Climate & Culture: Using the Arts to Galvanize the Public on Global Warming
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Center for American Progress
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In recent weeks such popular magazines as Time, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report and The Economist have ran stories featuring climate change. While the public is growing more concerned about the imminent challenges of global warming, they have yet to galvanize around this issue. The abundance of scientific reports that underscore the urgency of curbing greenhouse gas emissions have not spurred the public to demand action. The arts can help assimilate these issues into popular culture where scientific studies have failed to do so. The human imagination has always been a powerful tool for nurturing progress and inspiring action in society. The current response from the public begs the question: Does global warming need more artists tackling the issue?
Please join the Center for American Progress in the first of a series on "Climate & Culture" as we explore this question with a distinguished panel of artists and they discuss their own work in communicating the complex issues and urgency of climate change to the public=
Photojournalist Gary Braasch specializes in environmental issues, biodiversity, field science and climate change. His work has appeared in more than 150 publications, including Time, LIFE, Discover, Audubon, National Wildlife, Smithsonian, Scientific American, Sierra, Orion and National Geographic. His keystone project since 2000 has been World View of Global Warming, the only dedicated photo documentation of the effects of rapid climate change. An exhibit of 30 prints on climate change has been exhibited at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. and at Chicago’s Field Museum. For this Gary has journeyed extensively including to China, Australia, Tuvalu, Antarctica, the Arctic and the great mountains of the world. Gary is also known for action coverage of field science, including volcanoes, forest canopy studies, and Antarctic geologic research. Gary is an active contributor to environmental efforts ranging from forest preservation in his home state of Oregon to international conservation campaigns. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Peabody award-winning filmmaker, activist and educator Judith Helfand is best known for her ability to take the dark, cynical, and intractable world of environmental problems and heedless corporate behavior and make it personal, resonant, highly charged and even entertaining. Along with her filmmaking partner Daniel B. Gold, Helfand formed Toxic Comedy Pictures to create original, entertaining media with a social conscience and a sense of humor. The feature length documentary that launched this enterprise is Blue Vinyl, a film that provided Gold and Helfand and their stellar team of collaborators the chance to experiment with what they have come to call toxic comedy. They balance the serious with the subversive, mixing popular entertainment with corporate accountability. Their forthcoming movie, Melting Planet, tackles the issue of global warming, juxtaposing humor with horror and creating science-made-accessible scenarios featuring dynamic characters scrambling to adapt to the bewildering changes in their ever-warming realities. She is an adjunct professor at New York University’s undergraduate film and television program and is also co-founder of Working Films, a non-profit organization based in North Carolina that is dedicated to linking documentary filmmaking to long-term social change. Helfand and her films have won numerous awards and prestigious nominations over the past decade.
Kim Stanley Robinson is an award-winning author of science fiction. His work often explores the interaction of humans, technology and their environment, as in his best known work, the Mars Trilogy, which chronicles human colonization of Mars, and the Three Californias Trilogy, which explores the proper balance of technology and society. Robinson is currently working on a series exploring the consequences of abrupt climate change both on a global and personal level. Two volumes of the near-future trilogy known as the Science in the Capital series have been published to-date: Forty Signs of Rain (2004) and Fifty Degrees Below (2005). The third, as yet untitled, volume is due to be published in 2007. Robinson received a B.A. in literature from the University of California, San Diego, a M.A. in English from Boston University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of California, San Diego. He participated in the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program in 1995. His books have been published in 22 languages and have garnered numerous awards including the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, the Asimov, John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award.
Nicole St. Clair is the Director of Communications for the Climate Campaign at Environmental Defense, where, in addition to promoting the Ad Council campaign, she is focused on developing the concept that a carbon cap is necessary for U.S. global economic competitiveness. She served in a similar capacity for the Natural Resources Defense Council last year, and before that was Director of Strategic Communications for Ceres, a coalition of environmental organizations and investment funds. There she worked to get some of the first financial media coverage of global warming. Before joining Ceres, she worked for The Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health, where she developed and co-chaired a statewide initiative on early childhood education that resulted in new funding and community partnerships for early childhood programs in Michigan.
Ana Unruh Cohen is the Director for Environmental Policy at the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining American Progress, she was an aide to Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-MA). Ana handled a variety of energy and environmental issues pending before the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Resources Committee. Ana originally joined Congressman Markey’s staff as the 2001-2002 Science and Technology Policy Fellow sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Meteorological Society. She has a B.S. in Chemistry from Trinity University and received her Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.