Thursday, March 08, 2007

More on sciencey art

Global warming is the theme in art this year – thanks in great part to Al Gore’s 2006 film “Inconvenient Truth,” Jared Diamond’s 2005 book “Collapse,” and Elizabeth Kolbert’s stunning reports in The New Yorker, which were collected in her 2006 book “Field Notes from a Catastrophe” (our generation’s “Silent Spring”?).

“There’s a tremendous amount of anxiety out there among people who study the climate,” Kolbert, who lives in the Berkshires, said during a talk at Boston’s Museum of Science on Wednesday. “Why hasn’t the alarm of the climate science community come through to the public?”

She attributes it to the dense, obscure and purposely dispassionate language of science – a language that reflects its careful devotion to unbiased data. This is where art can be helpful. Kolbert’s writing and, especially, Gore’s film demonstrate the power of art to convey the drama and urgency of a great environmental, social and political problem to a broad public, and move the debate forward.

“Global warming is not going away. It is a fact of our lives,” Kolbert said. “I fear for some of the young people in this room.”


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