21 Set CLIMATE CHANGE AND ARTIVISM
Climate change is one of the greatest threats to human rights of our generation, posing a serious risk to the fundamental rights to life, health, food and an adequate standard of living of individuals and communities across the world.
As stated in the 2015 Climate Change and Human Rights report from @unep, anthropogenic climate change is the biggest threat to the natural environment and human societies the world has ever experienced. Its harmful impacts include events that pose a direct danger for human lives and safety, as well as environmental degradation that will undermine access to drinkable water, food, and other key resources that support human life.
The link between the environment and human rights has been debated for years. However, it has long been recognized that a clean, healthy and functional environment is integral to the enjoyment of human rights. Today, there is no doubt that climate change will have a profound effect on the enjoyment of human rights for individuals and communities across the planet.
Several artists have engaged in representing the effects/impact of climate change in their work. In this series, we will present some relevant artistic creations, in particular focusing on the issues raised by the glaciers melting and the risks that this phenomenon caused by global warming will bring. The sea-level rise caused by the glaciers melting may force the coastal communities to abandon their homes. At the same time, the disappearance of glaciers will represent the inability to access water for the populations living on some of the largest mountain chains in the world.
Furthermore, we will display some artworks addressing the lack of access to water and sanitation. This condition is made worse by the effects of climate change. The extreme weather events and changes in water cycle patterns make it harder to access drinking water and increase the competition for this natural resource.
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In this post, we take a closer look at the work of Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations Development Programme in 2019 thanks to his work related to environmental issues.
In this photographic artwork, The glacier melt series 1999/2019, Eliasson created a juxtaposition of the photos of 30 Icelandic glaciers from 1999 and the ones he took only 20 years later, in 2019, of the same locations. These aerial photos document the quick disappearance of vast parts of the glaciers, showing us the worrying and undeniable effects of global warming.
Since the 1900s, many glaciers around the world have been rapidly melting. Human activities are at the root of this phenomenon: carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions have raised temperatures, and as a result, glaciers are rapidly melting.
When this happens, the water stored on land flows into the ocean, contributing to sea-level rise, which produces a cascade of effects.
Rising sea levels increase coastal erosion and elevate storm surge as warming air and ocean temperatures create more frequent and intense coastal storms like hurricanes and typhoons.
As a result, small island nations such as Tuvalu, megacities like Shanghai, Jakarta, and New York and entire countries like Bangladesh and the Netherlands face similar dangers. Today, more than a hundred million people worldwide live within a meter of mean sea level.
Nowadays, numerous communities worldwide rely on the water melting from the glaciers to sustain themselves during dry spells. In different parts of Asia, some people depend on the water flowing down from the Himalayas. Similarly, in La Paz, Bolivia, the water provision comes from Andean glaciers that are now disappearing.
Alarmingly, when saltwater intrudes into freshwater aquifers, it threatens drinking water’s sources, making raising crops problematic, as in the case of Egypt, a country with already little arable land.
With global warming, the ways that these communities used to sustain themselves for thousands of years are now at risk.
In this post, we present two photographs selected by @wateraid to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the recognition of the human rights to water and sanitation in 2020.
Nowadays, water availability is becoming less predictable in many places, and increased incidences of flooding threaten to destroy water points and sanitation facilities and contaminate water sources.
Water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change, as the temperature rises will cause significant changes in the planet’s water cycle. The @ipcc expects water-related disasters to rise across the world. Although the effects will impact all the continents, there is a real risk that low-income countries will enter into a vicious cycle of worsening poverty if they can’t recover from one disaster before the next strikes.
Here’s a brief introduction to the two artists and some of their words about the works:
Collin Sekajugo (b. 1980) is a Ugandan artist who utilizes collage and hand-drawn lines. Sekajugo’s artwork reflects on his social conscience, highlighting the link between art and community in Africa.
About “All on Her”:
“I thought that the model’s portrait would depict the plight of underprivileged women and children while the jerrycan denotes consumerism.”
Serge Attukwei Clottey (b. 1985) is a Ghanaian artist who works across installation, performance, photography and sculpture, exploring personal and political narratives rooted in histories of trade and migration.
About “Tomorrow’s World”:
“Ghana is facing some of the most detrimental consequences from climate change and water shortages. Yet the government does nothing, so I have taken it upon myself to educate through art.”