Climate Crisis

Cultures of Sustainability in the Age of Climate Crisis

This post comes to you from Cultura21

Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Telemark University College

Bø, May 13.-15. (Tue-Thu), 2014 

The aim of the COST Action IS1007 meeting is to provide new perspectives and practical examples of the transformative role of culture for a sustainable future. The symposium will investigate the many ways of integrating perspectives on cultural change, social learning, experience-based training, innovation and creativity to grasp the role of culture in sustainable development, working with a dynamic concept of culture (culture as process and communication). Today, climate change and climate crisis roams high on the international agenda. At the same time, financial and economic crisis in many parts of Europe may overshadow the climate crisis. How to reconcile, and what role may art and culture represent in this respect?

Dr. Sacha Kagan, of Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany, who is on the board of Cultura21 Germany and active on the international level of C21, is also invited to speak.

Find out more about the program.

The meeting is organized by the Department of Culture and Humanities, Telemark University College.

Fee: 110 € covering the scientific program, conference materials, lunches and coffee breaks, conference dinner, and the extra-scientific program.

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Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

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Arts transmit messages of climate change youth campaign

This post comes to you from Culture|Futures

Pakistan_GPSbanner“Check out the colorful banner that was painted by our team in Pakistan! And click LIKE if you believe that more art in the climate movement is a very good thing,” wrote the organisers of a climate activists’ summit on Facebook to highlight photos of participants bringing banners to the event.

While Istanbul in Turkey is in the news for its protests on Taksim Square and Gezi Park, another kind of civil society mobilisation with a global perspective is currently taking place in one of the suburbs of the city.

500 members of Generation C – the climate generation – have travelled from 134 different countries to attend a youth climate activists’ conference in Istanbul. The American climate campaign organisation 350.org organised the event, which they call ‘Global Power Shift’, in an attempt to build a global movement to solve the climate crisis.

powershift-dance-1

And as the picture above shows, music and dance to centre stage right from the opening plenary on the first day, where the participants also stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Warriors of the Pacific, when they sent a message that as the ocean waters rise around their island homes, they are not drowning – they are fighting.

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“Using the power of music to transmit the message of environmental sustainability and behavior change in energy uses” is a strategy which the 350.org Southeast Asia coordinators formulated and launched in their national programme.

In Ho Chi Minh City on 20 June 2013, they hosted a music night in anticipation for the Global Power Shift campaigning where top Vietnamese singers and ‘GPS Goodwill Ambassadors’ like Thanh Bui, Pham Anh Khoa, Sy Luan, Thuy Hoang Diem, and PiBand, pulled a crowd of over 400 young people.

“If we want to change the world, we have to first change ourselves. I believe in the power of music because music is the best way to inspire and change people’s perceptions about the Earth’s problems,” singer and musician Thanh Bui shared with the crowd.

Vietnam_GPS_june2013

“Our special guests went beyond performing their songs to comment on their shared love of nature, humanity, and the country, revealing personal stories concerning climate change through improvised rap,” reported Nhi Thoi on 350.org:

The Global Power Shift meeting in Istanbul is meant to be a launchpad for something much bigger – national mobilisations throughout the world. In the next week, the organisers will start a planet-wide project to scale up the movement and establish what they hope will become a new course for the global climate movement.

Mike Spine – a singer, recording artist, and music teacher on a six-month global humanitarian music tour to six continents raising awareness for social, economic and environmental justice – was quoted by 350.org as saying:

“I’m very lucky to work with 350.org in the United States. Climate change is a huge challenge, and I’m very impressed to see young Vietnamese people respond strongly to 350’s movement. I hope to be able to bring this enthusiasm to the young communities in the countries where I pass through in my tour, and I’m confident that global youth are those who will make a change.”

global-power-shift-on-fb590


Read more

facebook.com/GlobalPowerShift

Culture|Futures is an international collaboration of organizations and individuals who are concerned with shaping and delivering a proactive cultural agenda to support the necessary transition towards an Ecological Age by 2050.

