“Growth is the measure of energy consumption and the measure of the destruction of nature. The more energy we consume, the more nature we destroy, the more growth increases. Ecology and growth are not compatible.
You have to look reality in the face, know what you’re up against. The trajectory we are on is a trajectory of collapses in the plural. The collapse of life and biodiversity is already here. The acceleration of climate change is reaching the dramatic proportions that scientists predicted and will threaten the habitability of most of the land on earth for humans.
We are on this path of collapse because we are exploding the planetary limits. So we have to change the economic model to return to a model where we have a neutral ecological footprint, that is to say where each year we do not consume more than what the planet can provide. How do we go from the current situation of exploding planetary limits to respecting them?
We cannot do this without a profound cultural change. This change is at work today. The society has entered into a new awareness about the need to act and to change our lifestyles. And this change in our lifestyle is more and more experienced not as a sacrifice, but as a positive choice, as a liberation. This is the beginning of a break with the dominant ideology, or what matters is what you possess and to always have more money.”
Excerpt from a January 2020 interview with Delphine Batho, French politician, member of the National Assembly, and former Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy.
During the month of October 2020, artists on Instagram were invited to create an art piece inspired by Planetary Limits, and post it on their Instagram page. The contributions were posted on What’s Next for Earth’s page. Here’s a selection.
Fading into the Mist? Really?
Oil and carbon ink on pellon
This image depicts a confused-looking man, sitting on an insubstantial cloud, looking backward, flummoxed, and unaware of the precarious position he is in.
Marie Cameron (Los Gatos, CA)
Rainbow Road (Shaver Lake)
Found photograph, silk thread
5 3/4” x 3 1/2”
The forests are the lungs of our planet. Now the forests are in our lungs.
Nancy D Lane (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
Reach for the Moon
found object assemblage
The lower section of this work depicts the pollution of the Earth’s atmosphere based on climate inaction – dependence on fossil fuels, an increase in carbon dioxide, further global warming. In this scenario, we will eventually reach our planetary limit, a calamitous tipping point.
In contrast, the upper section imagines mountains, a cityscape, and, importantly, an individual reaching skyward. We cannot wait passively; climate action must start with each of us. We must ‘reach for the moon’ by living sustainably ourselves, inspiring others to join us, and encouraging the government to act in the interests of the future.
I am committed to sustainability in my art practice. I created this work from boards, orange tiles, rusted sheet metal, and miscellaneous pieces of rusted metal, including rods, bolts, spark plugs, and springs, all found on the streets of Melbourne.
When the Ice is Gone
Please listen to the soundtrack here.
Polar bears are in grave danger because the ice, which is the very ground they stand on, has disappeared. Their desperate struggle is not far at all from where we may find ourselves soon. With our insatiable commercial hunger, we could completely deplete the earth’s natural resources. Then we may find that the earth unconditional supported has disappeared from underneath our feet.
Michael Kerbow (San Francisco, CA)
Here’s a small painting I recently completed which is part of my “Late Capitalism” series. Yet another allegory about climate change and its impact upon our landscape.
Michele Guieu (Sunnyvale, CA)
Made of natural elements found during daily walks in my neighborhood.
At some point, there is the realization that everything we do has an impact on Earth. Even making art. Thinking about what we do and trying to minimize our impact is a powerful way to reconnect to nature. This is not something we learn at school, this is not the way our culture makes us think about our relationship to nature. Because we are raised with this idea that Earth will provide indefinitely. And we seldomly talk about the destruction that goes with the exploitation. Learning about limits, planetary limits and the limit I may want to apply to my behavior is in a way liberating.
I love what Corinne Morel Darleux says in her Presage Podcast interview “Faced with the drying up of horizons, the dignity of the present”:
“There are a lot of fights that we fight not because we think we are going to win them but because we think they are fair: preserve what can still be, slowing down the destruction of living things. Feeling that you are contributing to a larger movement is a powerful motivation.”
Corinne Morel Darleux
Marianne Bickett (Oregon)
There is a broken-down farm nearby. When we see the rusting farm machinery being overrun by plants I am sad and yet deep inside I feel a sense of peace. The planet will survive. The earth will go on and reinvent itself. We may take ourselves and other species down in our descent, but the planet has no limits. Perhaps life on the planet will prevail in some way. Nature will, in the end, reclaim and turn our waste into something new. I am not truly as bleak as this sounds. For there are so many now who have courage and things are changing. Will it be in time and will it be enough? It’s up to us. Or one day the Mona Lisa or the statue of David or the Golden Gate Bridge will look like the truck in this photograph.
Thanks to all of you for each and every little thing you do every day that matters.
Ivan Sigg (Paris, France)
Observer le monde. Faire le tour d’une pierre comme on fait le tour de la terre. Découvrir le monde contenu dans la pierre et partager.
Observe the world. Go around a stone like one around the earth. Discover the world contained in the stone and share.
Essential Compass 2
La boussole de l’essentiel
15x15cm collage, acrylic on book cover, digital collage
what’s essential in our life?
Do we still need more and more?What can we change?
Does Materialism bring happiness?
4R to Reduce Reuse Recycle and Respect!
Respect yourself and humankind, animals, plants, and minerals…
Eric Meyer (Paris, France)
Comprendre et connaître nos limites, les respecter.
Acrylique, spray, et feutres sur bois
Understand and know our limits, respect them.
Acrylic, spray, and markers on wood
Oil on paper
Detail of original, which measures 90×52”
Rivers and watersheds offer a micro-lens of humankind’s challenge to “live within our means” on a planet of finite resources. Facing the threat of ecological and climate collapse, we must find ways to balance the needs of ecosystems and species with those of us humans.
In this painting, Delta Smelt and California Least Tern represent just two species affected by water projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This project is especially emblematic of the kinds of complex, multi-stakeholder water management conversations we are and will continue to face all over the world.
Cynthia Fusillo (Barcelona, Spain)
Ecofeminist – Philosopher, Carolyn Merchant reminds us, pre_Enlightenment, Nature was viewed as the benevolent mother of all things. It was the ‘dominion model of Scientific Revolution that placed this perspective, rationalizing and dissecting Nature to reveal her secrets. In having such secrets exposed, Nature became more vulnerable and hence easier to control. She speaks of this in her book, The Death of Nature. I have taken the liberty here to interpret this with a collaged digital image.
Teresa Mill (California)
watercolor on paper
From the San Ignacio Series
This image of a somewhat emaciated young bull in a beautiful landscape makes me think of the imbalance created by factory farming, which separates us from the awareness that our food was once a sentient being like this. For everyone on the planet to eat beef is a completely unsustainable way for humans to feed themselves, both in terms of the destruction of pristine forests to graze cattle, as well as climate change.
~ Michele Guieu, Eco-Artist, MAHB Member, and MAHB Arts Community coordinator ~