ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF AFRICA, OCEANIA AND THE AMERICAS OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM

Anthropology, Weather & Climate Change

(P32)
Visualizing Climate - Changing Futures?
Location British Museum - BP Lecture Theatre
Date and Start Time 27 May, 2016 at 11:30
Sessions 6

Convenors

  • Susanne Hammacher (Übersee-Museum Bremen) email
  • Julie Doyle (University of Brighton) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

How do visual media shape understandings of climate change? What visual language or imagery are used by various communities to address climate change? Multi-format contributions will establish a creative dialogue between science, art, media and culture to explore visualizations of climate change.

Long Abstract

How do visual media shape understandings of climate change? What visual language or imagery are used by various communities to communicate and address climate change? By exploring how visual tools, participatory strategies, pictorial narratives or social media are used by news media, local communities or artists, this panel will examine how climate change is made culturally meaningful across a range of visual and cultural practises. Inviting multi-media format contributions, this practice based panel thus aims to establish a creative and collaborative dialogue between science, art, media and culture. In doing so, we will explore how visualizations help shape audience responses to climate change, and how these can be better deployed in the move towards sustainable climate-changed futures.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Climate Visuals: An evidence-based resource for visual climate change communication

Authors: Adam Corner (Climate Outreach)  email

Short Abstract

Climate Visuals is an evidence-based online resource for visual climate change communication. Based on research involving thousands of citizens in the UK, US and Germany, the website centres on seven key principles which I will discuss during this presentation.

Long Abstract

Every day, thousands of images of climate change are shared around the world. But while research on the verbal and written communication of climate change has proliferated, our understanding of how people interpret visual images of climate change is limited to a much smaller number of academic studies, which do not provide much in the way of practical guidance for communicators. As a result, the iconography of climate change has remained relatively static. Climate Visuals is an evidence-based online resource for visual climate change communication. Based on research involving thousands of citizens in the UK, US and Germany during 2015, the website centres on seven key principles for visually communicating climate change. It contains a growing, interactive library of images to provide inspiration and guidance for journalists, campaigners, bloggers and anyone else using imagery to communicate about climate change.

During this presentation I will describe and explore the key findings from the Climate Visuals research, showcase the website, and call for a more evidence-based approach to visual climate change communication.

All images are categorised to reflect the different aims communicators may have and captioned with an explanation of why they were chosen, with many available to download and use directly in blogs, articles and campaigns.

Photography and Climate Change: Everyday Stories from Stockholm

Author: Tom Buurman (Stockholm University)  email

Short Abstract

How do young adults in urban environments think about and visualize climate change? Using photographs taken by 10 residents in Stockholm this presentation tells the ‘climate stories’ of young adults, and shows how climate change is rendered culturally meaningful on the level of the everyday.

Long Abstract

How do young adults in urban environments think about and visualize climate change? That is the question that I will engage with in this visual presentation. Cities are characterized by a high density of cultural flows and media saturation. If climate change indeed can be found 'everywhere' as a cultural phenomenon, as has been suggested in the recent cultural turn in social science research on climate change, it becomes interesting to explore this in such places. The level of the everyday is of particular interest, as it exactly here where the potential and foundations for broader social change are shaped. As part of my PhD project, I asked 10 residents to capture climate change in their everyday lives by taking photographs. In this way, voice is given to the 'climate stories' of these individuals, which have been further explored using qualitative interviews. The photographs visualize how climate change is rendered culturally meaningful on the level of the everyday, as it receives its meaning through its association with a diversity of subjects and objects. Different thoughts, imaginaries, concerns, values, norms, practices, and actions about climate change surface in the material, which highlights the ways in which the idea of climate change is used for interpretation and mobilization. Using a multimedia slideshow consisting of the photographs and passages from the interviews, I reiterate the central aspects of these climate stories, and in this way demonstrate the potential of visual methodologies to engage with an idea that essentially cannot be 'seen' in the same way as the weather.

Photography and the Oil Sands: Connecting Climate Change to Spatiality

Author: Laura Alfaro (Carleton University)  email

Short Abstract

Responses to climate change within Canadian society are heavily influenced by notions of space. Edward Burtynsky’s photography of oil industry activity illustrates visual culture’s potential for increasing understandings about the relationship between climate change and spatiality.