The Cultural sector that we refer to is an interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral, inter-genre collaboration, which encompasses policy-making, intercultural dialogue/cultural relations, creative cities/cultural planning, creative industries and research and development. It is those decision-makers and practitioners who can reach people in a direct way, through diverse messages and mediums.

Affecting the thinking and behaviour of people and communities is about the dissemination of stories which will profoundly impact cultural values, beliefs and thereby actions. The stories can open people’s eyes to a way of thinking that has not been considered before, challenge a preconceived notion of the past, or a vision of the future that had not been envisioned as possible. As a sector which is viewed as imbued with creativity and cultural values, rather than purely financial motivations, the cultural sector’s stories maintain the trust of people and society.
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New articles about energy alternatives

This post comes to you from Cultura21

The Museum of Fetishes, by Nicholas Hildyard and Larry Lohmann

Too often, discussions about energy alternatives resemble a visit to a 1950s world’s fair exhibition displaying exhibits of the wonderful technology of the future. Against one wall stand shiny replicas of new green machines – wind turbines, solar panels, fuel cells, hypercars, supergrids – alongside diagrams showing how environmentally benign they are. Against another are arrayed labeled bottles of new “substitutes” for oil, coal and gas – corn-based ethanol, rapeseed-based biodiesel, hydrogen cracked out of water, hydrocarbons extruded by algae.

Most of the politics and material realities associated with the various contraptions and conveniences on show, or with the energy they use and transform, are simply missing, as are the strategies of popular movements that might be considering and agitating for different futures.

How should these new visions of technological or economic salvation be read? What role do they play in the real-world politics of energy? How and what can we learn from them? And, if necessary, how can we change the subject? What is glossed over in such displays of “alternatives”is usually more important than what is in them, and there is work to be done in finding out what that is.There is little question that an “energy alternatives” discussion is at least as essential as any other regarding human futures, especially for the industrialised societies whose use of fossil fuels is threatening human survival. But if it is not to degenerate into an irrelevant show of magic tricks, an overdue debt of attention must be paid to voices which up to now have too seldom been heard.

Energy Alternatives – Surveying the Territory, by Larry Lohmann with Nicholas Hildyard and Sarah Sexton

What with a growing climate crisis and increasing uncertainty over the future of fossil fuels, it can be no surprise that the question “what’s the alternative to current energy systems?” is in the air. And there has been no shortage of answers competing for space and attention. In energy policy today, the main conflict is not between business as usual and “The Alternative”, but among the different proposed alternatives themselves. How are these alternatives to be evaluated against each other? The suggested solutions are diverse. The questions being asked are also different, as are the criteria for answering them, the vocabularies in which they are expressed, and the politics with which they are associated. The point of this introduction to the energy transitions issue is not to simplify this debate but to clarify how complex it is. What is on the table in the discussion? Is there a place for everyone there? If so, how will the discussion proceed?

To read more about :http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/sites/thecornerhouse.org.uk/files/The%20Museum%20of%20Fetishes.pdf

http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/sites/thecornerhouse.org.uk/file/ENERGY%20ALTERNATIVES%20–%20SURVEYING%20THE%20TERRITORY.pdf

Cultura21 is a transversal, translocal network, constituted of an international level grounded in several Cultura21 organizations around the world.

Cultura21′s international network, launched in April 2007, offers the online and offline platform for exchanges and mutual learning among its members.

The activities of Cultura21 at the international level are coordinated by a team representing the different Cultura21 organizations worldwide, and currently constituted of:

– Sacha Kagan (based in Lüneburg, Germany) and Rana Öztürk (based in Berlin, Germany)
– Oleg Koefoed and Kajsa Paludan (both based in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Hans Dieleman (based in Mexico-City, Mexico)
– Francesca Cozzolino and David Knaute (both based in Paris, France)

Cultura21 is not only an informal network. Its strength and vitality relies upon the activities of several organizations around the world which are sharing the vision and mission of Cultura21

Go to Cultura21

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About – 350 Earth Art 2010

This November 20-28, 350 EARTH will launch the world’s first ever global climate art project. In over a dozen places across the globe, citizens and artists will create massive public art installations to show how climate change is already impacting our world as well as offer visions of how we can solve the crisis. Each art installation will be large enough to be seen from space and documented by satellites generously provided by DigitalGlobe.

