Climate Commons: a networked conversation about climate change, sustainability, and the Arctic
with Matthew Shanley
November 27, 2006 – February 28, 2007
click here to view the project online
Climate Commons is a conversation between thirteen people who focus on climate change, sustainability, and the Arctic in a wide range of disciplines including a glaciologist, an architect, a journalist, and a comedian. Each author contributes weekly posts about their work, inspirations, discoveries, or questions. Readers can join the conversation by clicking on the comments hex icon and choosing a hex cell to respond to any particular post. As an interdisciplinary collaborative hybrid art/research project, Climate Commons seeks to point to the multiplicity of voices behind the complex environmental concerns and to create connections/analogies/discussion across disciplines, economies, and ideologies.
Sally Bingham, Episcopal Priest
Jock Gill, Carbon Neutral by 2020
Mitchell Joachim, Architect
Jane D. Marsching, Artist
Larry Merculieff, Alaska Native Science Commission
Robert Newman, Comedian
Matt Nolan, Glaciologist
Sarah Rich, WorldChanging
Russell Potter, Historian
Andrew Revkin, Environmental Journalist, New
Matthew Shanley, Artist/Programmer
Juanita Urban-Rich, Windows Around the World
Climate change — alarming or alarmist?
December 3rd, 2006
It’s worth tracking discussions on Weds. Dec 6th, when Senator James Inhofe, the outgoing chairman of the Environment
and Public Works committee, holds a hearing examining media coverage of global warming.
Sen. Inhofe has claimed that catastrophic human-caused warming is a “hoax,” while many climate experts see human-caused warming as the keystone environmental issue of the century. Inhofe had criticized my new book on global and arctic warming, The North Pole Was Here, in a senate floor speech on climate alarmism, while crediting me with questioning some of the overheated coverage this year.
What I’ve been saying is that, amid all the talk of real-time catastrophe or hoax, people should not forget there’s a huge amount of consensus on on the basics: more CO2= warmer world= less ice= higher seas & shifting climate patterns.
click here to read more
— Andrew Revkin
End of a long week
December 2nd, 2006
Finally the week draws to an end and I begin to reflect on the recent activities and look ahead to the coming week. I am the executive director of The Regeneration Project which is (most descriptively) a ministry for the religious community to draw on for support and resources when seeking to find solutions to the problem- potentially catastrophic problem- of climate change. We have an affiliated network of religious leaders from many diverse faiths in 21 states in the US. “A religious response to global warming” operates under the banner of Interfaith Power and Light. Each state program operates autonomously, but in collarboation with the others. Our aim is to reduce the US overall dependency on fossil fuel for energy by example in our memeber congregations. We promote energy efficiency, conservation and use of renewable clean resources for electricity. We ask our member congregations of which there are roughly 2000 to preach about the moral responsibility of religious people to care for God Creation. This means all living things with particular focus on the poor and in addition those living things that cannot speak for themselves.
Crossing Borders–art and activism
December 1st, 2006
I have done several talks and interviews for media about my this project—Climate Commons—and the other works lately and find myself reiterating a desire for artists to throw themselves into the arena of activism and politics. The follow up questions are usually about things like what are the similarities between science and art, or how does this work function as activism, how can art effect a “real” change. Not bad questions, but are they the point? These fields or endeavors are corralled into their rigidly defined pens and only a specialized knowledge pass allows one to enter. Why not move from one to the other, insist on permeable states of being, encourage intersection
Seeing the Arctic
November 27th, 2006
I’m a biological oceanographer by training and most of my research is focused on zooplankton, the little tiny animals in the ocean. Much of my work is done in the Arctic. Two years ago, I was working in the Beaufort Sea and I had the opportunity to develop an education and outreach program. While I was trying to think of what to develop I thought about my feeling, knowledge and impressions of the arctic and I thought about what people say when they hear I am traveling there. This ranges from wonder and excitement to pity. While I can tell people about the light in the arctic at midnight in the summer or blue twilight at noon in the winter or the golden glow in the fall, it’s hard to understand unless you see it. I wanted to develop a program that would let people see the arctic and give children a chance to learn about polar regions and how they are similar and different to other regions. In seeing this, the children would begin to see and learn about the connections between regions. With this in mind, my husband Jim Rich and I developed the Windows Around the World program (www.WindowsAroundTheWorld.org ), that lets children, teachers, parents and anyone come and see what it looks like in different areas.
click here to read more
Thoughts from an Aleut of the Bering Sea: 1
November 27th, 2006
I am an Alaska Native, an Aleut, born and raised in the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea off the west coast of Alaska. My people have lived in intimate connection with the Bering Sea for almost ten thousand years, and we are still here with our connection still strong. Because of our intimate connection, we are able to notice the subtlest changes to the Bering Sea, and the fish and wildlife dependent on it, long before any highly trained scientist.
Aleuts of the Pribilof Islands first noted anomalous things about wildlife that indicated that food stress was likely beginning and that this was likely an ecosystem-wide phenomenon. St. Paul Island, my home and home to some 500 Aleuts, was truly a magical, mystical place, hidden from the world by dense blankets of fog throughout the summer months. St. Paul was home to some of the largest cliff nesting seabird colonies in North America, two and a half million strong. And it was also the home of some 1.2 million northern fur seals (the largest fur seal colony in the northern hemisphere), as well as thousands of steller sea lions. In 1977, our people noted adult birds with their breast bones protruding, with chest muscles “caved in”; murre and kittiwake chicks (cliff nesting seabirds) falling off of cliff ledges and dying in larger numbers than normal; fur seal pelts so thin that we could see light through them when the fat was fleshed off; and sea lions chasing after and eating fur seal pups in greater frequency than any other time in living memory. From this, Aleuts knew that there was big trouble, and that it encompassed the entire Bering Sea because near-shore foragers, distance foragers, depth foragers, and surface foragers were all indicating food stress. Indeed, since this time, these animals having been precipitously declining in populations.
click here to read more
— Larry Merculieff
How much fossil fuel did you eat and drink today?
November 26th, 2006
Does it matter if our food chain consumes 20% of our fossil fuel budget?
I am currently “digesting” Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, Joe D’Aleo’s “Alternative view of climate change” slide deck from his presentation at the 7th Southern New England weather Conference on October 28th, 2006, and Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”.
Talk about a lot of moving parts in many dimensions – with many apparent contradictions, ambiguities and uncertainties.
D’Aleo presents a range of interesting data that does not appear to fit “conveniently” with the dominant global warming theories. He reports, for example, that Mt. Kilamanjoro
is actually getting colder as the snows recede. So why are they receding? D’Aleo suggests it is because there is less snow fall to replace the snow that naturally evaporates. And why less snow? Because of variations in sun energy output and cyclical changes in sea conditions.
So what are we to believe? Should climate models include long period cycles of various sorts or not? Where are the models that not only include cyclical phenomena but also methane as well as CO2?
Very curious. I am looking forward to your help on getting a better handle on this.