Long Abstract

The tar sands oil project, located in the northern part of Alberta, Canada is situated on the largest known reservoir of bitumen (a form of crude oil) in the world. This energy project, which employs a highly polluting and carbon-intensive oil process, occupies a central role in national climate change discussions. Although the connection between high greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands and climate change has been well-established, the debate surrounding measures to control these emissions remains contentious. I argue the hesitation to adopt more urgent measures against oil sand emissions, while usually filtered through an economic lens, is also heavily influenced by popular notions of the Canadian landscape as vast and uninhabited. These understandings are widely reflected in visual culture—from famous paintings of the past to contemporary aerial photography, including Edward Burtynsky's oil sands photography. Burtynsky's work, which situates oil industry activities within the context of a vast Canadian landscape, illustrates visual culture's potential for creating increased awareness about the relationship between environmental damage and spatiality, as well as the way these understandings shape public responses to the connection between the oil industry and climate change.

Artwash and Influence: Photography and Climate Change in the Prix Pictet

Author: Julia Peck (University of Gloucestershire)  email

Short Abstract

This paper argues that the Prix Pictet photography prize, whilst probably provoking a range of audience responses, also risks generating complacency in ‘special publics’.

Long Abstract

The Prix Pictet, a photography prize that is in its sixth cycle, foregrounds multiple sustainability issues with a view to both showing the impact of various environmental concerns (including climate change) as well as addressing how new sustainable living patterns might emerge. The prize aims to be prestigious, drawing upon the expertise of notable international photography curators, written contributions of various notable writers and scholars, including Slavoz Zizek and Simon Schama, and prestigious photographers including Allan Sekula, Gideon Mendel and John Gossage. The Prix Pictet, then, can be seen to be negotiating complex territory. It addresses sustainability explicitly (although not rigorously) whilst also quietly ensuring social prestige for its sponsor. Pictet is a Swiss investment bank and this prizes helps to raise awareness of its sustainability investment fund. This paper, then, aims to explore the potential effects and affects of such an exhibition, sponsored as it is by the proliferation of international capital. Following Mel Evans, this paper will argue that the exhibition is as much for 'special publics' or 'opinion leaders' (those who have the potential to influence Pictet and other organisations) that sustainability issues are being addressed and supported by this part of the investment banking sector. Moreover, in utilising art that explicitly addresses sustainability, the suggestion is made that myriad other publics are also doing the same. Whilst the impact of such exhibitions is likely to be diverse there is a risk here of complacency in that something, enough, is already being done to address climate change.

Encountering climate change through immersive and interactive environments in museum spaces'

Author: Irida Ntalla (City University London )  email

Short Abstract

The paper reveal findings from a research study data conducted in the ‘High Arctic’ immersive installation at National Maritime Museum in London. The installation has no images, photographs and information panels with an aim to take the visitors in a personal journey on issues of climate change.

Long Abstract

The paper reveals findings from a research study data conducted in the 'High Arctic' immersive installation at National Maritime Museum in London. 'High Arctic' installation lies in the intersections of art and science with no images, photographs and information panels with an aim to take the visitors in a personal journey on issues of climate change. In order to render these issues visible to the public not only resources of the social and natural sciences but also those of art are demanded (Latour, 2010). The installation invites audiences to be moved through non-linear stories and narratives enduing embodied, affective and personal experiences to arise. Movements and encounters trigger emotions as changes in feeling and thoughts; leading to affects as transitions (Massumi, 2002). The ability to affect and to be affected is inherent to emotions as well as body movements. Interactive art approaches stimulate immersion characterized by diminishing distance from what is shown with the ability to heighten emotional investments in it (Popper, 2006). Can these encounters integrate intuitive experiences and productive space for transformating the visitors' relationship with the given debates? How audience perceives the installation's resistance to representation of climate change? The paper exposes audiences' responses when immersed in the interactive installation revealing imagination and narratives related to ongoing social discussions.

Keywords: interactivity, immersion, climate change, affect

Visualizing Climate Change inside the Museum: Objects, Art, and Exhibitions

Authors: Gerald McMaster (Ontario College of Art and Design University)  email
Iris Edenheiser (Reiss-Engelhorn-Museums Mannheim)  email

Short Abstract

Exhibitions, as more-than-visual media, provide wider dissemination of issues surrounding climate change. Focusing on the Arctic and Amazonia, this paper describes how Indigenous material culture and the works of contemporary Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists are addressing climate change.

