Because we are the generation most impacted by the climate problem, we, as young people, are in the most significant position to fight it. We must act quickly because we are the last generation capable of halting global warming before it is too late. According to experts, we only have ten years to prevent the climate crisis from causing irreversible damage. Over the past couple of years, millions of people have come out to support protests organized by young people worldwide, resulting in the world’s largest climate change movement ever. One way to educate people about climate change is through art. By involving emotions and the senses, art allows people to connect to big ideas that are often difficult to understand. Art can help people understand complex issues like climate change.
“Huh?” That was my first thought when I heard art on climate change could be created. But now that I think about it, I understand. Art causes us to think, helps us feel and figure out how we feel, sparks conversations, and provides us with ideas. Artists can say difficult things to people through their work that would be difficult to understand if said verbally. Artists can use their position to communicate with people who speak different languages. Someone’s reaction to art can cause them to care, be determined, and act.
The scientific estimates of how many degrees the world’s temperature will rise, how many parts per million of carbon dioxide will be in the air, and how many feet the sea level will increase are terrifying. People who do not believe in climate change often advise us to relax and enjoy ourselves. If we could disregard the impacts of climate change and hide our heads in the sand, life would be much easier. Climate change is the most challenging issue for future generations right now. We need somewhere to begin. It might count as art.
Art’s power to influence social movements has long been acknowledged; climate change advocacy is no exception. Even though we know about climate change, “it hasn’t registered in our guts; it isn’t part of our culture,” writes environmentalist and author Bill McKibben in his essay “What the World Needs Now is Art, Sweet Art.” In response to the AIDS crisis, an “amazing outpouring of art” had a “real political impact.” But there hasn’t been much art about climate change.
Since the 2005 publication of McKibben’s article, many artists have started addressing climate change in their work. Some artwork created in reaction to climate change is interactive and employs cutting-edge technology, such as time-lapse photography and the internet. Art focusing on climate change may transport viewers to places most people will never experience.
Art can indeed educate, empower, and stimulate the interest of individuals. Art can transform our “Huhs” into “Ahas,” which drives more of us to seek answers to the climate problem we confront.
Written By: Ian Njoroge_ Climate Activist