February 10, 2014

Welcome to The Great Immensity Blogosphere!

We are thrilled to relaunch The Great Immensity website in anticipation of the show’s upcoming production at The Public from April 11 to May 1.

The global issue of climate change is a topic at the forefront of the scientific community. From top environmental scientists to organizations like the Nobel prize-winning IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), our greatest minds have collected and analyzed decades worth of research to better understand the situation and to affect important policy change. Now artists and activists from all mediums are recognizing the call to arms, and asking: what role can the arts play in responding to the crisis? 

Molly Carden in The Great Immensity at Kansas City Rep; Photo by: Don Ipock

The Play

In a thrilling and timely production, THE GREAT IMMENSITY is a continent-hopping thriller following a woman, Phyllis, as she pursues someone close to her who disappeared from a tropical island while on an assignment for a nature show. Through her search, Phyllis uncovers a mysterious plot surrounding the upcoming international climate summit in Auckland. As the days count down to the Auckland Summit, Phyllis must decipher the plan and possibly stop it in time. With arresting projected film and video and a wide-ranging score of songs, THE GREAT IMMENSITY is a highly theatrical look into one of the most vital questions of our time: how can we change ourselves and our society in time to solve the enormous environmental challenges that confront us?

Artistic Director Steve Cosson on a research trip in Barro Colorado Island

Artistic Director Steve Cosson on a research trip in Barro Colorado Island

The Website

From original haiku to underwater sculptures, every week characters from the play will blog about projects that focus on the intersection of arts + science + activism and our always-evolving relationship to the world around us.

Meghan McGeary in The Great Immensity at Kansas City Rep; Photo By: Don Ipock

A Quick 101

We hope that you’ll explore the site, watch our original videos, and participate in conversations by commenting.

You can search recent and pasts posts by:

1. TOPIC – click on any of the “tagsin the left-hand column to search by a specific topic, such as “sustainability,” “mountains,” or “temperature.”

2. BLOGGER – find all posts by a particular character by clicking on their picture in the left-hand column. For example: if you want to read all of Karl’s posts, click on his picture, and then in the box that appears click on “Karl’s posts.”

Also be sure to check out our awesome Environmental Lists in the right-hand column to learn about specific ways to take action now!

November 28, 2012

Feeling the Heat of Climate Change Now More Than Ever

So this summer was a little hot. You get used to feeling like the sun is constantly melting your face off, right? Well, not exactly. It’s hard to think of climate change as having an extreme detrimental effect to our future when we hear about people trying to keep the planet from warming more than a mere 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2020, but the fact of the matter is that we are closing in on the end of a critical period to prevent it from becoming catastrophic. And if we don’t do something to combat it’s progress soon, in a matter of decades climate change is going to come back and smack us in our already fried up faces for not having done more when we had the chance.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change didn’t waste any time on Monday when the convention opened. They began with a discussion of greenhouse gas emissions and how most countries aren’t pulling their weight in terms of working to minimize them. The world’s band of dirty little mistresses, or fossil fuels as some like to call them, are just so hard to say no to! However, according to their report unless this issue is addressed soon we will be putting the planet on a fast-track to devastating climate change. Click HERE to see some of the discussions live and to find links to some of the past discussions on Youtube! Also, the Kyoto Protocol – which usually forces countries to put in at least a little effort to combat rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions – expires this year. So it’s no wonder that climate change proponents are begging everyone at the convention to understand the urgency and criticalness of this situation.

Just a few weeks before the convention opened The European Environment Agency released a report stating that the effects of climate change are already becoming evident in Europe and are only likely to get worse if action is not taken to diminish them. In conjunction with the UN Environment Program, they have found that the “emissions gap”- the difference between current levels of carbon emissions and the levels of carbon emissions needed to avert climate change- is becoming greater rather than lessening. The European Environment Agency also reported that climate change has already impacted environmental systems and society, and further impacts are predicted for the future. We’re effectively delivering our climate a one-two punch. Between carbon and greenhouse gas emissions we’re setting our climate up for a knock-out blow. Unfortunately for us though, that knock out will take us down with it.

The Midwestern United States can attest to the fact that they’re already feeling the burn of climate change, too. In Iowa, 138 scientists and researchers from 27 Iowa colleges and universities signed a report called the Iowa Climate Statement linking global warming to past and recent extreme weather patterns that have caused severe damage not only in Iowa, but in surrounding states as well. Iowa alone experienced $10 billion in damages from major flooding that occurred in 2008, and it is common knowledge that this summer’s drought didn’t exactly extend a helping hand to help counter the previous damage.

But the UN can’t effect fighting climate change on its own, and others are on board to help spread the word. Just check out this article from the Huffington Post that features a video of Naomi Klein (her video segment on Democracy Now! is below), award winning author of “The Shock Doctrine”, discussing how Hurricane Sandy has the potential to be an impetus to keep fighting against climate change. And she’s not alone. A coalition of the world’s largest investors is currently pushing the government to act too! (Yep, you read that right- “A coalition of the world’s largest investors”. Who’d a thunk it?) They say that the government may face losing trillions of dollars in investments and disruptions to the economy if we can’t make more of an effort to combat climate change. Hopefully, countries, including the U.S., will leave the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change with some fresh ideas and the motivation to put them into action. But Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s going to take a global effort to combat climate change and we need to get that effort into gear as soon as possible.

