, I really do. Is saving the planet really a job for artists?

Get along and see Perceptive Power. It will make you think. You will admire corridors. You will see (and read about) a Natural State, made in the service of hydro-electric projects. So what is nature, where is wilderness?

natural

label-natural

Perceptive Power is provocative. And it’s just one exhibition of many.

Why, just across the road RMIT’s gallery is showing Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla, another beautiful and evocative collection.

Map of Japan surrounded by sand. Raked concentric circles radiate from Fukushima

Absorption Ripple by Yutaka Kobayashi

You’ll want to pick up a Climarte brochure and explore some of the other showings, forums and events on around Melbourne. Get some ‘wow’ in your life.

Cli-Fi at the Wheelers Centre last night – that’s right Climate Change Fiction. Cli-Fi.

Covers of Wrong Turn, Clade & Anchor PointTony Birch, writer and academic, introduced three novelists in a discussion entitled:

New Dystopias: Climate Change & Fiction

A full house of well-behaved Melbournians tucked into the Wheeler’s Centre welcomed Jane Rawson, author of A wrong turn at the office of unmade lists, Alice Robinson, author of Anchor Point and James Bradley, author of Clade.

Mr Birch remarked that all three novels were about the interactions between people, whatever the circumstances in their lives and added all the books displayed great storytelling featuring strong and engaging characters. The audience was amused by Mr Birch’s comments regarding surprises in Clade such as Bruce Springsteen’s apparent prescience with titles such as Thunder Road and Darkness on the edge of town and; the Australian Rules football team ‘Carltonwood’ resulting from a blend of two currently strong clubs. Thus warmed up, Birch commented asked the writers if it matters, what writers write about? Does their work make an impact? Did they expect or want their work to affect readers?

Jane began A wrong turn by just wanting to write a story but by the edit stage she really did want to make readers think about climate. She’s learned that as a result of her book, people do experience concerns when the days are getting hotter.

Alice began from the issue and had to construct story and characters to fit the cause. Essentially her book became a family story as climate is a family issue.

James stated the bar was too high for writers to imagine they could change the world. Perhaps the opening chapters of Silent Spring or Neuromancer might have succeeded but there are not many books that actually altered the way people thought. Climate change happens on such a scale that people might be able to engage intellectually but not meaningfully. He feels that writers are more like weather vanes, picking up on what is around them rather than making real change.

Tony thought these writers might be underestimating their knock-on effect and they should be pleased as they don’t know what effect their books might have. He went on to ask about time. The books are about people, memory functions and time. He pointed out each writer is interested in how we remember.

Alice spoke about her driving concerns. To think about the future means we must think about how we got here. To look back into the past means the story of settlement and the history of the land before Europeans. What are we going to do now? How do we live now?

Anchor-pt-title-page

James felt remarkable connections with Anchor Point. There were similar motifs – particularly around time – in Clade. Jane has a time traveller called Ray in A wrong turn, who happens to be Aboriginal. Tony congratulated her on this creation and also commented on her theme of homelessness and compared an essay he had written about the subject.

James drew heavily on science for Clade. As he began to write scientists were warning about the dangers of methane burps in the frozen tundra. As he edited, the craters came to public attention. As he wrote, he invented an idea about the planet’s shifting axis which, of course, has now become observable. All the writers agreed that it was indeed unsettling to see their writing bed down in actual events. But that is the nature of climate change. Scientists predict and then we see their predictions come true.

It was when Tony Birch commented about our relationship to nature I began to really feel part of this community! He asked the writers how they conceived of nature? James remarks the power of nature can’t be denied. In his book, in the north of England around Norfolk, the Fens were created to keep the ocean at bay. Now ‘the sea is returning’. The sea will not be denied. Laura, in Alice’s book, wants the land to return to what it was. Alice believes we must succumb to nature.

James says he didn’t want the land to mirror people’s traumas. He wanted to create a book saying on some level that the planet doesn’t care. He wanted to get away from the common anthropocentric view of the world. He commented that the line between the virtual and the real is becoming less clear. The same technology that can pry into nests and follow birds on migration, showing the world’s amazing natural life, can do nothing to stem the force causing the extinction of those very creatures.

Clade-title-page

Alice remarks the books all have positive points; James’s landscape is beautiful and Jane’s book is funny. Jane said that we are born into the world we’re born into. People in the future will have to deal with what lies in front of them. Alice said that people’s lives are so busy with their everyday children and dishes that trying to deal with the big issues while real life is so involving. Tony highlighted a quote from Clade that ‘normality keeps fighting its way in’. James felt that was more about grief than the everyday life lived facing climate change but he believes that people are smart, that we will not turn this planet into Venus. Of course he recognises there are massively entrenched interests protecting their power and money. He believes we are having the wrong conversations. It’s not about whether politicians believe in climate change but whether we can recognise who is being used as a shill for powerful corporations.

