Years ago there used to be a farm across from my house. The sounds that came from there were only from the animals that lived there. The pigs, sheep, cows and constant chirping from the passing birds during the day and at night the constant droning from the crickets. Now only 10 years later it is all gone. No more birds or insects- just the noise of cars and busses driving all day and into the night.
I agree that the sounds of the world have changed and in some places very rapidly. We talk about climate change and that the world we see is what is changing. We can see the glaciers melt, the sea levels rise, coral reefs die, but we don’t often talk about what we hear. Seeing is believing but a sound can do just as much as an image if not more.
People react differently to the same sound. Some may cry or laugh at the same noise. It really depends on our perspective. Two people could hear the sound of a glacier falling into the ocean but one would imagine a larger piece of ice fall than the other. The fact that sound can come from a source but have multiple interpretations is what makes it valuable and important to conserve.
The world is changing but we need to realize that more than just what we can see is changing. The sounds we hear everyday are changing as well. We might not realize it but if we open our ears and listen we might just hear the difference.
Access to water is a huge issue even today’s world. We are lucky to have access to basically unlimited clean water. This isn’t often the case in other parts of the world. Water in many developing countries is tainted in one way or another and there are many projects in place to combat this inequality. Water is essential to life and everyone should have access to clean water no matter where they live.
Looking at this issue from the perspective of climate change sheds a very different and foreboding light on this critical situation. What happens if we run out of water? Any of us can go into the bathroom and turn on the faucet for as long as we want. We often take this for granted and don’t consider what are lives would look like without this invaluable resource. With increasing temperatures and extreme weather a drought is a very real issue that could arise. This is especially true in places that are already dry and don’t receive a lot of rainfall. Then think that humans are mostly made of water.
Whenever a resource is scarce the rich get it and the less rich don’t. This would be no different if water became a rarity. This is already obvious in the world today. Who has water and who doesn’t? This creates additional problems of class and divides people even more. The serious problem that climate change could cause to our would be even worse than you might initially think. This is the depressing but very real truth of climate change.
We are taught history to learn from others mistakes, but many say history repeats itself. We may think that what is happening to our climate is a first, but we would be wrong. This happened to the Norse in Greenland and to the Polynesians who lived on Easter Island. Just this time it is a lot bigger so more people are noticing.
We are aware that the climate is changing at a very rapid pace. Many of us know that the oceans are becoming more acidic, glaciers are melting, and wildfires are burning down our natural forests, but we don’t make any major changes. Why is this happening? What will it take for us to make any meaningful change? Or will we die out like the people in the history books?
I think that people don’t like change and climate change requires a lot of it on our part. We are just like the Norse. We won’t change even when it threatens to literally kill us and everyone we know. They refused to eat fish and only ate beef, so they could be more like the people they wanted to be like. In the end it didn’t matter that they were starving- they still refused to change their ways. Will we be like this too? Refusing to embrace reality and continue to hold on to our poisonous ways?
Only time will tell.
On a side note some researchers did a study that was published in 2002 in Europhysics News to determine if they actually didn’t eat any fish. If you want to read it I linked it below. It turns out that they did start to convert to other sources of food including fish. This makes the story even better though. They realized their mistake and started to make a change, but they were too late and still died off.
The Ice Watch gives people a very real and personal experience with climate change. This art piece was one of the most influential to me personally just because you could physically see the change happening in front of you. The art is somewhat science based because it is an actual piece of ice, but it is primarily aesthetic. The art can easily make people reflect on climate change just by looking and realizing that even these small piece of ice melt very fast and that the ones we can’t see much be melting so much quicker. I think this is also a huge tool for awareness because most people wouldn’t have any idea what the numbers mean or even able to fathom how fast ice is melting. This brings the issue straight to the people so people don’t have to seek out the issue which is difficult for most. It is also a call to discussion because of the nature of this art which is very impactful and different, so people will start to think and have an example when talking about climate change. This art doesn’t have a direct call to action, but I can see many people changing their behaviors because it is so influential and profound. The art itself will melt anyways so that doesn’t have any environmental impact, but the collecting of the ice would use some sort of machine that would likely produce carbon emissions. In the end, I do think that the impact out ways the environmental cost of showing the art even if it is a one time thing.