Long Abstract

The Arctic and Amazonia are environmentally sensitive areas that have required specific human adaptations, while also spurring the creative imagination. Europeans historically viewed these regions as realms of pure and pristine nature, whereas their Indigenous inhabitants have always understood these environments to be populated with spiritual entities in constant communication with humans. Both regions have been zones of contact — meeting, clashing, contradiction, and entanglement — between Indigenous peoples and outsiders. Although the regions are geographically remote, they have recently come into focus because they are environmentally important to debates around climate change, and they are rich in natural resources, thus attracting greater national and corporate interest.

Drawing upon a Canadian-German cooperative exhibition project aimed at bringing these two areas together, this paper explores the ways in which objects from world culture collections, as well as Indigenous and non-Indigenous contemporary artists, address issues of climate change in and about the Arctic and Amazonia. One of the main questions is how Indigenous ecologies of these areas are being explored. Objects in a museum display can trigger a sensual response, drawing largely upon their visual impact. And artists are facilitating new ways of seeing, hearing, feeling and tasting how we understand the land and the effects of climate change. Whereas European and Euro-American artists and scientists have a long history of collaboration, Indigenous artists have now entered the debate. In addition, museums are contributing their voices to this topic with exhibitions that provide wider dissemination while serving as effective vehicles for public dialogue.

Identifying the aesthetics of a cultural shift away from oil

Author: Mel Evans  email

Short Abstract

Taking a broad and critical view this paper will consider examples from the arts, design and technology to extrapolate stories and flavours of how the world is changing in order to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

Long Abstract

Our experience of the fossil fuel era is shaped by the aesthetics of oil and its by-products: the shimmering surface of plastic, the nauseating odour of petrol, the wind-whipping speed of travel. In the wake of the Paris climate talks, insiders from the US coal industry described themselves as "the new slave-traders in the eyes of history", perfectly summing up the cataclysmic shift in motion as societies reconfigure their relationships to fossil fuels. These changes are driven by the imperative of climate action, and in themselves exhibit a range of aesthetic responses and manifestations of the coming cultural norms of a post-fossil fuel era. Considered phenomenologically, the visual, experiential and sensory aesthetics of a culture beyond oil in some cases evoke excitement and pleasure, in others boredom or disgust. Taking a broad and critical view this paper will consider examples from the arts, design and technology to extrapolate stories and flavours of how the world is changing in order to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Mel Evans is Head of Art and Editorial at Greenpeace UK and is author of Artwash: Big Oil and the Arts. Her writing has featured in several academic journals including Performance Research Journal and Contemporary Theatre Review. She is a graduate of Theatre, Sociology and Anthropology at Glasgow University.

Under The Other's Skin: Creative Conversations for Climate Communication

Authors: Julie Doyle (University of Brighton)  email
David Harradine (Fevered Sleep)  email

Short Abstract

This presentation narrates and performs a critical and creative dialogue between the media/communication scholar, Julie Doyle, and the artist, David Harradine, to explore ways that climate change can be differently visualized, communicated and embodied through creative dialogue and practice.

Long Abstract

Arts engagement with climate change may focus upon the poetic, imaginative, emotional and sensory as a way of unearthing and revealing different ways of seeing, perceiving and understanding our changing climate. Environmental communication scholars typically explore the ways in which climate change is mediated through media and cultural practices, seeking to understand how climate is constructed, communicated and contested in order to facilitate social and political change. How can these different 'ways of seeing' and 'ways of making meaning' be brought together, and what can they learn from each other in the context of climate communication? Reflecting upon the experiences of a Leverhulme Artist in Residence project about climate change, this presentation narrates and performs a critical and creative dialogue between the media/communication scholar, Julie Doyle, and the artist, David Harradine, to explore ways that climate change can be differently visualized, communicated and embodied through creative practice.

Mapping Climate Adaption and Communication: Graphic Design as a Problem Solving Practice

Author: Joanna Boehnert (University of Westminster)  email

Short Abstract

Graphic design supports understanding and action on climate change by visualising alternative scenarios, conceptual propositions and complex intellectual arguments. Two projects demonstrate how graphic design functions as a problem solving practice that facilitates new ways of thinking and doing.