Jane commented that learning about the terrors of climate change can incapacitate a person but not acting … is just STUPID.

Wrong-turn-title-page

Alice really cares about climate change – it took her seven years to write the book plus have two babies. On the one hand things she felt things going terribly wrong with the planet and on the other she made an enormous investment in the future by having children. That’s galvanizing for her – she had to do something.

James also wrote his book because he’s got small children and he noted that most people are now alienated from the decision-making process. Australia is no longer run for the benefit of the many, particularly obvious after the debacle of the mining tax.

Tony wrapped up the discussion by bringing it back to the writers’ power to energise activists. He thinks they can nudge the reader and produce ideas that Tony, for one, can recycle out into the world.

The first question from the audience was about books around a dystopian future implying a moral judgement on those that came before. Jane said after the discovery that the majority of emissions causing climate change came in her own lifetime she can only blame herself. Alice agreed the blame can only be placed in the present. She thinks of what the children will have to carry into the future. James thinks the world is always ending for writers. Apocalyptic fiction is a way to wrestle with big ideas such as nuclear war in the eighties and terrorism ten years ago. Dystopian fiction tries to make great concerns and worries manageable. He added that worrying about morality makes him itchy.

The next question was about artists’ obligation to take climate change seriously. Jane agreed that for her climate change was the most compelling issue for nature and other species. She can understand that others have different priorities but says that writers shouldn’t cut themselves out of the world of politics. Alice is deeply ambivalent. She wishes she didn’t have to care about climate change but once engaged she feels a responsiblity to try to show that each individual and their children will be affected. James thinks that writing is a political act but is wary of saying to any writer, you should write about this or that. He doesn’t think artists have a political obligation.

The final question was about books like 1984 and Brave New World, what effect can they have? James says that fiction is a way of thinking about things in an incredibly powerful way. Alice says she knows books can change lives; for her Little Women and Anne of Green Gables showed her that it was possible to make a living out of writing. Jane thinks that those books that make us alert to those kinds of futures, showing us the signposts, act as a warning; ‘Oh, no, don’t do that, that leads to dystopia and rats on your face.’ But then, possibly, we don’t recognise other, newer threats …

Tony wrapped up proceedings by admiring the humility of these three writers. As far as Mr Birch is concerned they will all influence his thinking about climate change.

Clade-lined

 

You’ll be interested to see James Bradley signed his book twice. The first time, emulated by Jane Rawson, he calls the American way. Lined and signed. When asked why he crossed out his name, he did not know. So that’s why he signed again in the clear space of the title page.

It was the first time I’ve really been inspired by a group of writers. They were on my wavelength! I wish them great success and hope they do manage to nudge a few readers as Mr Birch suggested.

They could even take the time to read my book, Man of Clay, and see the themes of time, change and heat repeated therein!

Simran Sethi – For the love of coffee!!

Simran Sethi

Simran Sethi (image from the Asia Society blog page)

Simran Sethi, Environmental Messenger, is part of the barrage of the Wheeler Centre‘s 2015 questions to Melbourne. She gives a talk entitled ‘Endangered Pleasures; the slow loss of food we love’ on March the first. Simran is a petite woman with shining black hair that swings around her like a mobile halo. Her generous smile is a brilliant white. She gestures with her hands, moulding meaning into the air in front of her, giving, exuding, impressing influence into her audience.

cup of coffee

image taken from Bings Boba Tea site

The focus of her speech, as best suits cafe-cultured Melbourne, is coffee. A few years ago, on a research trip to Rome, she was side tracked by a novel concept (to her). She’d been writing a book about seeds when she discovered scientists were actually concerned with teetering bioagrodiversity. Remember the beginning of that very scientific film Interstellar? Where that geeky science boffin, Michael Caine, points out the blighted corn? Not so fictional after all.

It seems many of our staple food crops are at risk of extinction. Wheat. Cows. Chocolate. And coffee. (Simran didn’t mention bees.) Of course we know the threats. Loss of habitat, pollution, climate change, disease …

Only 30% of all species are used by humans. Basically we don’t care what happens to stuff we can’t eat, drink or wear. If it doesn’t act like a pest, we ignore it. If it’s a crop we choose the best of the best, breed it up and maybe add some spicy cells to a test tube to improve it further. Then we only farm that one species. All across the world. The same species of banana. And when that one species falls prey to one disease? All gone.

farmer in banana farm

(image from http://agrobiodiversityplatform.org/)

Where the scientists see genetic erosion Simran sees cultural erosion. She became animated as she described her fantastic global research project to understand the web of coffee making. To seek the hands that make the coffee.

farmer's hands with coffee berries

(image taken from http://blog.yellow-seed.org/65/)

From the calloused farmer to the tattooed barista, it is the sweat and toil of humans that intrigues Simran. Her coffee guru comes from Seven Seeds, a Melbourne coffee roasting cafe, educator and specialist. His coaching leads her to understand the taste of coffee for the first time. Now more than just wet brown stuff, along with flavours of lemon and hints of peach, she can discern the soil and the weather of Ethopia, or Columbia perhaps. The flavour of her coffee is mixed with farmers’ sweat and the swirl of dryers’ rakes. There’s packers, drivers, container loaders, ship crew, unloaders, more drivers, roasters, grinders, and the hiss of steam at the end. All endangered.

