Science

Osomocene

This post comes to you from Chantal Bilodeau’s Artists and Climate Change Blog

By guest contributors Seth Baum and Inés Garcia

Greetings. We are Seth Baum and Inés Garcia. We are a scientist and an artist. And we both care about climate change. Seth cares about climate change because of the threat it poses to humanity, to other happy living things, and to their future in the universe. Inés cares about climate change because it affects every person and living being on the planet and we, as a civilization, are far too intelligent to continue contributing to the destruction of the endless resources on this planet.

We made Osomocene Productions because we believe that humanity can make a world that has a healthy environment and is still enjoyable for us humans. Indeed, we coined the word Osomocene to mean the Age of Awesome – awesome for humans and awesome for the environment. We intend the Osomocene as the successor to the current era, the Anthropocene, which is defined by human disruption of the environment. With Osomocene Productions, we want to envision this age of awesome and communicate the vision to other people so that together we can make the vision a reality.

Osomocene Productions articulates its vision for a better world through short-form online videos. Short form videos are fun and easy to watch, and they offer us the chance to talk about a variety of subjects. By putting them online, anyone can watch them, and who knows, they may even ‘go viral’ and get seen by many. (Click here to share our videos!) But most importantly, short-form videos let us create everyday scenarios that depict positive ways to help with climate change that everyone can take part in.

Our collaboration brings together Seth’s research and Ines’s artistry. Seth’s research covers two important areas. First is the science of climate change, and in particular the science of what people can do to help with climate change. Second is the science of communication, and the psychology of how communication can translate into action. Ines’s artistic sense for aesthetic quality helps us identify key themes from the research and convert them, through dramatic interpretation, into compelling story and character. Ines also manages the logistics of how to produce a film, coordinating with actors, directors, editors, and crew.

So far, we have produced one video (titled Vegetarian Cookbook) and have a second video scheduled for filming in April. Many more ideas are in the works. These videos have given us the chance to explore and refine our artistic and collaborative styles. Working together has been a tremendous growth process for both of us. We’re constantly trying out new ideas in our ongoing effort to promote a better world.

Filed under: Featured Artist, Multimedia, Video

Artists and Climate Change is a blog by playwright Chantal Bilodeau that tracks artistic responses from all disciplines to the problem of climate change. It is both a study about what is being done, and a resource for anyone interested in the subject. Art has the power to reframe the conversation about our environmental crisis so it is inclusive, constructive, and conducive to action. Art can, and should, shape our values and behavior so we are better equipped to face the formidable challenge in front of us.

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ARTIST AS ACCIDENTAL ACTIVIST

Fragile Spring: found cardboard box, India ink, 6

A nice mention of the CSPA and partners in Filter….

Revealing the value of the intangible has long been the domain of shamans, homeopaths, permaculturists and conceptual artists – and is perhaps one of the best hopes we have for rapidly shifting our culture towards one of increased efficiency and sustainability. Many contemporary artists are finding themselves inadvertently part of a new of movement that includes a sense of responsibility for defending the environment. Frustrated by a system based on mindless overconsumption of limited resources, they are choosing to develop creative, alternative ways to live, work, and communicate. Organisations such as EcoartspaceThe Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts , theSheila T. Johnson Design Center at Parsons/The New School for Social Research and Art & Science Collaborations, Inc are assisting in the emergence of this new interdisciplinary field.

via Filter Magazine – filter.anat.org.au.

Marcus Brigstocke’s #COP15

Just in case you’d missed the BBC’s Now Show clip, here’s the transcript. Brigstocke was one of those on the 2008 Cape Farewell expedition.

