- Brooke Collier
The Climate Clocks Are Ticking
In celebration of Climate Week, the iconic Metronome clock in New York City, previously measuring 24-hour cycles, has been reprogrammed to illustrate the critical window of time left to take action on the climate crisis. Artists Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd began working on this project about two years ago, shortly after Golan’s daughter was born.
Gan Golan is a climate activist who helped organize the People's Climate March in New York City in 2014, but his passion intensified when his newborn daughter arrived alongside the release of the alarming IPCC report on the impact of 1.5 °C of global warming. He teamed up with Andrew Boyd, a fellow climate activist and Chief Existential Officer of Climate Clock. A year ago, 17-year-old Greta Thunberg, one of the world's most famous climate activists, asked the team to build the first climate clock for her. A handheld lock that carried into the U.N. to show the Secretary-General.
New York’s large-scale climate clock was influenced in part by the Doomsday Clock, maintained online by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and by the National Debt Clock near Bryant Park in Manhattan. Mr. Golan and Mr. Boyd chose to display the 24-metre-wide clock in a discernible public space to highlight the urgency to prevent the effects of global warming from becoming irreversible.
The clock’s visible countdown is based on calculations by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin. MCC is a “scientific think tank”, addressing the grand challenges of climate change and governing the global commons. They aim to provide policy advice, solutions, and public debates on long-term global issues such as climate change.
What does this countdown imply? The Climate Clock displays a deadline of the years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds left to restrain greenhouse gas emissions, enough to give Earth a two-thirds chance of staying below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. If this level of warming is exceeded, the global impacts will become increasingly more detrimental. If humanity does not take immediate action on its climate, we will “lock in” a level of warming that will be catastrophic for our planet’s inhabitants.
Philanthropist and artist Jolyon Collier shares this same urgency to alert the human race on the current global crisis. Founder of the non-profit ocean conservation Counting Coral, Jolyon communicates “The clock is ticking” as the company's motto. Counting Coral aims to cultivate and grow coral and relieve pressure on the natural reefs.
Artist Jolyon Collier has created a countdown clock with the alarming amount of time left until all living coral has died. The ocean absorbs most of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions, leading to rising ocean temperatures, and eventually a complete coral die off. Similar to New York’s climate change clock, this can be reversed. These clocks are a testament to time, an artistically engineered way to convey science to power, stopwatches that we need to keep pace with.
Using qualified expertise, Collier plans to sink several stainless-steel art pieces to create the world’s first underwater sculptural dive park and coral nursery. Once installed, the sculptures can be planted-out with coral as a first stage coral nursery. When the new coral grows, the sculptures then become an artificial reef.
The sculptures will stand as a testament of time and coincide with the climate's ticking clock. Coral too, will fail to survive if the climate can not stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. If the devastation of coral continues, and the goal of restoration is not met, the sculptures will be utilized as a symbolic message to humanity; a message of remorse. The sculptures will then be removed from the seafloor for future education.
Coral bleaching has become a normality. As coral is a more sensitive and intricate thing to plant, rising sea temperatures must be addressed for the disaster to stop.
We have reached a point in existence where we need aggressively large reminders to take care of our planet. We have reached a point in existence where people are crying out for change. Our planet quite literally counts on us. These limitations can be reversed. If emissions keep rising, the date we reach 1.5℃ will move closer. If the emissions decrease, the date for 1.5℃ will move further away.
Artists Jolyon Collier, Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd express the innovative approaches to strengthen both their own and their communities' climate efforts. With the use of art and engineering to impact the human consciousness, they hope to drive monumental change.
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