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Artistic Expression: A Better Way to Fathom Climate Change?

Vaughn Bell's Village Green. Image courtesy Kevin Kennefick.

Vaughn Bell's Village Green. Image courtesy Kevin Kennefick.

In a previous life I was a weather forecaster. It always annoyed me when someone would point to a cold spell and announce that global warming was ridiculous. Using a warm spell as evidence of global warming was equally annoying. No single weather event disconnected from all other weather events can say anything about climate change. Climate takes time.

Political action also takes time. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has for years been warning about the dangers of increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Last week President Obama announced that he would use his executive powers to force power plants to reduce their CO2 emissions.

It’s hard for people to “see” climate change in any meaningful way. Floods and droughts we can comprehend, the seasons also, but an event that stretches over decades is hard to grasp. Science gives us the data, but doesn’t help us see on a scale that we can actually experience. But perhaps art can allow us to experience climate change, even if only a little bit. CHF’s Sensing Change exhibit aims to do just that. Nine artists address environmental change through their work at the Museum at CHF.

And since we’re also a heritage organization we’ve got some surprising history lined up for you. Welcome to 19th century attempts to control the weather, not to mention the much scarier Cold War efforts to manipulate weather and climate for geopolitical purposes. We also have some future, including Susan Solomon talking about what we can expect from climate change.

History, people, and art can give insight into science and certainly make it more comprehensible on a human scale. And when it comes to climate change we need all the insight we can get.

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