Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Weathering the Perfect Storm? What can I do?

Yeah, I've been on BBC's Science/Environment page again. At least they're reporting something, not many other media groups even bother. I'm well aware of the fact that all media releases are biased in one way or another, but the scientific community has been unanimous in telling us, "you're fucking the planet," for years!

"The UK's chief scientist John Beddington has warned that by 2030 the rising global population will create a 'perfect storm' of food, energy and water shortages - unless the world changes its ways.

But despite virtually unanimous academic opinion, half of us still believe science is divided on whether mankind's activities contribute to climate change, and more than a quarter of us don't think our individual behaviour makes any difference to the environmental crisis."

These few articles have got me wondering, just how we're going to survive cause it's one thing to talk about changing lifestyles and habits, it's another thing to actually do it. I've been trying to get my family into a meat+dairy free day a week, but resistance to change from the carnivorous males of the pride is fierce. Especially from the alpha male, who is passive-aggressively stuck in his ways. Maybe I need to get him a 'smart meter' so he can measure what he's saving on electricity/energy if he changes things. But even the suggestion that we use my partner Becca's new model Fridge instead of our ten-year-old-with-leaky-seals one in the kitchen have been met with stubborn resistance.

The more I read about the state of the planet, and the more I discuss it with those that are working in Ecology or Conservation, the more I want to be able to make a difference. This is the driving force behind my art work at the moment. Science is so vital to our existence, but the communication between scientific communities and the rest of the world is often not as effective as it needs to be.

I think if more artists can push into making art 'environmentally' or making art which is conceptually charged about important climate/political issues, people will get a higher dose of exposure to the same message. We're living in a fundamentally visual culture, people have shorter attention spans due to television and new media, so why not show them images/artworks that challenge them to think about the state of things, which might prompt them into doing their own reading on the subject, which may inspire change.

I know there's a lot of maybes and mights, but I think sensationalism. globalisation and the media have made people feel like the problems are so huge, that they can't actually do anything about them. This goes for so many things.

I remember as a child watching Save the Children Fund adverts showing hundreds of children that were starving, these adverts were overwhelming, the poverty and sickness such huge things that it felt inaccessible. But when they changed to having the story of a single child, it became accessible, and more people felt like there was something they could do. This is the kind of model that needs to be applied to climate change.

Yoko Ono was saying on twitter the other day, that everyone should try and do 'Meat free Mondays' because the impact of that alone on the level of methane etc. released into the environment. It was good to know I'm not the only one trying to encourage that. And I'm sure she has a lot more clout than I do! It's little things like this that everyone needs to start doing. Even remember to turn the lights off. Scientists are already calling this the age of waste! That's not a name I want to be branded with.

I was speaking to Marty Vreede about my Waiora piece the other day, and my concern for the fresh water systems in this country. He told me that he's been saying to people for years that the wars in 100years time are going to be over water, and as such, NZ is in deep trouble - there is huge rainfall on the West Coast of the South Island, war could come here.

Surely it's better to act now than reach times where things like that, and the predicted food, energy and water shortage of 2030 which is being branded 'Perfect Storm'.

From my point of view, I've got reason to fight for a better future that I never really had before. After years of depression and uncertainty about whether I'd be around much longer, I've come to a place where I'm very settled, grounded, and sure of what I'm doing with my life. A lot of that is down to meeting my partner Becca.

The impact that having her in my life has been profound. The love and support she gives me allow me the freedom to pursue anything, secure in the knowledge that even if it doesnt all go to plan, I'll still have stability.

The exposure I've had through her, and her passion for Ecology, to the academic/scientific community in Massey's Ecology department has really influenced my work. It has given me artistic direction for this year and probably the foreseeable future.

Having the stability to plan a future with her has allowed me to push my work in ways that I may not have had the courage to otherwise. It's something that I can not thank her enough for. But the great part about our relationship is that she's found similar inspiration in my passion for Art, and my pushing through to forge my career. It does feel like together we can make changes. Together we've found a future that's worth fighting for, for us and our children...

BTW if you missed it 60minutes on NZ's Freshwater.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I agree - scientific discourse just goes over the heads of most everyday people, who are (quite rightly) just trying to put food on the table and raise their kids to have the best opportunities possible. And there are those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo who take minor points of disagreement within the scientific community and exaggerate them to make it seem as though there is no scientific consensus about what is actually happening, even though scientists themselves are pretty much unanimous. Someone's gotta make the scientific discussion accessible to the masses so they can continue to care for their families and one another :)