CAT enlist artists to help save the planet!
2nd December 2009
The science is clear - man made climate change is responsible for global warming that could take us beyond the previous natural peaks in the planet's history. This uncharted territory could well have global catastrophic consequences caused by the chain reactions of natural systems in collapse. But, it's uncharted territory, there is no record of such an event from the past, so we don't know for sure what could happen. This uncertainty gives the (well funded) so called climate change deniers a foothold in the way the issue is perceved, mainly in the media, on television and in the press. Recent polls suggest that only 41% of the UK's population believes that climate change is happening. There is a problem, the message isn't getting through.
The CAT has been engaged in the research and development of sustainable, non 'greenhouse gas' emitting, sources of energy and environmentally friendly lifestyles for more than 30 years. They have grown from their very humble beginnings of a few radicals living in the dissused Llwyngwern quarry in 1973 to the internationally respected institution we see today, advising governments on energy policies and predicting future outcomes on economies and the social consequences of climate change globally. But, it's only recently, as they developed a strategy for the UK called 'Zero Carbon Britain', that even they have been shocked into the realisation that the irreversible effects of climate change will happen much sooner than previously thought if we don't do something about it right now. It's an imminent danger, but it's still avoidable. As Paul Allen, Development Director at the CAT said, "The situation we're in is like a lorry driving at full speed towards a brick wall. If we don't steer the lorry in a new direction we will hit the wall, but it's not too late, yet, if we act now we can steer away from disaster".
The problem for the CAT is the message. Many people have got the message and many people have adapted their lifestyles to live a more responsible life. But not enough people get the message. The CAT needs to review their current methods of engaging the public in the debate and getting their unambiguous message out there. Today's gathering of artists at the centre was the first exploratory event to see where the arts are already engaged environmentally and what can be done collaboratively between CAT and arts practitioners to get the message accross.
Artists met in the new dining area of the still being built W.I.S.E. (Wales Institute for Sustainable Education) development and introduced each other in a 'speed dating' fashion before moving on to the straw bale theatre where the presentations took place. After lunch we returned to work in groups discussing the role of the arts in this debate and how to engage with the arts community and reach a wider population.
There is a very large wall space in the new dining area of the WISE building. Culture Colony - Y Wladfa Newydd has already started to negotiation about that space for artworks (it's a lovely big floorspace too - but when the building's finally complete - imminently - tables will occupy the space). We'll keep you posted on any developments regarding the use of the wall for art. In the meantime if you have any ideas regarding such a space then please let us know - it could help in the negotiations. Bear in mind that the wall is 'environmentally friendly' - so not friendly to hanging things from it.
Paul Allen started the CAT power point presentations to put the situation into various contexts. We are in an unprecedented time. There is a record number of records being broken (today, co-incidentally, it was announced that the UK has just had the wettest November on record). But it's important that the message isn't doom and gloom. The tipping point for the environment is 2C and we're fast approaching that - but we're not there yet. Paul wanted to inspire us to steer the lorry away from the wall through positive, uplifting, thinking. Paul used the analogy of how the future was imagined in his childhood through his comics and the films from the 50's and early 60's - a technologically bright brave future. But later on, the way the future was imagined became bleaker. In contemporary films the future is a dark place. Paul would like to see a culture emerge that is as positive about the future as the films from his childhood, films that were an antidote for those who had experienced the war and needed positive inspiration. He wants us to imagine 2050 as a place of optimism and hope because the struggle we need to engage in now has been successful.
One presentation, about food and greenhouse gass emissions, prefered a washing line to power point. One third of our greenhouse gass emissions is a direct result of food production.
After presentations by the CAT about energy security, natural ecosystems, lifestyle changes, the built environment and food production it was then thrown open to the creative thinkers gathered in the room to break out into groups and discuss the issues to look for a way forward for the message.
Culture Colony - Y Wladfa Newydd will be providing a virtual platform for this debate to continue and to help facilitate more gatherings for arts practitioners concerned about environmental issues. If you would like to get involved let us know here at Culture Colony - Y Wladfa Newydd by using the message service and put your name on the list (put Culture Colony in the 'To' bar and include the message 'put me on the list for Arts in Transition').