November 6, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

For such a sweet name, Hurricane Sandy wasn’t one to play nice. Sandy wreaked havoc on much of the East Coast last Monday, and for many people things still aren’t quite back to normal. Subway lines in New York City are still being reopened little by little, and New Jersey- one of the hardest hit states- is slowly working to clean up the extensive damage Sandy left in her wake. Power outages and lack of heat and other utilities made it a rough week for many, and are still on-going issues for people living in New Jersey and some parts of New York City. But there may be a silver lining to this monster of a storm.

Hurricane Sandy has brought the discussion of climate change back into the political realm, and more importantly, back into the issues being debated in the current election (did you see the cover of Bloomberg Magazine this week?). This election season, climate change has been absent from the presidential debates with issues such as jobs and the economy taking precedence. Political pundits and opinionators have stepped up and spoken out on the matter bringing the issue to the forefront of current political discussions. However, some say that this new surge of political interest in climate change is a fleeting one. While scientists can confidently say that global warming contributed in some respects to Sandy’s devastating power, it is impossible to pin the entire cause of the storm on global warming.

Nevertheless, for most people climate change is becoming more real everyday- especially when they are first hand witnesses to mega storms like Sandy which are becoming more of the norm rather than the exception. HERE is a cool article about the climate modeling that allowed scientists and government forecasters to predict the path and intensity of the storm so well! HERE is another article from CNN that quotes some amazing scientists about climate change, the hurricane, and urban planning.

But not to fear! Even if Sandy doesn’t keep climate change on the political agenda for long, there are campaigns out there continually reminding the political minds that climate change is a concern to watch out for. Just check out this amazing campaign that’s working to illustrate the effects of climate change on the everyday lives of kids. It’s called the TRUST campaign and features videos of youth from across the country talking about how shifts in climate have directly affected their lives, and trying to bring attention to these issues.

If you’re interested in volunteering for hurricane relief efforts, here are some helpful resources for ways to get involved: Occupy Sandy, recovers.org

And here is a photo from the Atlantic. See lots more HERE. Our hearts go out to all those in need, and our thanks go out to all those who are out helping.

From the Atlantic, link to the article above. Robert Bryce walks with his wife, Marcia Bryce, through destruction from superstorm Sandy on Route 35 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, on October 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


October 22, 2012

Then I saw her face / Now I’m a believer!

Not a trace  /  Of doubt in my mind!

Okay – this post isn’t about The Monkees… it’s not even about monkeys. But I’m happy to say that more people are believing in climate change these days, and they are also more sure of their beliefs. A study done in conjunction by Yale and George Mason’s Centers for Climate Change Communication has shown that general belief in and understanding of global warming has increased from 57 percent in January of 2010 to 70 percent in September of 2012, and the number of people who do not believe that global warming is happening has decreased in recent years by nearly half. For the first time since 2008, over half of Americans say that they believe that global warming is the result of human activity.  There’s lots of interesting data in this thing about people’s trust in scientists and scientific information, and about people’s growing concern about the threat that climate change poses to us now and in the future.

These changes in attitude about global warming may stem in part from people’s belief that weather in the United States has been getting worse. Over the past two years a record number of extreme weather events have occurred such as heat waves, widespread droughts, floods, wildfires and violent storms. There will be more work done to examine the public perception of the issues, and there’s still a lot more progress to be made, but I can tell you, I’m a believer and there’s not a trace of doubt in my mind!


To read the Washington Post article that this map is related to click here.

February 24, 2012

GOP = Green Organization Positive?

Seems sometimes like our neighbors down in the U.S. stereotype the Democrats as the ones who care about the environment, and the Republicans just want things to stay the same, but that might not be true.  At least, governor-wise.

There’s a news article that says Republican governors in the States are putting in place policies that promote a “green economy,” and in some cases they’ve even done a better job than their Democratic colleagues.

Here’s the deal:  A report just came out from the National Governors Association which shows that between June 2010 and August 2011, 28 states enacted more than 60 new “clean” economic development policies. Among those states, 16 — more than half of ‘em — have Republican governors. In five of the those states, the policies were started under Democratic governors and were continued by the Republicans who replaced them.  Which means that eleven of those Republican governors were doing it on their own.

“Clean” means aiming to build local supply chains to meet the growing demand for clean power. Policy-wise, that includes tax breaks for renewable energy manufacturers, grants for clean-tech start-ups andprograms that train folks for green jobs.

Installing solar panels in Colorado. Part of a nutritious green economic development policy breakfast. Good job, guys.

Sounds good to me.  You know, a lot of Canadian news focuses on what’s happening with our “downstairs neighbors,” even far up where I am.  So it’s nice to hear a bit of good news that shows people defying their stereotypes — ‘specially with all that political bickering they got going on down there all the time — and doing green stuff that hopefully helps keeps my icebergs right where I want ‘em.

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    "The Next Forever" is a song from The Great Immensity. The footage was taken on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal by videographer David Ford. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.
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