Long Abstract

Different types of visual media work in unique ways to communicate climate change. For example, graphic design can support understanding and action on climate related issues with the use of a combination of words, fonts, photographs, illustrations, maps, diagrams, charts, graphs, timelines, network visualisations, data visualisations, information graphics and other visual strategies. With these tools designers display not only current and historical conditions (such as with photography alone) but they visualise alternative scenarios, conceptual propositions and complex intellectual arguments. With this paper I will review two graphic design projects that map issues of climate change. I will use these to describe specific ways that graphic design works to communicate complex ideas. The first project is Climaps by EMAPS: A Global Issue Atlas of Climate Change Adaptation (a 3-year collaborative project funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union). The Emaps working group published 33 issue-maps on climate change. The second project is my own Mapping Climate Communication (a timeline and a network of actors) that contextualises events, actors, strategies, media coverage and discourses influencing public opinion. This project develops the concept of 'discursive confusion' to illustrate how obscuring rhetoric masks a lack of action on climate change. Both bodies of work respond to communication challenges. Graphic design is a problem solving practice that not only illustrates issues but facilitates new ways of thinking and doing. Both projects demonstrate how graphic designers have a unique ability to make ecological, social and political processes and relationships visible, tangible and accessible.

Keeping it real: concrete visualisation for non-engaged audiences

Author: Adam Nieman (Carbon Visuals )  email

Short Abstract

Most data visualisations assume viewers already understand the significance of the data and are already keen to explore it, but many audiences need a concrete approach – they are not ready to engage with abstract data-vis. Carbon Visuals tells climate data stories to ‘non-engaged’ audiences.

Long Abstract

Data visualisers have two main audiences. 'Engaged' audiences come to the data with prior questions of their own and the data visualiser's job is to make it as easy as possible to explore the data and find answers. But often you want to bring data to a new audience - to viewers with no prior interest in the data (for instance, to bring about behaviour change or to campaign politically). The semiotics of the interaction between viewer and visualisation is very different in this latter case. Non-engaged audiences have very different needs, so different strategies are required. However, the data visualisation community makes few concessions to the needs of non-engaged audiences. In general, data visualisations are made as if for scientists or other 'data stakeholders' even when the target audience is non-engaged.

The main thing lacking from 'abstract' visualisations is a sense of reality. Where engaged audiences see carbon emissions or temperatures or energy demand, non-engaged audiences just see a graph. It is not enough to merely 'know' a number refers to a real, physical quantity; you have to 'feel' it too. This paper examines strategies of 'concrete visualisation' developed by Carbon Visuals and others that give both engaged and non-engaged audiences insight into data and allow viewers to make climate change and its causes meaningful on a personal level. For example, simply representing greenhouse gases as an actual volume of carbon dioxide gas can have a dramatic effect on audience engagement provoking questions and precipitating exploration by non-engaged viewers. www.carbonvisuls.com

Visualising Climate Change: renewable energy and the landscape of 2050

Author: Peter Taylor (Ethos Consultancy)  email

Short Abstract

Between 2000-2003, Ethos developed a widely used virtual reality visualisation tool for the environmental impact of climate change, adaptation and mitigation strategies. The tool has a user interface allowing different strategies and their impacts to be compared.

Long Abstract

In 2001, the Countryside Agency commissioned Ethos to develop a visualisation tool that would be useful for its Community Renewables Initiative with regard to both the impact of climate change - such as sea level rise, and the environmental consequences of different strategies of mitigation and adaptation. A 3D model was developed by Ethos that would allow planners to approach visual impact from different angles and for strategy discussions to look at different technologies, such as wind, biomass and solar, and their implications for landscape, community and biodiversity. An interactive multi-media pack was distributed to all the Countryside Agency offices and a seminar given to an Inter-Agency meeting on climate change in 2003. The production of a variety of responses to climate change and the inclusion of a 'cold futures' scenario led to lively debate on the merits of linear computer projections, the incorporation of natural cycles or potential tipping points, such as changes in warm-water circulation in the North Atlantic. The tool has the potential for local communities to model their own regional environment and policy responses, perhaps involving local 6th forms in computer visualisation, climate dialogues and local issues.

Mapping Climate Change Discourses in Twitter

Author: Sabine Niederer (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

This paper analyses climate change-related Twitter messages (or ‘tweets’) to map the state of climate change debates online.