I think that most people would agree that any type of loss is difficult to overcome. Cultural loss is no different. This is especially true when you lose your culture through no fault of your own. This could be seen similarly to a young child finding out that their parents are divorcing- this isn’t the child’s fault but it impacts them nonetheless. In today’s world this cultural loss is occurring because of the rapid change of our environment. The “parents” in this situation are the developed countries and large corporations and the “child” is the Indigenous people who are facing the consequences of the parents mistreatment of the environment even though they had nothing to do with the problem. It is then up to the parents to find a solution to the problem in a way that helps restore the child to its previous status. However, it would be up to the more technologically advanced societies to help developing countries to evolve in a way that skips to the idea of preserving the environment instead of abusing it. This would allow everyone, no matter their contribution to climate change, to help in the reversal of this process. It saddens me to think about the people who have had to relocate their lives because their homes have been lost to the sea. There is no going back for them and it is unforgivable that the world has come to money and convenience over someone else’s entire life. I think people are still oblivious to the damage that we have caused to our world and we still need to better educate ourselves on what is happening to other people as a direct cause of our actions. We can try to restore their culture and help them but I fear it is an imperfect method of apologizing for destroying everything about their lives.
Like everything in life people want to give a name to what they see around them and many times we can’t agree on what to call it. The world we live in today is no different: Anthropocene, Chthulucene, Misanthropocene just to name a few. In a world defined by the actions of humans it seems appropriate to give the credit to us humans, but is that too anthropocentric? Some argue that it is the “ultimate act of apex species self-aggrandizement.” However, I would disagree because humans name everything after themselves: countries, towns, their own children, so why should we stop now? If we accept that humans have changed the world maybe we can realize that it is too our responsibility to fix all the problems we have created before it is too late.
I never realized that language could be such a barrier to effecting the kind of change we need, but if you stop and think about it, it makes sense. We can’t save our planet if everyone isn’t on the same page. It was encouraging to see that people all over the world are being educated on how they can help, but not everyone has an equal part in the solution. We can recycle bottles after using them, but if we stopped using plastic bottles and converted over to reusable ones that would be a much larger difference. We don’t need everyone, even if it would help, to contribute to saving the planet. We should instead focus on the largest causes and work down from there. The most powerful people need to be educated and persuaded to work actively to the cause. Some won’t and that is what it is, but we shouldn’t waste time because for every person that opposes change there is another who can be convinced. If we need to provide an incentive and that should be okay too. In this case the ends will be justified. The most powerful business and countries need to be the primary leaders and show that they can indeed contribute to the “greater good”. Especially because time isn’t on our side.
Extreme weather, ocean acidification, habitat loss, rapid glacial melt, and pollution-who is to blame? On one extreme we have Lynn White who proposes that we can assign blame, and to him it’s not that complicated-Judeo-Christians. Paganism was replaced by Christianity during and before the middle ages. This loss of this fundamental belief in nature possessing spirits and existing on an equal level as humans has a very profound effect on the world. The first and most important is that scientists from the 13th century and all the way to Newton claimed to have religious motivation for their works. This is a very shaky claim because we know that people will say almost anything to be safe and accepted. Humans learn this early in life when just trying to make friends and be accepted as children. Mr. White’s argument rests tenuously on this claim, but to give him a fighting chance we’ll accept it. If that is true we need to look deeper and analyze what it is that Christians think about nature. Through the science and technology that Christians enlightened the world with we would think that they think they are above nature and believe we can exploit the world for solely our own grains. Lynn White gives reason to this by quoting the Bible which says that God gave humans dominion over the world and, therefore, elevating us above nature. This would seem to have the effect of humans losing sight of how interconnected we are with nature resulting in its exploitation. In the end he made his argument and the world has moved on, not caring who is to blame but still continuing on in the same way as before.
Just as a coin has two sides we have one of the biggest religious figures alive today weighing in on climate change- Pope Francis. He makes many of the same points Lynn White makes about our world and its current situation, but he comes with a different field of expertise. If he was arguing against the claims of Lynn White it would come down to the fact that, “an inadequate presentation of Christian anthropology gave rise to a wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world.” The end. Nonetheless, that is not the point that Pope Francis is making. What I like about his book, Laudato Si, is that it not only brings up the issues that we are facing today in terms of climate change, but he also gives us advice on how we can overcome these challenges which, in my opinion, is the most important step in resolving an issue. It seems that too many times people just complain about an issue, but have to real solution or means of addressing the problem they have.
However, in the end they both reach the same conclusion- and to quote Pope Francis, the Earth is turning into “an immense pile of filth” and humans are the ones to blame.
An Honors Colloquium in Environmental Arts and Humanities