Friday, November 2, 2012

Art, climate change and politics

Girls outside the UWS Whole Foods raising $ for the Red Cross by selling homemade cookies. It was nice to give them a dollar and let them keep the cookies instead of my usual dollar to hopeless homeless people.
The coming together of people to support the city they love has been very moving to me
  • This is an amazing, heart breaking account from Jerry Saltz, of loss and heroism to flank the stories of trying to help the elderly & infirm victims of the Hurricane Sandy disaster or my own posts about the impact on animals, as the fish and birds in the Tri-State region. All martyrs to climate change denial. 
  • Art is like a beating heart that lives outside a body. And now it has become disconnected and trashed. a bunch of those hearts have been ripped from those bodies by the tidal surges and sea level rise of global warming driven by fossil fuel production. I am grateful to Jerry for being one of her caretakers.
  • As he wrote, it's easy for us to knock the gallery system, dealers, etc, But these are our blood kin. I was esp upset about Printed Matter, an institution-cum-museum of alternate art and a real tragedy. 
I woke still haunted by the implications of Jerry's essay. What haunts me is the combination of the cultural impact of climate change and the personal implications of the rise of the right. They are inseparable.

In 2009, I was an official observer for the University of Colorado at Boulder, where I am an affiliate, for the United Nations IPCC meetings at the Bella Center in Copenhagen.
I blogged about my experiences and observations:

The most moving of all the presentations then was from the island nation of Tuvalu

To standing room only, they held a session about the loss of their homeland to sea level rise, with flowers, dancing, song, giving us all necklaces and impassioned pleas to hold the island nations in mind as we discussed climate change.

There was a lot going on then, but one of the actions I was involved with was an ethical action group, led by Don Brown who had worked on toxic waste sites in the Clinton administration. We crafted the press releases for the press conference and one of the points I focused on was language in the IPCC documents to the effect that we must protect the cultural treasure of impacted nations, such as Tuvalu, as much as we concern ourselves with economic sustainability. I vividly recall crafting phrases for that press release, to the effect that culture is what holds a people together and allows them to be resilient.

I had been scheduled to give our own press conference, on the work Jim & I were doing as a precursor to Fish Story: "Gulf to Gulf," when the police cordoned off the Bella Center and began beating demonstrators in the City of Copenhagen. That was followed in swift reprisal, by a flood of corporate funding to seed global doubt over global warming, drown out the island nations and scientists and culminating with the present Citizens United decision which has allowed one party to, in effect, precipitate a corporate take over coup of the United States.

Previously, in work with Jim White, of INSTAAR who enabled my attendance at the iPCC, we had spoken about our horror over, and generated visuals from, studying the projected global impacts of climate change refugee migrations. Our horror was over the human cost.

Most of the attention to the impact of of Hurricane Sandy in NYC has gone to Wall St and transportation to get back to work and return to normal life. What people are missing is that this is the new normal. NYC is also an island "nation" in the same peril, with the same implications as the fate of Tuvalu. And NYC is the canary, singing for all she is worth about the peril we all face. Jerry is a good microphone for that song.

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