Art and the Environment

Dear 2050: Entangled Forests

Forests are the most biodiverse habitats on earth. Covering one third of the planet’s land surface, they are home to more than three-quarters of all species on land. They form a vast network of entanglements between millions of life forms and function as important carbon storage, which makes them indispensable to the conservation of biodiversity and the regulation of the global climate.

Dear 2050: Entangled Forests features artistic and scientific works about forests in a changing climate. The exhibition takes us from the last primeval forests of Europe into the depths of the Amazon, explores ghost forests from the past and imagines autonomous trees of the future. What do forests tell us about life and death, about transience and memory, about compassion and identity? Exhibition venues included Bern, Zurich and Lausanne. Read more. Stay tuned for information about an upcoming virtual tour.

Nature Footprints

Nature Footprints is a collection of art from around the world bringing together community stories of climate, conflict, and peace. The collection amplifies the voices of communities directly affected by climate-related conflict, as well as those participating in environmental peace building efforts. It is offered as a gift to anyone working on climate policy — as a platform for reflection and conversation, and as an invitation to consider what these creative pieces have to offer international decision-makers as we continue to work for effective, just, and timely climate policy. See the art and read the stories in these Storybook chapters. Visit the virtual exhibit for the gallery that is adjacent to the conference room where the COP28 climate negotiations are taking place in Dubai.

Nature Footprints is part of Peace@COP28 efforts, emphasizing the critical need to put issues of peace and conflict in the spotlight during climate change negotiations. Learn more:

Environmental Crisis through the Lens of Centralia, Pennsylvania

by Jennifer McCormick, June 6, 2023

Centrailia, Pennsylvania no longer exists in the way I knew it. It is abandoned now. My friends, their families, their generational homes, every local shop, and each familiar sidewalk was demolished after residents faced relocation through eminent domain. Most of that happened in the 1980’s even though the fire under the town began two decades before.

After years of seeking help to extinguish a massive underground coal mine fire burning below the town, weary residents were provided moving costs and asked to relocate. At home and at school, my friends lived with the threat of carbon monoxide gas rising from the fire through fissures in the ground and into their basements, bedrooms and classrooms. Our school bus drove over route 61 everyday, and I’d see steam rising from roadside burr holes made to vent the labyrinth of fire below. I worried the road would buckle and we’d fall down into the mine. Today, this broken stretch is called the graffiti highway by thrill seekers. Read more.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jennifer’s artwork is on display in the Blue Zone at the COP28 conference in Dubai. Her art is featured in both the storybook chapters and the virtual exhibit of the Nature Footprints project.

When the Mississippi Went Dry

by Martin Dunn, April 13, 2023

Did you know the Mississippi went dry last summer? A little research reveals that not only the Big Muddy, but the Rhine, the Po, the Yangtze, and other major world rivers were having similar issues. What do we think a river is? What happens when you go out in your back yard and pour a pitcher full of water on the ground? The water sinks in. It doesn’t run off. And eventually that pitcher of water becomes part of the underground aquifer; that hidden body of fresh water that we have been poking millions of holes in and attempting to pump dry. A river isn’t just what we see running under the bridge. It is that, plus the groundwater, plus the aquifer–a complex interconnected system. So why did the Mississippi run dry? Maybe it’s because US farmers raised almost 16 billion bushels of corn in 2022–almost none of it for human consumption. Five billion bushels went for biofuels and almost all the rest went to feed the animals we consume. And corn takes a lot of water and fertilizer. Sustainable? Hardly. What can we as individuals do? Lots. But…. Read more.