The delegates came and the delegates sat
And they talked and they talked till their bums all went flat
Then a delegate said of the country he knew
“We must do something quick but just what should we do
So they sat again thinking and there they stayed seated
Sitting and thinking “the planet’s been heated”
“I think” said a delegate there from Peru
“That we all must agree on some things we could do
Like reducing emissions at least CO2″
So they nodded and noted then vetoed and voted
And one of them stood up and suddenly quoted
“It’s the science you see, that’s the thing that must guide us
When the leaders all get here they’re certain to chide us”
So they sat again thinking about what to think
Then decided to ponder what colour of ink
To use on the paper when they’d all agreed
To be selfless not greedy McGreedy McGreed
“But how do we choose just what colour to use”
Said a delegate there who’d been having a snooze
“We need clear binding targets definitive action
We must all agree clearly without more distraction”
So they sat again thinking of targets for ink
But the ink in their thinking had started to stink
And they started to think that the ink was a kink
In the thinking about real things they should think
“If ze climate needs mending then zis is our chance”
Said the nuclear delegate sent there by France
“We need to agree on one thing to agree on
Something we all want a fixed guarantee on”
“Yes” said another who thought this made sense
Some value for carbon in dollars or pence
But the mention of money and thoughts of expense
Had stifled the progress and things became tense
The fella from China with a smile on his face
Said “Who put the carbon there in the first place”
“Wasn’t us” said the U.S then Europe did too
Then a silence descended and no words were spoken
Till a delegate stood up, voice nervous and broken
“Is there nothing upon which we all can decide
Because on Wednesday my chicken laid eggs that were fried”
“We all like a sing song” said the bloke from Down Under
But then the great hall was all shouting and thunder
Policemen had entered and were wearing protesters
Who they’d beaten and flattened like bloodied sou’westers
The police had decided to downplay this crime
With prevention detention and beatings in rhyme
The Greenies who’d shouted and asked for a decision
Were now being battered with lethal precision
All sick of inaction and fed up of waiting
All tired of the endless debated placating
They’d risen up grating berating and hating
So the police had commenced the related abating
Ban Ki-moon put his head in another man’s lap
And was last heard muttering something like “crap”
But the chap next to him said “It’s more like it’s poo”
So the great hall debated not what they should do
But how to decide between crap cack and poo
“It is poo” “It is cack” “It is crap” “We agree”
Which was written and labelled as document three
“I think if we all find one thing we agree on
Then maybe Brazil might be left with a tree on”
So they sat again thinking of trees and Brazil
And of glaciers which had retreated uphill
And they thought of the poor folks whose homes were in flood
But less of the protesters covered in blood
They pondered the species so nearly extinct
It’s as if they all thought that these things might be linked
“We need a solution we need action please”
Said a lady who’d come from the sinking Maldives
The others all nodded and said it was fact
That the time must be now not to talk but to act
Then Obama arrived and said most rhetorical
“Action is action and not metaphorical”
“Wow” they all thought “he must mean arregorical [sic]“
“I love it when Barack goes all oratorical”
“But the problem I have is that Congress won’t pass it
“Bugger” said Ban Ki then “sorry” then “arse it”
Then Brown said “I’ve got it now how does this strike you?
It’s simpler when voters already dislike you”
He suggested the EU should lead from the front
So The Mail and The Telegraph called him something very unpleasant indeed
So the delegates stared at the text with red marks on
Ignoring the gales of laughter from Clarkson
No-one was satisfied nobody won
Except the morons convinced it was really the sun
And they blew it and wasted the greatest of chances
Instead they all frolicked in diplomat dances
And decided decisively right there and then
That the best way to solve it’s to meet up again
And decide on a future that’s greener and greater
Not with action right now but with something else later

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Environmentalism is the new religion? So what if it is?

Sceptics often say that environmentalism is a religion rather than a science. It was the late Michael Crichton who stirred this one up originally, writing: “environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.” Fair enough: just like Marxism, which predicted a paradise to come after the end-time collapse of captalism, much of environmentalism undeniably draws its inspiration from 19th century millenarian Christianity. There is a catastrophic reckoning coming; there are saints and sinners. We’re all going to BURN in the post-Six Degrees world. And so on.

And, in this increasingly secular slice of Northern Europe, in particular, to call anything a religion is to belittle it.

But what if it is a new religion? Environmentalism certainly acts in the same way as many of the great non-conformist religions did. Those religions were passionate. They were about leading a more moral life. They were about taking action collectively rather than individual action. They held meetings regularly, gathered on commons and played loud music together. They too were derided as a bunch of feckless, dangerous, sandal-wearing wastrels.

I should say at this stage that I don’t have a religious bone in my body – though I once wrote a book on new religious movements that came out in paperback with a nice quote from Matthew Taylor’s dad on the front cover. I wrote it following the Waco siege, and what I came to realise when writing it was that it wasn’t that cults had become madder in recent decades, rather that we had become increasingly intolerant – even scared – of religious behaviour. This trend of suspicion and fear manifests itself intellectually in the radical scientific positivism of Richard Dawkins, for whom all believers are both deranged, and reducible to fundamentalists and Creationists. It manifests itself in the way we have conflated Islam with terrorism. And so on and on.

Religion has been around as long as human society; ideas of the sacred have been a crucial way in which we understand the physical world around us. From a historical point of view, what’s really odd is the aggressive secularism that’s taken hold in this small piece of the world.

But anyway. It turns out that the legal system is one step ahead. In yesterday’s Guardian blog, Andrew Brown points out that environmentalism is on the verge of accidentally being accorded the status of religion:

Is committed greenery entitled to the same protections as a religion? The question has come up with the appeal against the judgment in the case of Tim Nicholson, the former head of sustainability at Grainger, a property investment company, who claims he was dismissed in part because he took his green convictions seriously and the company did not. After a 2007 change in the regulations, he may be protected under the anti-discrimination law in the same way that a religious believer would be, providing only that his philosophical beliefs are cogent, serious and “worthy of respect in a democratic society”.