Simran pointed out that scientists use a combination of strategies to save plant species from extinction. There’s ex-situ conservation such as seed banks (struggling for funding in the main). There’s in-situ conservation such as leaving the plant to grow in the wild or at a farm. And there’s in-vivo conservation where humans eat it, drink it and keep it alive because humans like it. Love it.

l love coffee picked out in coffee beans

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/coffee/images/34484500/title/coffee-photo

If we all learn more about our foodstuff, Simran says, we will give thanks. She believes we can save our favourite plants by our very dependence. If we consider our coffee, we will save our coffee. Her reply to the question about an individual’s ability to affect the food chain was that we should all be kind, learn the provinance of our produce and revalue what is important. If only that was all it took, Simran.

The final question about population caused her to bridle a little. As an Indian she did not think that millions of brown people in subsistence living standards damaged the planet as much as the millions of fat people living in America, consuming fossil fuels as though they are going out of style. (Which they are.) According to Simran, consumption, not population, is the real problem.

frantic shoppers

Black Friday Sales Frenzy (image from Business Insider Australia site)

Simran is an extremely highly regarded academic, journalist and eco-activist. She is working hard to activate the audience’s ‘green brain’, the part of our brains that imagines the future, that might act to save our planet if it cares about something. I’m sure her book about Bread, Wine and Chocolate (due Nov 2015) will be very well received and completely ineffective. People in the Fair Trade and Slow Food movements have been saying these things, DOING these things, for decades. In my own files I have a report dated 1986 by the World Wildlife Foundation called The Wild Supermarket: the importance of biological diversity to food security.

I can’t believe that anything Simran can add, (even if she is The Environmental Messenger and an expert on engagement) will cause millions of people to stop buying cheap food from Woolies and rush to their nearest farmer’s market. I fear those under the verdant green plastic globule that is RMIT’s entrance to Storey Hall Lecture Theatre on Sunday are already converted.

If only Simran wasn’t busy flying all over the world taking photos of hands with her great big carbon footprint. Just because it’s self-confessed doesn’t make it right. Many activists now use Skype to deliver just such communications. (People such as Professor Mary Wood, the lawyer fighting for Nature’s rights.)

Simran’s pat reply to the inevitable population question stems from her heritage and from her heart, I fear, rather than her head. Any parent, anywhere on this beleaguered planet, will raise up their children as high as they can. It is in our genes. If they are in a tent in Somalia, a slum in Mumbai or the Dakota building overlooking Central Park, that parent will try to ensure their child can afford a fridge and a car and a mortgage. And a nice secure share portfolio with an eye to growth. Consumption is of course part of the problem. Human’s need to improve their lot drives it. Human greed drives the use of fossil fuels, habitat loss, climate change …

And, as no there is no effective action to slow any of it, then the species of greatest risk of disappearing is not coffee, or bananas or wheat.

It’s humans.

And you’d think people would care enough about them, wouldn’t you.

Click here to go to WWF’s footprint calculator so you can see how many planets your lifestyle is using up!

Link

The woman who warns us about propaganda in zoos – hilarious or scary?

How did they work all this out woman!

Incredulous woman can’t understand how theories of science appear on printed signs!

Go to the zoo with creationist Megan Fox and learn that zoos are failing in their duty towards humans. She loves the animals, why, she even got married in the zoo, but the notion of humans being apes is just hilarious. She reads ecologically informative signs in the various enclosures in an outraged tone – ‘Oh, humans are baaad!’ Megan thinks children should be entertained and informed about the eating habits of all the marvellous animals instead of learning critical information about destruction of habitat and loss of species. Megan says not all humans are bad. Hunters, for example, give all sorts of money to protect animals. Hunters conserve. Like in Zambimbia. (SIC) Hunters feed hungry people. The EPA buys weapons and donuts. They don’t clean up streams. It’s all political nonsense.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/06/brookfield-zoo-science-mom-audit_n_6271800.html

You really want more? Here is her incredulous visit to the American National History Museum with commentary from someone who actually thinks. Thank you, AnswersInEddas.

It’s a fairy tale. She’s just making it all up!!

