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  • Fernando Ortiz

Climate Signals

Public Art, Polar Bears and Breaking the Silence



So before I became an Environmentalist, Sustainability Professional and Designer, I went to art and design school at Pratt in Brooklyn, so for me this is pure bliss. Climate Signals is a multi-site public art installation by Justin Brice Guariglia, co-presented with the NYC Mayor’s Office- Climate Policy and Programs and a host of other partners in NYC. The initiative is spearheaded by The Climate Museum and seeks to engage New Yorkers in climate conservation and conversation. The installations will run from September 1st to November 6th and are located across 10 city-wide parks throughout all the 5 boroughs and Governors Island- where The Climate Museum Hub is located.

This public art installation consist of 10 solar-powered highway signs flashing different text related to Climate Change and in different languages common to the area where they are located. Climate Signals is described by The Climate Museum to help break the “climate silence, encouraging thought, dialogue, and action to address the greatest challenges of our time.” Some of the parks where you can find this installation include Hunts Point Riverside Park (where I first encountered it), St.Mary’s Park, Sunset Park, St.Nicholas Park, Hudson River Park, Snug Harbor, Flushing Meadows- Corona Park, Yankee Pier and a few other sites. Climate Signals is an important public art installation, especially in our time and with our environmental, political and social reality. With a President that does not agree that Climate Change is happening and unsupportive of environmental causes, it is important to spark conversations and consciousness in people’s mind about the reality of Climate Change. Climate Change is defined as “a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.” These increased levels of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is caused from anthropogenic activities aka humans. We are massively producing, transporting, building, consuming and disposing of things at uncontrollable and damaging numbers. Since the Industrial Revolution, we have greatly damaged our ecosystems and natural environments- we have led thousands of species into extinction, we have destroyed forest and wetlands, we have polluted our land, air and waterways and we have thrown trash everywhere.

There is not a single part of the world that does not have effects of human activities and consumption. In one of my favorite books The Upcycle, the authors quote “one piece of popular visual iconography at this point in history depicts polar bears wandering around looking for ice to walk on. As depressing as this sight is, under the surface, the molecular reality is perhaps even more disturbing. Polar bear blood now contains such chemicals as fire retardants used in babies’ cribs 5,000 miles away.” For the polar bears, not only is their natural habitat in the Arctic region melting away due to increased temperatures caused by human activities, we are polluting our waterways in such a way that all marine and terrestrial species are being affected. For me, Climate Signals is an amazing public art installation that begins to break the silence of climate change in our communities.

Make sure to check it out : https://www.climate-signals.org/visit/

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