Long Abstract

This paper analyses climate change-related Twitter messages (or 'tweets') to map the state of climate change debates online, and consider four related climate change discourses: adaptation (to climate change), skepticism (towards the man-made origins and unprecedentedness of climate change), mitigation (the prevention of further climate change by minimizing its causes), and conflict (here taken to mean political unrest relatable to climate change vulnerability).

Here, I capture a year's worth of English-language climate-related tweets, exploring the network of climate change content. Twitter evidently does not produce 'climate science' but instead both puts scientific research into circulation while enabling up-close, located and platform-literate engagements that assess the resonance of sub-discourses within the broader online discussion of climate change. This paper does so in two mappings.

First, so-called keyword profiles, zoom-in views on particular discourses within the broader issue of climate change, enable a comparative view on the main actors and most-shared content per discourse. Secondly, a visualization of hashtag clusters that are dedicated to sub-issues, casualties and events present a time slice presenting the status quo of climate change, one that is not merely stating "what's happening" but rather serves as a progress report of the issue. Here, a close reading of the data shows that the tweets address both where we are with climate change adaptation and what is at stake. Combined, these case studies aim to unpack and give analytic complexity to important discourses within the issue of climate change.

The Helpless Polar Bear and the Suffering Child, or the Resilient Victim? (Re)negotiating Anthropocentrism and Biocentrism in the Media: A Case Study on Two Multimodal Climate Change Frames

Authors: Renée Moernaut (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)  email
Luc Pauwels (University of Antwerp)  email

Short Abstract

Our research aims to demonstrate how Euro-American anthropocentrism keeps shaping the narrative underlying seemingly differential climate change frames in the media, while being challenged by emerging biocentric viewpoints. This is done by means of a visual-verbal qualitative framing analysis.

Long Abstract

The future of our climate largely depends on our conceptions and engagement, which are, among others, influenced by media frames (Graber, 1988). Various frames determine the debate, directing our attention to concerns like 'Environmental Justice' (the disproportionate suffering of 'the South') or 'Circle of Life' (man's impact on the Earth system). Nevertheless, most of these seemingly differential viewpoints can be situated, on a deeper level, within the same anthropocentric paradigm (Pepermans & Maeseele, 2014), which promotes ('Western') human superiority or development. Non-hegemonic biocentric values, like collaboration or moderation, are usually silenced (Dryzek, 1997). Alternative media, however, are more likely to reproduce the latter (Harcup, 2014).

Little research has addressed the visual - let alone multimodal - (sub)frames of climate change (e.g., O'Neill, 2013), particularly in alternative media. Therefore, conducting a multimodal qualitative framing analysis (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006; Van Gorp, 2006), we discuss the visual realization of the Environmental Justice (EJ) and the Circle of Life (CoL) (sub)frames. Our corpus encompasses three mainstream northern Belgian newspapers and one alternative website (February 2012-February 2014; n=731). Our results demonstrate that the mainstream EJ frame and the mainstream CoL frame are highly similar. Both decontextualize the problems, focusing on individual causes or consequences or situating ('Western') man above the victims. Icons as the polar bear or the 'suffering child' illustrate this. Contrariwise, the alternative view does contextualize. Emphasizing equality, it encourages deeper levels of engagement. Depictions of victim-agents, for instance, highlight responsibilities beyond the emission of GHG.

Domesticating the oil sands: A semiotic analysis of visual food analogies

Author: Adam Thomlison (Carleton University)  email

Short Abstract

Food analogies have become a theme in the promotional material of companies extracting oil from Canada's oil sands, with the products being compared to yogurt, cupcakes, and peanut butter. The aim seems to be to domesticate these products in the public eye as the extraction debate continues.

Long Abstract

Comparisons to food have become a theme in the promotional material of companies working in Canada's oil sands, with the products being compared to yogurt, cupcakes, coffee, and peanut butter. The desired effect seems to be to domesticate the products in the eyes of a public still weighing the benefits of oil-sands development. However, opponents argue the comparisons are a deliberate miscommunication of the ecological reality. Domestication theory looks at the practices involved in incorporating innovations into users' lives; the term refers to outside innovations being brought in to the domestic sphere, and food is a strong symbol of domestic comfort. This study undertakes a visual social-semiotic analysis of four ads by companies involved in oil-sands extraction to examine their use of food analogies in the debate over the resource's development, and to situate that use in the field of visual environmental communication. It looks specifically at instances where there is a visual representation of food in place of, or in tandem with, oil sands.

