Global Problems

Devoted to artistic means of expression related to youth and climate

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Press Release

Special issue of Asia Pacific Mountain Courier on Youth and Climate Change.

Art in all its forms is a powerful means of communication. The arts help overcome barriers of language and culture, and they provide a creative pathway for debating and exploring global problems. For young people concerned with climate change, the arts offer a way to reach out and raise awareness among their friends, in their communities, and in the world beyond.

This issue of the Asia-Pacific Mountain Courier is devoted to artistic means of expression related to youth and climate. It builds on the previous issue on youth and climate published in November 2010, which focused on youth views, understanding, and climate change activities.

The contributions include posters, photo essays, illustrations, and other art works. They are drawn from youth leaders and youth motivators affiliated to several networks promoting youth engagement in sustainability, climate action, and the mountain agenda. Many of the contributions are drawn from the Youth Forum #150; Empowering Youth with Earth Observation Information for Climate Actions, held from 1 to 6 October 2010 at ICIMOD in Kathmandu, and the Asia-Pacific Forum: Youth Action on Climate Change; Exploration through Cultural Expression, organised by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) from 24 to 27 January 2011 in Bangkok.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

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Which -cene Are We In?

Are we heading into an era of a homogonized plant and animal communities, brought on by our global economy that moves everything around, whether it is goods, animals or bacteria and fungus?

In an article titled The Sixth Extinction in the May 25, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert writes about the mysterious disappearance of tree frogs from Panama and Costa Rica, which scientists now believe is caused by a fungus that we’ve unknowingly helped jump continents. In the article, I was struck by a term used to refer to the epoch we live in: the homogenocene.

Last year, I made a post about the anthropocene or geological epoch defined by humans. The homogenocene is also all about us and refers to the declining biodiversity and diminishing ecosystems left in the wake of human development. When talking about the natural world, what’s important is to realize that every living thing on earth will have to go through the bottleneck of human development. The assumption now is that many species will die out, leaving us with a diminished natural world David Quamman has called the Planet of the Weeds.

{New York Weed (Longspine sandbur), ink on paper, 30 x 22 inches, 2005 by Katie Holten.}

Whatever we call it (my vote is for homogenocene, although it seems that both terms have an extra syllable that makes it hard to pronounce) this is a topic artists have been working with recently, such as the Katie Holten drawing above.

What role can artists take as scientists report on this undergoing mass extinction? One route might be helping understand how to live in this increasingly homogenized natural world, or how to begin carving out localized economies and ways of living. Or making sense of and helping communicate about what is lost.

I have to be honest though, reading about mass extinction makes me feel that almost all artistic effort and work is futile in the face of these global problems. Humans are already the ultimate weed and the planet is simply becoming one giant self-portrait. And rather then tending it like a scruffy garden or arboretum, I’m afraid we might end up with one big lawn.

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