Still in the month of May!

Figurative and literal cracks!

My rather cryptic sub-heading will make sense very soon.

Just ten days ago I published a post The Month of May. It explained why May had always been a special month in my life and then went on to introduce an article published by The Smithsonian Using a New Roadmap to Democratize Climate Change.

That article featured the former president of Iceland, Olafur Grimsson, and how he was encouraging new solutions to climate change. Primarily via a new organisation called RoadMap. (Did you sign up??)

There is change in the air. People are starting to make a better future. Cities across the USA (and elsewhere undoubtedly) are pledging to go 100 percent renewable. Here’s what Grist published on May 4th.

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Cities all over the U.S. are pledging to go 100 percent renewable.

Atlanta, Georgia (Shutterstock)

On Monday, Atlanta lawmakers voted unanimously to power the city entirely with clean energy sources by 2035.

Atlanta is the 27th city to make the pledge, according to the Sierra Club. These kinds of municipal promises have been popping up nationwide over the past few months. Here’s a recap:

“We know that moving to clean energy will create good jobs, clean up our air and water, and lower our residents’ utility bills,” said Kwanza Hall, an Atlanta City Council member and mayoral candidate, in a statement. “We have to set an ambitious goal or we’re never going to get there.”

A round of applause for local climate progress!

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Lovely to see the city of Portland on that list.

Keep it coming. For we need to see cracks of change; cracks of hope.

Cracks to counter literal cracks.

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The crack that’s redrawing the world’s map.

(From the BBC Culture Newsletter 5th May.)

The shape of the world is hanging by a thread – or rather, according to experts, by a 110 mile-long (177km) rift. That’s the extent of a rapidly expanding crack in an enormous ice shelf in Antarctica. When the Larsen C shelf finally splits, the largest iceberg ever recorded (bigger than the US state of Rhode Island and a third the size of Wales) will snap off into the ocean. Widening each day by 3 ft (1 m), the groaning cleft is on the verge of dramatically redrawing the southern-most cartography of our planet and is likely to lead, climatologists predict, to an acceleration in the rise of sea levels globally.

 An aerial photo of the frigid fissure, taken late last year when it was discovered that the pace of the icy tear was quickening, was suddenly back in the news this week with the announcement that a second rift in the shelf had been detected. The fracture leads our eye along a zig-zagging path – from the backward gaze of the plane’s right engines to the pristine polar blue of the horizon in the distance. The jaggedness of the cleft, which takes our vision on a journey whose ultimate destination is unfathomable, seems at once monumental and terrifyingly fragile. The photo intensifies our helplessness in the face of cataclysmic change. It freezes the potential destruction in the blink of a camera’s shutter, while at the same time hinting at a catastrophe that we can witness unfolding but are utterly powerless to stop.

A second rift was recently discovered in the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic peninsula (Credit: NASA/John Sonntag)

As a visual statement, the aerial photo of the Larsen C crack is, by definition, incomparable; never before has the world marked the glacial advance of such a sublime and fearsome fracture in its very fabric. Yet the reemergence of the image in the news anticipates the ten-year anniversary of one of the most intriguing and innovative large-scale works in contemporary art – a work whose power relies for its thought-provoking effect on the peculiar poetry of ruinous rifts. In October 2007, the Colombian-born artist Doris Salcedo unveiled in London an ambitious installation in the cavernous space of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall – a piece that split reaction down the middle.

Inviting gallery-goers into the otherwise empty and austere interior of the former Bankside Power Station, Salcedo subverted expectations. Rather than offering visitors a hall of temporarily installed sculptures, she orchestrated the contemplation instead of a ragged subterranean breach that appeared to rip open the concrete floor of the structure – a crevice that extended from one end of the yawning space to the other.

For the Colombian artist Doris Salcedo’s 2007 work, Shibboleth, a giant crack was made in the concrete floor of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall (Credit: Alamy)

Salcedo deepened the mystery of her bold and experimental conceptual work by giving to it the curious title Shibboleth – a biblical word which, when mispronounced, was said to have exposed the outsider status of individuals. Complicating matters still further, the artist insisted that her work was a comment not on the folly of material ambitions, but on racism – that deep cultural scar that tears at the foundations of humanity. Placed side-by-side, this week’s photo from Antarctica and the image captured a decade ago of Doris Salcedo’s challenging Shibboleth share both a brutal beauty and a common theme: the brittleness of being.

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“the brittleness of being.”

Please, all of us, let’s make a positive difference so that we can soften the edges of that brittleness.

17 thoughts on “Still in the month of May!

    1. Although nature has a way of trumping (sorry; couldn’t resist) politics. Or perhaps better said than nature will soon be screaming at such a loud pitch that even the most vociferous of political conversations won’t be able to hear themselves speak.

      1. Although “Global Warming” is an accurate term, “Climate Chaos” might have served us all far better in articulating the emergency of needed action.

  1. Great information. Leaves me a bit frazzled knowing there is little I can do to make things better. We try on our small scale while the rest of the world goes headlong into disaster with a blind eye. It’s part of why I love living in the Portland area. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Nice article, Paul! It’s straightforward basic physics. Here is my essay from 2008 on equipartion of energy and climate change, predicting climate CHAOS:
    https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2008/03/08/the-equipartition-of-energy-theorem-should-be-applied-for-climate-change-and-predicts-wild-fluctuations-of-temperatures/

    At some point, nature will take over, and drive climate change all by herself. It could happen in 20 years, or 20 months. We are poking the dragon’s tail!

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