Our oceans are rising, our marine wildlife is under severe threat – and never has what we eat has such a damaging impact on the world around us. To mark World Environment Day, Google and the UN have today launched a series of digital artworks that highlight the stark reality of global climate change.
Following a landmark UN report on the effects of 1.5C warming above pre-industrial levels, Google Arts & Culture’s ‘Heart of the Earth’ project has brought five artists together to explore its key conclusions through the medium of digital art.
If ‘climate data’ is often a byword for impenetrable graphs and charts, these free online artworks put a dazzling spin on the report’s findings, along with numbers from the World Meteorological Organisation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to shine a spotlight on rising sea levels, declining ocean life, food consumption and melting glaciers.
Photograph: Timo Aho and Pekka Niittyvirta / Google Arts & Culture
Cristina Tarquini’s ‘Acidifying Ocean’ shows how rising CO2 levels are causing coral bleaching, while fish species disappear and jellyfish populations, conversely, boom. ‘Coastline Paradox’, by Timo Aho and Pekka Niittyvirta, meanwhile, explores the effects on cities of predicted sea level rises and the number of people likely to be displaced as a result.
In ‘Timelines’, photographer Fabian Oefner uses drone imagery to capture the dramatic retreat of the Rhône and Trift glaciers in Switzerland over the past 140 years. And the final artwork, Laurie Frick’s ‘What We Eat’, examines the carbon footprint of individuals’ diets through hand-drawn colour-coded visualisations.
One positive side effect of the worldwide shutdown is that’s provided us with an excellent opportunity to rethink our relationship with the planet. As if we needed any reminding, these artworks show there’s a helluva lot at stake.