This week has brought profound jolts with respect to political and economic predictions on climate change, the first from Rajendra Pachauri, leading the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He seriously doubts that the US will be able to make the pledge needed on carbon reduction. This is frightening given the latest revision on sea levels which has been given wide press coverage this week. Scientists think their rise will be nearly twice as much as they previously reckoned, which would be disastrous for an estimated 600 million people (the UK population was 60.5 million in 2006).
This is why increasing numbers of artist and arts organisations are focusing on the Arctic and the Antarctic for their subject matter.
The most recent exhibition relating to the Antarctic is at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland. You have until 29 March to visit it. Anne Brodie has created a chandelier using a huge block of ice from the Antarctic lit not by electricity but by bacteria. It’s creativity and collaboration that we need and Brodie’s work is an exemplar of both, supported as it is by the British Antarctic Survey, Arts Catalyst and Arts Council England as well of course by the National Glass Centre – together presumably with the advice and support of scientists and technicians.
Anthony Giddens wrote in The Guardian on Wednesday 11 March of the “collaboration essential to coping with climate change” (more on this in his new book The Politics of Climate Change which will be available in a week’s time). It’s collaboration – relationships – which makes me sure that the word “ecology” is the right one for our centre here and of which we need so much more. We have a lot to learn on the subject from artists.