Day 5-- Copenhagen Blog: Art

There are a lot of images that are swimming in my head.

It's a bitter cold day and I’m tired.  Though there were some developments today (the EU pledged big sums of money to developing countries to fight climate change and called for 30% reduction of emissions by 2020), I’ve also heard that the Bella Center, where the negotiations are being conducted, has turned into a cesspool of rumors -- mostly negative -- about what kind of deal could emerge out of Copenhagen.

I realize that climate change and the science and rhetoric of the topic can be mind numbing – I mean what does 350 parts per million mean? What do all of the acronyms and science mean? It’s hard to grasp and sometimes it truly is overwhelming and quite frankly frustrating.  So as I finished up one of our briefings I went for a fast, brisk walk to clear my head. 

After a bit of ambling through the main walking street I crossed into one of the many squares that have become home to displays on climate change. In this square I was presented with images from a project called 100 Places to Remember Before they Disappear (100places.com). The outdoor exhibit features 100 photographs from one hundred different places around the world in risk of disappearing or becoming seriously threatened by climate change.  Every corner of the world was represented: Chicago, Illinois;  The Amazon Rainforest, Brazil; The Yamal Peninsula, Siberia, Russia; Mount Al-Maknal, Lebanon. I highly suggest you visit this website. The images and stories are jaw dropping.

I slowly wandered away contemplating what I had just seen, and then was jolted back into the present as I realized I needed to get back to our hub for our next briefing. I entered the square where the hub is located in a frenzy, but then was unexpectedly compelled to stop dead in my tracks. A group of 20 young teens were doing a performance piece on climate change. I had no idea what they were saying as they passionately recited words of text in a different language, but what they conveyed with their passion and the images they displayed in their performance made me pause.  They were telling a story and I was mesmerized and deeply moved. Myself a performer I was reminded of the power of art. 

Then strangely in a weird kismet I settled in to write my piece and the artist May Lin was on CNN talking about art and climate change. It was truly the theme of the day. She has created a piece specifically addressing climate change and the world’s endangered species. She said in her interview that art has the power to make us rethink things in a simpler way, that art can break things down to a bear essence – and that messages through art might not come at you with fact, but more viscerally. With that I will end this blog. I can’t add anything more profound than that.