March 18, 2014

Visualizing Climate Change: The HighWaterLine

Climate change is a downright abstract concept to get your head around. The science is complicated, the effects are broad yet nuanced, and not everyone will be impacted in the same way. So, what is an impactful way to represent the dangers posed by climate change that everyone can understand?

One project is raising eyebrows by literally drawing a line through the community. The HighWaterLine is a visual representation of projected, future sea-level rise as a result of global warming and more frequent and stronger storms and storm surges. Using various media, such as a blue chalk outline, or even a human chain, a revised flood zone based on current climate data is delineated within an urban/suburban area, bringing the reality of a warming planet home to local residents.

HighWaterLine | NYC, Brooklyn, 2007 Attribute: Hose Cedeno

The HighWaterLine is the brainchild of NYC-based artist, Eve Mosher, who initially based the project on climate change data contained within a NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies report issued in 2001. Having read the report and witnessing a watered-down response from public officials, Ms. Mosher was determined to take matters into her own hands.

After nearly eight months of research and planning, Ms. Mosher installed the first iteration of The HighWaterLine in August 2007 along 70 miles of coastline in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, demarcating the 10 foot about sea level rise with a 4-inch wide blue chalk line.

To encourage others to replicate the project in their own communities, Ms. Mosher devised a HighWaterLine “Action Guide,” in essence a simplified toolkit of knowledge bites and best practices, to ensure easy replication of the project elsewhere. 


February 16, 2012

The beauty and fragility of reefs

There’s a wonderful blog post right now on NPR by Robert Krulwich, one-half of the amazing team that produces Radiolab (a show that makes science not just accessible but downright captivating).  It talks about sculptors and weavers who’re drawing attention to the beauty and fragility of coral reefs.

This is one of many sculptures by Jason de Caires Taylor, who designs underwater “parks” to relieve tourism from the world’s endangered coral reefs.  His sculptures are made out of pH-neutral cement that’s designed to host undersea life.

A new "White Reef" coral reef crochet by Dr. Axt.

Here’s a crocheted coral reef by an artist pseudonymed “Dr. Axt,” a member of The Institute for Figuring, which strives to create and appreciate the beauty in and of natural and mathematical forms.

Lots more photos and intriguing descriptions on the original blog post over at NPR.

 

 


November 27, 2011

This stuff exists

Paul Nicklen is a white man who grew up in an Inuit community way up in Northern Canada near Greenland.  He takes pretty amazing pictures of polar bears, seals, penguins and the like for magazines like National Geographic.  He’s trying to put (animal) faces to the story people otherwise are getting kinda sick of — that polar ice is disappearing.

Watching him talk about the polar food chains, you can see his respect for the fragility of the world he grew up in.

I appreciate that.

It takes guts to hang out in the water for days on end with leopard seals.  He’s putting his money where his mouth is.  He’s funny, too.

Gotta restock my shelves.  See you later.


October 19, 2011

Arctic shipping routes: the upside of global warming?

Hi,

One of my shipspotting buddies saw this article in the New York Times about how warmer ocean temperatures are shrinking the Arctic “ice pack.”

Means shippers are opening more new sea lanes and more routes near shore will be accessible more often during the year:

[C]ompanies in Russia and other countries around the Arctic Ocean are mining that dark cloud’s silver lining by finding new opportunities for commerce and trade.

Not gonna lie, when I heard about this it made my mouth water, and I started polishing my binoculars.  But guess who’s the most excited about this news?  Yup: oil and mining companies.  Even Pootie-Poot, aka Vladimir Putin, thinks it’s a great idea for cutting costs. 

Alaska’s lieutenant governor, Mead Treadwell, was among those who attended the Russian conference. He noted that about $1 billion worth of goods passed through the Bering Strait last year. “The ships,” he said, “are coming.”

Can’t put anything past that guy.


September 21, 2011

Octopus’s Garden

I love that old Beatles song. “I’d like to be/Under the sea/In an octopus’s garden in the shade.”

So the polar icecaps are melting and the sea level is rising.  It’s already risen about 20-40 centimeters, depending on where you are on Earth.  And there are a lot of predictions about how much more ice is going to melt, and when.

Some folks made a chart about it in January of 2010 with the funny title When Sea Levels Attack!  

It shows how many years it will take for various big cities around the world to become completely submerged.  It’s spooky stuff, that’s for sure.  The chart shows that if everything goes as predicted, in 1,000 years almost all the world’s major coastal cities will be underwater.  There are these little tiny world maps on there too.  There’s one that depicts what a world map will look like 8,000 years from now.  The data sources are at the bottom of the graph along with a spreadsheet if you want to really be a geek about it. 

Then again, the water levels might not rise that far. Though I’m sure there must be some folks already investing in real estate in sub-Saharan Africa.

Know where the title for Octopus’s Garden came from?  Ringo Starr, who wrote  the song, was on a boat with Peter Sellers and the ship’s captain told Ringo that octopuses travel along the seabed picking up stones and shiny objects to build gardens.  (Those gardens are more like rocky dens for the octopuses to live in, but ‘garden’ sounds nicer, doesn’t it. )

I suppose if all this sea level stuff really happens, the octopuses will really go nuts with their gardening.  Imagine all the stuff that’ll be submerged underwater!

The future of shipspotting may well involve stilts. 

Gotta go warm up my potful of Sanka.


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