Stephen Siperstein once said “Science can tell us how we got to the Anthropocene Era, but it takes art to tell us what it’s like to be human in the Anthropocene Era.” This article lists other media and art, besides literature, that tell the story. You might also be interested in joining our discussion group that was created to allow all artists and authors to join in and chat about their projects.
Note: I wrote this article in 2014, and many of the links are expired. Also, so much more has expanded in this field. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I would recommend that you check out Artists & Climate Change, a beautiful and continually updated site.
Dance has always been a human (and other species!) movement that gets out the kinks and creates a kind of interaction with others and with the space around us, not just for the purpose of dancing or alluring potential mates but sometimes to create a statement about the environment. The University of Colorado at Boulder featured a project for telling the climate change tale through dance and storytelling. And check out Water is Rising, a yearly tour of dance and performance dealing with global warming. In October 2011, protesters who were trying to raise awareness of climate change broke out in a flash mob dance in Perth, Australia. In another area of the world, Karole Armitage uses dance in Fables of Global Warming. There’s also Loomis Chaffee and Sonia Plumb, who created “Dancing to Combat Climate Change“. In April 2014, Pacific Islanders held a warrior dance day to highlight climate change effects. Dancing is ageless; I loved this 9th grader’s choreograph of dance to raise awareness. There is also 500 Miles 500 Stories.
Dance is often combined with theatrical musicals and performance; see Nellie McKay’s Searching for the Sweet Stuff.
Click here for fiction films about climate change and related environmental themes. Independent Lens has an Earth Day watch for 2017 films, including An Inconvenient Sequel, Melting Ice, Chasing Coral (bring a tissue), Out of the Blue, and more.
Science Daily lists the top movies or documentaries that deal with climate change. They list The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy (2008) and An Inconvenient Truth (2006). Nick Redfern adds The 11th Hour and potentially Avatar. Avatar was a bit more general but still dealt with a more pristine world that hasn’t gone through environmental destruction. Time lists Godzilla, though I fail to see that it had a climate theme (there are some environmental motifs throughout the Godzilla canon, but he’s all about nuclear radiation). Merchants of Doubt is also a documentary that was added to the Toronto Film Festival 2014. Another festival is the Blue Ocean Film Festival happening November 3-9, 2014. Others: Facing Climate Change (documentary) and the 2015 Environmental Film Fest.
We would add Chasing Ice, a favorite documentary that shows glacial retreat over time; Snowpiercer, the television series; Years of Living Dangerously (a must-see); Cowspiracy (new); Disruption; and NASA’s climate reel. There’s also older dystopian works such as Soylent Green, which served as warnings to our planet’s future. Another film is Interstellar (mostly sci-fi). There’s also a suspense-filled Take Shelter, which The Guardian listed as a movie about climate change. And, a new series called “Nature is Speaking” is by Conservation International. Others: Category 7, The Age of Stupid, Thin Ice, Are You Listening?, and Young Ones.
Wikipedia lists The Age of Stupid, Aluna, Beyond the Pole, Colony, Lost City Raiders, Odyssey 2050, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, Split Second, The Greening of Planet Earth, and Waterworld–among those already listed. Their documentary page also lists both climate and related films: Are We Changing Planet Earth, The Cloud Mystery, Clouds of Smoke, Cool It, Earth 2100, Everything’s Cool, Five Ways to Save the World, Global Warming: The Signs and The Science, The Great Global Warming Swindle, The Great Warming, Greedy Lying Bastards, The Greenhouse Conspiracy, The Island President, Not Evil Just Wrong, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, Spoiled, Sun Come Up, Thin Ice, Vanishing Point, Voices of Transition, What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire, The World Set Free (Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey).
Others to watch for: Vietnamese produced Water-2030, What’s Possible, India’s climate change film festival, Taking Earth’s Temperature, Leonardo diCaprio’s Carbon, This Changes Everything (companion to Naomi Klein’s book, shot by her husband Avi Lewis), and Aquarius,
Climate Interactive lists over a dozen videos games that provide climate challenges. The types of games include video games, role-playing games, and board games. These games, such as Climate Challenge, Plan it Green, SimCity5 (which adds sustainability to the player strategy), Polar Eclipse Game, and World Climate Exercise, put the player into action as he or she makes decisions to curb climate change and fix environmental problems. Another game is Fate of the World.
I’m not kidding. Check out It Ain’t Too Late Show.
Music and Sound (some with video)
Artists and Climate Change lists Daniel Crawford, Nora York, Jeremy Pickard, The Fracking Song, Tanya Tugaq, and Cynthia Hopkins. Climate Safety also has a list. Change the Earth is also shown at EcoWatch.
YouTube even lists songs in this theme! Also see Tuts Plus. Global Soundscapes is also recording earth sounds of today and tomorrow. And, this is so cool, Peter Shenai and composer Laurence Osborn used a 3D printer and mathematical graphs of shifting climate data to make sounds–Data Bells. I also love the story of how John Luther Adams’ “Become Ocean,” which won a Pulitzer Prize, is based on climate change.
Climate Change and the Arts can start our exploration here with paintings by Susan Hoenig, Danielle Nelisse, Bethany Bartran, Barbara Matilksy, Street Art Utopia, Legion Arts, and Linda Mackey. Also check out Pinterest, which has a whole slew of pins relating to painting and climate change.
There’s also an interesting project, as reported by Tech Times, that looks at old paintings and compares their content to today’s reality.
Artists use photography to capture climate change and its effects. See Robert van Waarden, National Geographic, World View of Global Warming, Chasing Ice (mentioned above, but also led by photographer James Balog; also see Extreme Ice Survey), Photo Shelter, The New Yorker, Jim Reed Photography, Artists and Climate Change, Treehugger, Living on Climate Change, Noor, Tuts Plus, Earth Day, Joan Sullivan, Earth Under Fire, Magnum Photos, Joel Sternfeld, Lori Hepner, BBC, Gideon Mendel, and many more.
After Water: Science, art, and journalism about climate change is a unique radio show. They focus on the future of the Great Lakes. WBEZ brings fiction writers and scientists together, then asks writers to jump off from there, creating stories set decades from now—when clean, fresh water could be a rare resource.
Yes, even sculpture has a place in the arts community touching upon climate change. See Isaac Cordal and Artists and Climate Change (Susan Hoenig, Anthony Howe, Mike Cook, and even more of Isaac Cordal). Also see 350.org for a street art sculpture.
They say literature should do, not be–well, that’s a good piece of advice, but what better way to face climate change than to act it out? In this category are Caryl Churchill’s play The Contingency Plan, the transdisciplinary Odyssey Climate, Steve Cosson and Michael Friedman’s Climate Change the Musical, Cynthia Hopkin’s This Clement World, Stephen’ Emmet’s one-man show Ten Billion, Yale’s The Great Immensity, and many more. Another play, 2071, helps to dramatize climate change. See the video An Evening with William Shatner Asterisk for a symbiosis between art and science.
- Center for the Sustainable Practice in the Arts (CSPA)
- Climate Change and the Arts
- Facebook Group: The Art of Climate Change
- Forest Art Works
- Imagine 2020
- Who Makes Art about Climate Change?
Please contact me with additions to this page.