How do visualizations inform sense-making of sustainable futures? Experiences and reflections from Norrköping Decision Arena

Authors: Therese Asplund (Department of Thematic Studies)  email
Victoria Wibeck (Department of Thematic Studies - Environmental Change)  email

Short Abstract

How do visualizations inform sense-making of sustainable futures? In this presentation, we give examples from a focus group study of lay sense-making of societal transformations towards sustainability and asks in what ways visualization may support or hinder dialogues on sustainable futures.

Long Abstract

The climate change communication (CCC) research literature has for long suggested that it is time to think differently about the way climate change is communicated. Traditionally, climate change has often been viewed and communicated as an abstract environmental global phenomena. Recommendations from research literature include: pinpoint the concrete; emphasize the local, and use visualizations to make climate change and all its aspects tangible and visible.

But what happens when climate change communication takes on new forms? What new communication challenges might arise then? How do lay and stakeholder audiences make sense of new framings and new tools for visualizing climate change impacts and responses?

This presentation explores how visualizations inform audience sense-making of climate and environmental change. It takes its departure from Norrköping Decision Arena - an arena with the ability to show data, graphics and simulation results simultaneously and in direct comparison. We give examples from a focus group study of lay sense-making of societal transformations towards sustainability and asks in what ways visualization may support or hinder dialogues on sustainable futures.

Envisaging nature: Creative communication of climate change messages using visual artists and school children

Author: Bruce Huett (Cambridge University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper describes and analyses projects involving artists working with primary school children in their local environment. It will demonstrate how using visual media creatively can enhance the way children relate to changing nature both in their own country and through links with children abroad

Long Abstract

Although there is literature on communicating climate change messages e.g. (O'Neill S.J; Smith N.W (2014), Moser,S; Dilling L (2007), Doyle J (2011)) there is limited literature on using visual artists to work creatively with children on environmental issues in a primary school setting.

This paper aims to fill some of this gap by describing and analysing outreach initiatives from the climate histories projects associated with the Social Anthropology Division at Cambridge University.

One of the objectives of these initiatives was to stimulate thinking about global responsibility as part of a pattern of lifelong learning. These projects were aimed at sowing the first seeds in this process.

A range of artists: painters, sculptors, poets, storytellers and illustrators were involved across several schools and age groups. They used a range of visual tools and participatory strategies to unlock the creativity of the children. The sessions were designed carefully with the teaching staff and with reference to the curriculum.

Later projects developed the concept to include an international dimension which involved exchange of images, videos and experiences between children in different cultures in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

The paper will describe the development of the concepts and the overall structure of the projects. Two examples will be described in detail including ethnographic material on the children's experience.

It will also analyse how this form of educational interaction can embed concepts of the environment and environmental change within the children and, through the establishment of communication networks, within their wider community

Thin Ice: Addressing whales, beaver and the moral realm of climate change through community collaborative filmmaking in western Alaska

Author: Sarah Elder (University at Buffalo, State University of New York)  email

Short Abstract

What does an average winter temperature increase of 3.3°C (6°F) over the past 60 years in western Alaska mean? Using a community collaborative approach to ethnographic filmmaking, village participants and film director seek to understand and represent warming in a Yup’ik Eskimo village.

Long Abstract

What does an average winter temperature increase of 3.3°C (6°F) over the past 60 years in western Alaska mean? Using a community collaborative approach to ethnographic filmmaking, village participants and film director seek to understand and to represent this warming in the Yup'ik Eskimo village of Emmonak, Alaska on the coast of the Bering Sea. While residents see images on cable television of melting glaciers and stranded polar bears (in regions other than their own), they say they are not familiar with climate science or generalizations of global warming. For the film record, they choose to speak of what they know for fact: the early return of swallows, houses falling into the river, the deadly dangers of thin river ice and the invasions of damaging new species. They present as well their intimacy with tundra and place. Film participants articulate the grim consequences of human actions stemming from the mistreatment of wild game or the act of not sharing abundance, and draw links between individual human action and the environment's bounty or lack of it.