So there you go.

But thinking about environmentalism as if it were a religion is an interesting way to go. So far, it has to be conceded, religion looks a lot more successful at achieving its aims worldwide than the environmental movement has. The Pope still draws a bigger crowd than any Franny Armstrong video. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so shy of those elements of quasi-religious conviction that float into environmentalism.

The big difference is that environmentalism is of course, based on modern science, rather than old books and prophets. This is a secular religion, above all. But if it’s going to succeed, there has to be an element of faith there too. That sort of all-in this together faith that there is a possible future that is the other side of the apocalyptic vision. As Mark Dowd, Campaign Director of the church-based environmental campaign Operation Noah comments in theGuardian online today:

I believe virtue and example are contagious. Look at what happened recently with the launch of the 10:10 campaign, which the Guardian is backing. No sooner had Ed Miliband signed up to cut his own carbon emissions by 10%, than we were being told the whole Tory front bench were getting ready to endorse the pledge. Within 24 hours, the entire cabinet had also jumped on board and Liberal Democrats announced they were looking at moves to make this a resolution which would bind the whole party.

EDIT

I see the aforementioned Matthew Taylor is also musing on the positives of religion in his most recent blog.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

“Civil resistance”, science and ethics

We are in for a season of civil disobedience. The Save Vestas campaign has gone national.Kingsnorth rumbles on, as does the Heathrow protest – which is likely to be the focus of the next Climate Camp at the end of August. Next month also sees Wales‘  and Scotland’s first Climate Camps. As COP15 focusses minds, there are even plans to disrupt the Copenhagen meeting.

A generation of jobless students will now swell numbers. But should those less used to participating in civil action also be getting stuck in?

In a recent newsletter [PDF 147KB], climate scientist/activist James Hansen concludes with a short section titled “Civil Resistance: Is the Sundance Kid a Criminal?”, suggesting the urgent need for what Gandhi called “civil resistance” rather than “civil disobedience”, especially directed towards companies who are guilty of passing the bill for carbon clean up to future generations. Even though his choice of gun-slinging Western hero rather shows which era he’s coming from, I guess he’s qualified to talk, because James Hansen himself was arrested alongside Daryl Hannah last month for his part in the West Virginia coal mining protests.

The excellent climate science blogger Jo Abbess has just raised his arrest in a post which argues that such action by scientists is vital because, as George Marshall of the New Scientisthas been saying, the public as a whole are not changing their behaviour in the way that those scientists know they should be .

This argument implies that scientists, as the people who really understand the bottom line, are now ethically bound to start to do more than produce data. They must join with scientists like Hansen. But if scientists remain hesitant to get start linking arms and chaining themselves to fences, Hansen’s own reputation as a leading climate scientist is an example of why. The man warned Congress back in 1988 about the perils of global warming has been under assault ever since he turned activist. Despite his role as a leading scientist and head of the NASA Gordon Institute for Space Studies, his name has been dragged through the mud by global warming sceptics. His arrest last month prompted the New York Times headline “Does NASA’s James Hansen Still Matter?”

What are the responsibilities of those who know to act? And what are the consequences if they do?

“Well done ThWART” photo by darrangange

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Interview with activist/video maker Leo Murray

I’ve just posted an interview that Caleb Klaces did with Leo Murray for on the main RSA Arts & Ecology website. Murray did the clever little viral video Wake Up Freak Out – Then Get a Grip which has been doing the rounds on the net.

Art has the ability to move people in a way that nothing else does. In the world we live in today, screen media is the most prominent cultural feature. People spend the majority of their waking hours staring at screens (computers and TVs), which gives you a clue if you’re trying to propagate social change. If you don’t try and come at people through their screens you’re just standing behind them tapping them on the shoulder saying “Hey, over here…”. It’s really clear that there’s no way to bring about the social change that we need to deal with climate change without the use of screen media. Aside from mass media, I’m pretty certain that The Age of Stupid [which Murray animated the first three minutes of] is the most powerful tool to motivate people around climate change that exists now. It does the opposite of what I do in my film, it barely addresses the science at all. It’s set in the future and uses narrative to suck you in. Taking a historical view seems a very productive perspective…

Read the whole interview.

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Why does it always have to be Chas?

This morning’s Telegraph leads with the story of Prince Charles giving the  warning that we have “less than 100 months to save the world“.

Wonder what sort of crisis would it take to get a mainstream politician to make a similarly unequivocal statement  – one which in the light of new data emerging now on an amost daily basis is, after all, hardly scientifically controversial?

As long as the public continues to doubt the climtate science, as IPSOS Mori polls show they do, politicians remain reluctant to call a stick a stick – though to move swiftly from one metaphor to another, it’s unclear in this case which is the egg and which is the chicken.

In such circumstances, it’s not surprising that the undemocratic medium of green custard will continue to be used.

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