Art demonstrates the threat caused by climate change to non-believers

Viewers observe Olafur Eliasson's Ice Watch outside the Tate Modern gallery in Bankside, London on Dec. 17, 2018.

Photo courtesy of Studio Olafur Eliasson GMBH

Viewers observe Olafur Eliasson's Ice Watch outside the Tate Modern gallery in Bankside, London on Dec. 17, 2018.

Carla Vreeland

For years, art has been used as a tool to influence people’s ideas and perspectives on problems affecting their society. Today is no different. 

Climate change is a controversial and highly divisive topic in politics and the media. Many people see the scientific evidence of climate change and use art in order to spread the word to those unaware of the issue. 

According to data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, “Greenland lost an average of 286 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016, while Antarctica lost about 127 billion tons of ice per year during the same time period.”

Dr. Christiaan De Beukelaer of the University of Melbourne wrote about the London art installation, Ice Watch created by Olafur Eliasson, which highlights the urgency of the melting Greenlandic ice. The installation’s visual representation made climate change into something tangible. 

“Indeed, conveying the climate emergency through the arts can be an effective way to make people understand what’s at stake,” De Beukelaer said. 

Artists Mel Chin and Xavier Cortada have also utilized art to convey the effects of climate change, according to The New York Times. Chin designed an app that lets the user view New York City after the projected water level rise by 2110. Cortada created decorative yard signs displaying how many feet of melted glaciers must rise before the property is underwater. Both works offered a different approach to spread the importance of battling the warming of the planet.

Though the decline in sea ice, warming oceans and melting glaciers may seem hopeless, art can still bring a sense of hope. 

A study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology at the 2015 United Nations climate change conference in Paris concluded that two pieces of upcycled art dealing with biodiversity left the conference’s visitors feeling enthusiastic and inspired to take action on climate change, according to Tom Jacob of the online magazine Pacific Standard. 

Sophomore Maggie Schneider of Wall said that climate change is a serious issue that needs to be addressed by global citizens and leaders and that art can be used to address this issue. 

“Art can inspire and motivate people to not only spark change from within but to also encourage global leaders and corporations to make a change,” Schneider said.