350 EARTH will be the first-ever global scale group show on the front line of climate change—our polluted cities, endangered forests, melting glaciers, and sinking coastlines. People around the world are invited to take part by attending signature events, submitting their own art, and spreading the word about the project.

350 EARTH will take place on the eve of the next United Nations climate meetings in Cancun, Mexico where delegates will work to create an international climate treaty. Our politicians have all the facts, figures, and graphs they need to solve the climate crisis. What they lack is the will. 350 EARTH will demonstrate the massive public support for bold climate action and the role that art can play in inspiring humanity to take on our greatest challenge: protecting the planet on which we live.

About – 350 Earth Art.

Open Call for Climate Change Art

“Calling artists to sketch a climate change design that will be created

using thousands of people in an iconic place threatened by climate change.”

***Deadline: September 6 2010 (midnight PST)***

Introduction

In November 2010, 350.org will organize 20 simultaneous public art pieces that are massive enough to be seen from space and located on the front-lines of the climate crisis – our sinking coastlines, endangered forests, melting glaciers, and polluted cities. We’re looking to recruit top and up-and-coming artists to design these images.  Each public art piece will be photographed by satellite and on site. The images will be widely distributed to mainstream media outlets around the world. 350.org is one of the few organizations in the world with the grassroots network to pull off such an ambitious project. In 2009, we organized over 5,200 events in more than 180 countries, what CNN dubbed “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.”

The Goal

To pierce the consciousness of the world on the eve of the next round of the United Nation Climate Talks, that we need action from our world’s leaders to get us to 350.

What the *%#? is 350?

350 is the parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere that we need to ensure that life as we currently know it continues. Some say it’s the most important number in the world.  In 2008 NASA’s James Hansen reported that we need to keep the CO2 level in the atmosphere below 350 parts per million if we want a planet “similar to the one on which civilization developed, and to which life is adapted.”  We’re at 390 now. Yikes.

To learn more about 350 please see below or visit: www.350.org

Your Role

We invite you to sketch a climate change inspired design that we will create using thousands of people in an iconic place threatened by climate change.  Your design will be captured via satellite and shared with the world.

GUIDELINES

Below are some basic parameters to consider for creating the design.

MATERIALS – We respect that each artist works within their own medium, but for this particular project, we would like to incorporate the people in 350’s amazing international grassroots network to realize your design, in essence have people physically make up some or all of your design with their bodies. 350.org can organize several thousand people to participate.  Because the designs will be captured from the sky, designs that have sharp contrast and bright colors are more likely to pop and be picked up by satellite.  Designs can also be a combination of humans + materials.

SIZE – The ideal minimum size for capturing the art via satellite is roughly equivalent to a soccer field,

e.g. 110 meters x 70 meters (120 yards x 75 yards).

The Nitty Gritty of “Sculpting with People”:  Each pixel in the satellite photo is 60cm x 60cm which translates into all “lines” for forming the designs ideally being at least 2 meters x 2 meters. If you are using humans, this means each “line” should be at least 5-10 people wide, (note this assumes the people are standing).  If your design involves people lying down or incorporating materials into the design, these numbers might shift.

TIME OF DAY – The satellite images can be taken during the day or at night. (If you’re considering a nighttime installation involving illumination, we encourage artists to consider light sources that are not energy intensive.)

“350” We encourage (but do not require), artists to find a way to incorporate this critical number into their piece. If artists opt not to incorporate 350 into the design, we ask that the number be placed on the side as a signature.  Artists can also engage traditional number systems to display the image, or investigate the concept of ¨parts per million¨.

