artsy climate

Arts Help Bridge Climate Change Data into Meaning

A blog post over on University of Arizona’s Southwest Climate Change Network

Earlier this summer, I volunteered at the 2012 International Conference on Climate Adaptation, hosted by the University of Arizona. The conference focused on how, now that we recognize that we live on a warming planet, our species might adapt to and live with the effects of this warming.

I wandered through the conference as an outsider—a writer surrounded by scientists, academics, and policy makers. I was interested to soak up information from those on the front lines, those that measure, implement, quantify. I learned about water policy in Israel; municipal programs in Quito, Ecuador; drought in the Colorado River Basin.

I learned. I wrote down lots of information. I scrawled the names of studies to look up later on the internet. At the end of my first day, I went home with a notebook full of notes; the notebook landed on my desk, in a pile of similar notebooks full of similar notes. I wasn’t sure what to do with all this information. What purpose did it serve me? Did it offer a new depth of understanding, a new way to look at the same problem—that is, how our species will come to terms with this change we’ve wrought upon the planet, how we might mitigate its causes and adapt to its effects?

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