On Earth Day, April 22, the Charles L. Brown Science & Engineering Library will present a slide show exhibition documenting creation of an art project designed by students in the Environmental Sciences class “Write Climate, Right Climate” taught by climate scientist Deborah Lawrence. The project seeks to communicate a sense of urgency to the public, enlisting the power of art to raise awareness about the consequences of climate change.
The students started the project just outside the entrance to Brown library in the mural room of Clark Hall. Early in the Spring semester, Lawrence’s class engaged about 1,500 members of the UVA community to write down their concerns about climate change, “bits of science, policy, hopes, fears and solutions,” and pinned the messages written on colored paper to panels, forming the number “2030”—the year set by the United Nations for achieving the seventeen goals in its Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In Central Africa, achieving one of the goals: making “cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable,” will require preventing an increase in the number of days the temperature exceeds 102 degrees Fahrenheit. In the years 1979–2012 the nations of Central Africa averaged about 20 days of temperatures over 102 degrees. By the second half of the century the number of days will increase to well over 100—156 days in the Republic of Congo. “It’s not just that agriculture will suffer,” Lawrence says, “it’s that people won’t want to live there. So where are they going to go?”
The class project will culminate on Earth Day with the official opening of a display the students have created in front of Peabody Hall. They had help from a familiar face in Alderman Library. Artist Amanda Nelsen who was Director of Programs & Education at Rare Book School from 2010–2018 helped design the display made up of messages inserted into discarded plastic bottles, in effect sending the public a collective message-in-a-bottle—warning that plastic releases gas as it degrades. The hotter the climate, the more methane is released, the hotter the climate becomes, and so on.
Please attend the opening in front of Peabody Hall at 5:00 p.m., April 22. There will be free food, and poet Trace DePass who directs the Climate Speaks youth poetry program of the Climate Museum in New York City will perform.
And when you go to Brown Science & Engineering Library, take time to see the slide show exhibition featuring images of how students have united the worlds of art and science to serve the earth. The exhibition will run from April 22 through April 26.