Stephen Emmott, an acclaimed scientist, stands in a re-creation of his cluttered Cambridge office and delivers, under Katie Mitchell’s astute direction, an illustrated 60-minute talk on the consequences of over-population. He tells us that we are facing “an unprecedented planetary emergency” and, under his calm exterior, you sense a concealed fury at our failure to address the crisis.
The Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight, under occupation by a handful of workers, is set for closure at the end of this month, citing â€œlack of demandâ€; that this happened in the immediate aftermath ofÂ Ed Milibandâ€™s Energy Transition White Paper is ironic, to say the least. Three years ago, asÂ Seamus Milne points out,Â Nicholas Stern nailed climate change as â€œthe greatest market failure the world has ever seenâ€. Itâ€™s time to nail the myth that â€œlack of demandâ€ is a natural state, to which everything must submit.
The illustration is from an installation by the British artist Michael Pinsky at this Julyâ€™sKortrijk annual all-night arts festival. The four supporting columns of Belgiumâ€™s tallest wind turbines were transformed into giant meters, monitoring the ecological impact of Kortrijkâ€™s all-night event. The consumption of energy and water, the production waste, and noise levels were all metered by two rings of projectect light moving up and down the turbines, as if, to quote the artistsâ€™s statement, the festival was â€œfeedingâ€Â Monometer.