The problems of Language.
If a politician wants to get going on something they generally separate it out and declare war on it- from obesity, to drugs, to that pesky country not allowing us access to their oil goodies.
Using the term War is problematic, it makes Us other and Nature something to be won over, compensated for, off-set, sidelined, put in a concrete tree hole, painted into the landscape, replaced or moved on. We are Nature, even our tech is Nature, anything we make is from Nature, so we had better look after it.
That said, we know when our leaders and society are at War. People run around in speciality hats and camo, there is a sense of urgency, the news is dominated by latest developments – there’s a pattern. You’ll have noticed it in 2020 with COVID. Does it feel like we’re at a War footing with our other crises? Are we running up and down the street acting on Kate Raworth’s and the Planetary Boundaries’ areas of panic? Climate, ecology, functional biodiversity, chemical pollution, nitrate poisoning, emptying seas and skies and land, ozone. Does it FEEL like we’re in an emergency situation?
Nope, thought not.
Climate Psychology Alliance Scotland has some great reminders why we act the way we do. We aren’t evil, we’re just deeply scared, anxious, and those that do see where we’re going are just darn petrified. How we get out of the rabbit–in-headlights moment and crash into all-out Global action is the question.
Art can help bring the common purpose we need. Look at art during major crises such as British WW1 and WW2 and you’ll see how people were not only manipulated but marketing was used to change social norms, to help people cope with loss, running for air-raid shelters and going off abroad with a gun.
Where’s the posters for today’s crises? New York had one of the lowest incidences of Spanish Flu (which originated not far aways in the US mid-West) due to a long-running public health campaign on TB.
Where’s the Art? There’s some notable exceptions to the empty quality space that is climate art, some students ‘get’ it, look to art schools for good examples. Films like Burning Ice linked the arts to science. Artists learnt about climate change; scientists learnt how the message of change might be transmitted.
We need to get the knowledge and use our wisdom and skills to make Great Art. Art that informs, links us emotionally, allows us to care and to care for, to be kind to ourselves, each other and wider Nature. We need Art that explains and supports. We need Art, not War.