My only comfort is when her children become teenagers they will revolt and start learning just to spite her. Oh, I cannot wait.

Megan Fox doesn’t want a relationship with nature. She is unnatural.

Another ‘be the change you want to be in the world’ video

This video even includes masks and puppets. The call for a spiritual revolution seems such an incredible ambition I wonder how any of the featured thinkers can seriously proceed with their work. Still, we must do anything and everything we can to encourage people to think. If one person sees this and decides to change their life in the smallest way, then that’s got to be a good thing. We proceed. Throw another star fish.

Link

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report – It’s happening

I’m sorry but isn’t the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

which begins by saying

“Human interference with the climate system is occurring, and climate change poses risks for human and natural systems”

important? Urgent? Shouldn’t Australia do something about it now?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott quotes from My Country:

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.

Dorothea Mackellar started writing My Country in 1904. Climate change not an issue then, Prime Minister.

Now?

What’s the worst that could happen? Remember that physics teacher? The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See? He’s still going strong.

Lord Deben is the chairman of the UK Committee on Climate Change, the government’s statutory adviser. He is a former environment secretary and Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal. He writes in the The Guardian reports that the government should committ to halving its emmissions at 1990 levels before 2027.

Australia is aiming for between 5 and 20 percent.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry says costs of inaction on climate change will be “catastrophic”.

George Monbiot finds an allegory in Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People where Dr Stockman must lash out angrily at those who do not believe him, like Cassandra.

And in Australia there’s a gentle, chatty piece in The Age, enquiring about the level of risk we’re happy to live with.

I wish I could roar like a lion.

When does Australia stop digging up coal and start building a new, clean renewable energy industry? Beyond Zero Emissions has a plan ready to go right now. What are we waiting for?

You’ve been wondering what the Blue Man Group think of Global Warming, haven’t you?

I’m roaring like a lady. As much as I can.

Art Climate Ethics – What role for the arts?

Found plastics on Robe beach altered by Victoria Osborne and Philip Millar

I wove these different coloured ropes into this handbag shape as a container for plastic items we found on Robe beach in South Australia.

“Art, nature and I became vital and inseparable companions.” GUY ABRAHAMS: AN ART DEALER’S EPIPHANY

I’ve been working on an adult literary novel called Man of clay for fifteen years. I’m hoping to put it up on this website shortly. In the book a character called Willliam wonders whether to take over his mother’s art gallery, just like Guy did. In the above mentioned article, Guy, the CEO of Climarte, speaks eloquently about art and nature and recommends we go to a discussion called Art Climate Ethics: What role for the arts? So we did.

Found plastics arranged as if stuffed into a toy bird

Plastics found on Robe beach – an homage to Chris Jordan by Philip Millar and Victoria Osborne

And what a wonderful discussion it was. Not only did we get to see Fiona Hall, Mandy Martin, Damon Young and Peter Cristoff but also Chris Jordan.

Damon Young is a philosopher and writer who set his discussion, or provocation, about the Anthropocene Age in a sea of jellyfish.

Mandy Martin is an artist, a painter, who has decided to go for her activism. She doesn’t care if there’s negative consequences. She’s too busy getting her message out in delicious landscapes, colours and textures. She showed us some of her work painted around powerstations and mines. One was called Vivitur Ex Rapto, or Man lives off greed. She told us we are all implicated because of our need for resources.

Peter Christoff is an academic. His most recent book is Four Degrees of Global Warming: Australia in a hot world. He believes the public knows about climate change. He thinks they have had the information but they are angered or frustrated or made helpless by the knowledge of impending doom. Generally, he said, they think someone else will look after the problems some other time. He thinks we have an ‘imagination deficit’. I totally agree with this notion. I think most Australians cannot imagine anything much further in the future than the next footy season. Is that just human nature?

Fiona Hall is an eloquent artist but her speech was marred by her use of arrrr and ummmms … Her work is brilliant.

Chris Jordan is the man behind the shocking images of plastic-stuffed albatross. He’s also made a film about Midway, the island of the albatross, here’s the trailer for Midway. He spoke about the need for a shift in consciousness. Humans must become more radical, as in the word origin from ‘root’. We must go back to our roots. He talked about how our society has placed our thinking in the amygdalla – the place of fear – the lizard part of our brain. Everything humans, particularly the West, seems to do comes from reacting to fear. Like America, rushing off to war for no apparent reason. He believes art has the ability to take thinking out of fear and put it in the limbic part of the brain or our feelings. We need to feel anger and grief because of the loss of our charismatic fauna – ‘artworks of God’ – the sacred miracles of our world. We need to acknowledge our collective sadness, move through the grief and become activists.

Here’s a link to his TED talk which focuses on his Running the numbers work.

Whale tale of plastic spade handle

We took several bags of plastic bits and nylon rope away from this beach holiday.