In the Yup'ik language the term "ellam yua" can mean weather, consciousness, universe or spirit of the universe. Yup'ik indigenous knowledge teaches that the world is changing because "it is following its people". "People are changing, the weather is changing". Village elders express a clear reciprocity between right human behavior and the natural world and explain that the cause of climate change is grounded ultimately in a moral realm. Film excerpts with paper.

Engaging the disengaged with extreme weather events

Author: Peter Walton (University of Oxford)  email

Short Abstract

Linking high impact weather events with a changing climate could help to engage many of the disengaged Americans, but how best to communicate the science? This paper reports on a study to use local weathercasters to help communicate the science of extreme events and to help engage the disengaged.

Long Abstract

The American public is often perceived as being either ambivalent or cynical about climate change. Yet recent studies show that the landscape is far more nuanced with a spectrum of attitudes existing from alarmist to denialist. Whilst the extreme groups will always be hard to reach, the middle groups who are currently disengaged have the potential to be engaged.

Extreme weather events and their subsequent impacts have been seen as providing a context with which to bridge the gap between future climate change with the recognition that climate change is happening now. What is not clear though is how best to communicate the science in a way that is trusted, informative and provides the ability to act.

This paper reports on a recent project that tested the use of local weathercasters as mechanisms to communicate information about recent extreme weather events in the United States. Scripts and visuals were generated to ensure scientific accuracy whilst still being accessible to the public. The resulting weathercasts were then tested on focus groups in Chicago and Miami.

Visual arts inquiry into climate change: Towards a different subjectivity and paradigm shift

Author: Roslyn Taplin (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)  email

Short Abstract

Visual artists addressing climate change can be seen to be contributing to the production of a different subjectivity, a new minor literature and paradigm shift. This paper discusses recent contemporary artists’ approaches and my own studio inquiry.

Long Abstract

Adopting O'Sullivan's view of contemporary art practice using Deleuze's and Guattari's concepts, visual artists can be seen to be contributing to the production of a different subjectivity and a new minor literature in addressing social and community issues. This minor literature differs from the dominant social paradigm or affective signifying regime. As much visual arts studio based inquiry into climate change is focused on producing something new to mediate the urgency of greenhouse warming, following from this, climate change art may be seen as 'the minor' - with new ethico-aesthetic compositions of affect that pave a way for future paradigm shift. This paper discusses recent contemporary artists' approaches to climate change together with my own approach in contributing to this minor literature. My creative focus is on the impacts of climate change and the social and political barriers to its mitigation with strands of inquiry including: how may the considerable amount of text from climate science and negotiations be addressed and interpreted, and how may a different subjectivity be crystallised within viewers to search within their thought processes and emotional responses, to summon within them a personal response to the work, and some realisation of future implications of climate predictions and impending impacts, and the intergenerational ethics of inaction?

Sealevel Rise as Drama: Transforming the Threat from Climate Change in Kiribati

Authors: Wolfgang Kempf (University of Goettingen)  email
Elfriede Hermann (University of Goettingen)  email

Short Abstract

Focusing on a drama on sealevel rise performed by a school class in the Pacific atoll state Kiribati, we argue that performing arts enable Kiribati‘s citizens to transform the threat from climate change into something manageable, enacting a vision of future survival for land and nation alike.

Long Abstract

Global warming, as projected by the climate sciences, will likely bring profound environmental changes to the Pacific islands, one familiar scenario being that of sealevel rise. Atoll states like Kiribati are deemed to be especially vulnerable, in light of this scenario (and others as well). Ever since the citizens of Kiribati were first confronted with powerful discourses on the consequences of climate change, they have responded with a series of coping measures. One involves the performing arts. In this presentation, we have chosen to examine a drama on sealevel rise performed by a college-level school class (a videoclip of the performance will be included as well). This piece begins by portraying the existential threat to Kiribati posed by rising waters. It then suggests a possible way out, a way that, if taken, would head off this looming worst-case-scenario: the global community must heed Kiribati's urgent call for them to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The message is that while climate change and its consequences undoubtedly pose a challenge to those living in an atoll state, they are equally challenging to the industrial states themselves. Based on this case study, we argue that performing arts enable Kiribati's citizens to transform the threat from climate change into something manageable, enacting a vision of future survival for land and nation alike.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.