Note: In order for 350 to be captured by satellite, the number needs to be at least 50ft x 30ft or 15m x 40m

LOCATIONS

Below is a list of the current locations where we will be creating the designs as well as climate change issues important to these regions:

United States

Los Angeles, California

Desert, New Mexico

Gulf of Mexico (most likely on the water collaborating with fisherman and fishing boats)

Midwest – location tbd

Mexico

Mexico City

Cancun (issue – sea level rise)

Dominican Republic

Bolivia

Altiplano near La Paz

Brazil

Clearcut in Jungle (issue – deforestation) or City – Sao Paulo

Iceland

Note because of limited daylight in November this will most likely be a light installation

Spain

Barcelona

Egypt

Desert outside of Cairo

South Africa

TBD

India

Mumbai (issue water and sea level rise)

Maldives (issue sea level rise)

Philippines

China

Shanghai or Beijing

Australia

Antarctica (issue massive ice melt)

350.ORG SUPPORT

Although 350.org cannot monetarily compensate artists, we will give artists full recognition for their designs as well as support and augment artists’ work in a multitude of ways:

  • REALIZE YOUR CONCEPT

350.org has an international grassroots network of people who can realize your concept.

  • MEDIA EXPOSURE

350.org has a stellar communications team with a successful track record of garnering press for their international actions.  For example, last October, 350.org coordinated 5200 simultaneous demonstrations around the world, what CNN called ‘the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history’ on any issue.  Due to 350.org communications team, these actions were also widely covered by a wealth of media outlets from local to global media giants like CNN.

350.ORG

350.org is an international campaign that’s building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis–the solutions that science and justice demand.

Our mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

Our focus is on the number 350–as in parts per million CO2. If we can’t get below that, scientists say, the damage we’re already seeing from global warming will continue and accelerate.  But 350 is more than a number–it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.

CRITERIA

Entries will be judged using the following criteria:

  • a. Effectiveness in communicating a climate change message with a creative image.
  • b. Likelihood the design can be created in the specific sites 350.org has identified.
  • c. Likelihood the image will easily be captured by satellite according to the aforementioned guidelines.

ARTWORK

Designs must be original work created by the artists.  By submitting a design to 350.org’s EARTH, artists are granting 350.org permission to use this design for the 350.org EARTH project.  350.org will give full credit to the artists whose designs we use.

METHOD for SUBMITTING ART

Please note that we will only be able to accept online submissions: www.350.org/earth

FINAL DESIGNS

We will be contacting artists whose designs we will be creating, Monday, September 13, 2010.  Please note that due to our limited capacity, we will be unable to respond to non-finalists.

QUESTIONS

For questions please e-mail EARTH@350.org.  Please note it may take us several days to respond to your questions.

THANK YOU

350.org would like to thank the Artist Philip Krohn who conceptualized the EARTH logo, for granting 350.org permission to use this image for 350.org’s EARTH.

RETHINK-ing perspectives: art and climate

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Safety Gear for Small Animals, 1994 by Bill Burns, featured in RETHINK

If you haven’t found them yet, the people behind RETHINK, Contemporary Art and Climate Change have set up a number of debate pages on their website athttp://www.rethinkclimate.org/.

There is also plenty of extraordinarily rich material on the site to debate. Take this essay fromSøren Pold which starts by namechecking Petko Dourmana’s Post Global Warming Survival Kit (mentioned round these parts earlier this year):


Digital media art like Petko Dourmana’s installation offers the opportunity to experience another, new nature, or at least it gives us a new and up-to-date perspective on nature. In addition to being a crisis for the globe and for humanity, the climate crisis is also an epistemological crisis, and we need to change our perception of our environment in order to better understand and deal with it. In other words it is also a cultural, epistemological challenge.

The nature, the weather, that previously we have regarded as something out there simply beyond our reach, as something that was in opposition to culture when we analysed poetry in high school, this has now turned into yet another structure of signs to be read and interpreted. We cannot see the greenhouse gasses or their effects directly with our senses so our understanding of the climate challenges are very much based on climate models, and we must act on this background in our daily lives as well as, obviously, politically and culturally. The climate crisis introduces us to the fact that our immediate surroundings are being mediated by complex visualisations, interfaces, statistics and carbon quotas – thus an imaginary computer interface lurks in the blue sky, even deep in the country with no computers in sight!

This isn’t the point that Pold is trying to make but there is also an inescapbable sense in which our vision has become polluted by the science we now need to understand it.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

The achilles heel of climate campaigners

As American writer Barbara Ehrenreich suggests in her book Bright-Sided, it’s now OK to say that optimism may be over-rated.  If a relentless economic positivism led to the economic crash, I’d also say that an instituational inability to say how dire things really are environmentally must now be seen as one of the contributing factors to why the public are reluctant to back the kind of radical measures we need from COP15.

In private, climate experts often admit they’re scared silly about what the future’s going to be like; in public they maintain a more positive face. There are, of course, very good reasons for this. Conventionally, we assume that people don’t change unless there’s something in it for them. But what if the climate crisis doesn’t fit this paradigm for cultural change? What if we actually need to start to panic to achieve change?

A slightly comic tussle took place on Monday in the Guardian between two people – both climate campaigners – who hold opposing views on this. The new British bugle blower for looking apocalypse in the face has been the writer and activist Paul Kingsnorth, who, along with his friend Dougald Hine, established the anti-modernist Dark Mountain Project to urge us to embrace the end of civilisation, (see this blog from  a few weeks ago). Kingsnorth’s radical view is that civilisation is the disease, not the cure. Any efforts civilisation makes to combat climate change are doomed to failure, and will only prolong the descent.

Kingsnorth and the Guardian’s climate rottweiler George Monbiot went to head on this, Kingsnorth belittling Monbiot’s efforts to browbeat us to reform ourselves:

We still believe that we will be able to continue living more or less the same comfortable lives (albeit with more windfarms and better lightbulbs) if we can only embrace “sustainable development” rapidly enough; and that we can then extend it to the extra 3 billion people who will shortly join us on this already gasping planet.

It’s an odd situation for Monbiot to find himself in. Monbiot is more accustomed to coming under attack from the denial-bots of the conspiracist fringe. Now activist Kingsnorth himself is attacking his friend Monbiot forbeing a denialist. You have to feel sorry for the man. Interestingly poet and author Kingsnorth comes at the issue as much as an artist as a camaigner – and as noted earlier – art often scratches at the apocalyptic door.

Monbiot’s obvious defence is to point out that Kingsnorth’s millenarianism has a lurid seam of misanthropy to it:

I note that you have failed to answer my question about how many people the world could support without modern forms of energy and the systems they sustain, but 2 billion is surely the optimistic extreme. You describe this mass cull as “a long descent” or a “retreat to a saner world”. Have you ever considered a job in the Ministry of Defence press office?

Monbiot is right of course. Kingsnorth’s world is a dark one. It’s just whenever I hear Monbiot arguing like this, there’s something about the primness of his tone, the convolutions of his clauses and the use of words like “surely” that always makes me think of Miss Jean Brodie.

But despite the misanthropy of Kingsnorth’s position, he has hit on a real achilles heel of the climate change movement. It’s never healthy to believe one thing and say another.

Read the Guardian article.

The Dark Mountain Project

By the by, Kingsnorth himself refers to Monbiot’s love of McCarthy’s The Road as evidence of Monbiot’s own millenarianism. Kingsnorth and I have been disagreeing about that book (see comments); he doesn’t think it’s about climate change at all. It’s one of those arguments where the only solution will be to pull McCarthy off the sidewalk and ask him himself:

EDIT. Coincidentally, Bill McKibben and Steven Colbert also danced around the same maypole on the Colbert Report, with Cobert adopting a slightly lighter form of millenarianism: “It’s game over. We should all have end of the world sex, right now. We’re all going to die!”

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bill McKibben
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Protests

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