Tag: environment

Ghost Food – Experience How We Might Eat After Global Warming

Ghost Food – Experience How We Might Eat After Global Warming

Two years ago, the cost of peanut butter went up, due to a lower supply of peanuts due to severe heat and drought.  In the discussion about climate change, our food supply and food security are named as a growing problem, and that 2050 is the tipping point for when our supply will not meet our demand.

GhostFood is an interactive art project created by artists Miriam Simun and Miriam Songster which presents an experience of how we might eat in the future.  For the project,  a food truck offers a menu with food substitutes for 3 foods that would be affected by global warming.  The menu lists cod, chocolate, and peanut butter.  A visitor can order a food sample, which comes in a white tray and a thin tubelike mask that allows you to smell what you are supposed to eat.

Once the mask is on, the visitor is able to smell the food that they ordered, in a small round piece that is soaked in synthetic chocolate, cod, or peanut butter.

Both Simun and Songster have done past projects with food and smell.  GhostFood is meant to present a simulation of how food might be experienced if it is no longer available.

The press release for the project describes the experience as:

“When you get to the front of the line, ask for the cod, and rest assured that the food substitute served is fish-less and made from climate-change resilient ingredients. Your flavor experience will be delivered by a GhostFood server.

If you inquire, you might learn that the potential future of the codfish as an ocean ghost is the result of a future mass drowning. Cod eggs that the female fish release into our oceans can no longer float in surface waters due to decreasing salinity levels in an Atlantic that is warming.

GhostFood serves this post-extinction sidewalk snack hoping that when you float in the ocean next summer you will consider that buoyant feeling a little differently.”

The project premiered as part of the DesignPhilly event on October 9, 2013.

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Sonia Rentsch – Images of Guns made from Natural Materials

Sonia Rentsch – Images of Guns made from Natural Materials

Artist and illustrator  Sonia Rentsch often works with objects and photography to make images that exist somewhere between realism and abstraction.  Earlier this year, she created a series of objects made of natural materials like seed pods, leaves, and sticks to represent the form of guns, grenades, bullets and other weapons.   The series of images were titled “Harm Less,” and present both beauty, violence, as well as man and nature.

The objects were photographed for the magazine January Biannual by Albert Comper and are printed in an edition of 25. The images are simple but present big questions about the relationship of violence, nature, and man.

You can see more of the images on the Harm-Less area of Rentsch’s website.  Rentsch also works as part of the creative group Moth Design, which does exhibition and product design.
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Earth Day: Where Are We Now?

Earth Day: Where Are We Now?

Today is Earth Day – the day that marks what is considered by many to be the birth of the modern environmental movement.  In 1970 cars were big, factories pumped out smoke and sludge, and air pollution was visible in many cities.   Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, who was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, witnessed the ravages of the massive 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.   Inspired by the rising student anti-war movement going on at the time, he realized that a similar type of energy could be applied to developing public consciousness about air and water pollution.  Nelson told the national media that there was going to be a national teach-in on the environment worked to assemble a national staff of 85 people to promote Earth Day events across the country.

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans went outside to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for the health of our natural environment.  There were thousands of colleges and universities that organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Other groups rallied around issues such as oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness areas, and the extinction of wildlife.

Out of the first Earth Day, the United States Environmental Protection was created.  The  Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts were created.

Since 1970, there has been some years when there were campaigns for Earth day which included 1910 when Earth Day went global and mobilized 200 million people in 141 countries to rally around the environment. Earth Day 1990 helped promote recycling efforts worldwide.  In 2000, Earth day focused on global warming and used the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a talking drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa while hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

The environmental moved has shifted from protests and conflict to legislation.  I am a member of several environmental groups, and I get a few emails each week that ask me to sign a petition or send a message to my senator or representative.

My students seem to have a “take it or leave it” view about the environment.   I have some students that say that they “hate recycling” and that global warming is a made up issue.  They have grown up with a barrage of messages about being green, recycling, and the environment and for many of them this has made many of  them feel apathetic about these issues.

Where are we now?  Fracking is coming to Ohio, one of my students made a anti-recyling video,  and I got 2 emails  to sign petitions in my inbox.

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csudigitalhumanities.org (Image of Cleveland in 1970 and 2012)

Environmentalism History: Rachel Carson’s Book Silent Spring 50 Years Later Podcast

Environmentalism History: Rachel Carson’s Book Silent Spring 50 Years Later Podcast

2012 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring.  This book which was first published in 1962 is credited with sparking the beginning of the modern environmental movement, especially in the United States. Silent Spring addressed the effects of pesticides on the environment, focusing primarily on birds.  Carson critiqued the chemical industry of spreading incorrect information, and government officials of accepting industry reports that were inaccurate.  The book supported the development of environmental consciousness and led to the regulation of pesticide use in North America and Europe.

Rachel Carson was a scientist, writer, and ecologist.  She worked for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and wrote radio scripts during the Depression.  She also wrote feature articles on natural history for the Baltimore Sun. She was a scientist and eventually became Editor-in-Chief of all publications for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She did a variety of writing, which included pamphlets on conservation and natural resources, scientific articles, and also nonfiction articles in popular publications such as the Atlantic Monthly.

Carson was attacked by some individuals in government and in the chemical industry as being an alarmist, but her voice served to remind us that we are a vulnerable part of the natural world subject, and that we can experience the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem.

In order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring Mark Wilson, a PhD candidate at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, England recorded a podcast that explores the significance of the book.  Wilson has written a study which compares the response to Silent Spring in the US and Britain.  The Podcast is on the Environmental History Resource Website and can be streamed from the site.

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Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson


Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson

Silent Spring

Silent Spring at 50: a Comparison Perspective Podcast 


DOCUMERICA: Images of America in Crisis in the 1970s

DOCUMERICA: Images of America in Crisis in the 1970s

At the end of the 1960’s, the rapid development of industry and the unchecked land development began to take a noticeable toll on the environment. Air, noise, and water pollution seemed to be on the rise, and people began to call for action.

In November 1971, the newly created Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a massive photo documentary project to record these changes.  Called DOCUMERICA, more than 100 photographers were hired to document specific environmental issues, to capture images of everyday life, and to show that moment in history. By 1974, more than 80,000 photographs had been produced.  The images framed environmental problems such as noise, water and air pollution, but also health problems and social decay.
The project also collected images of American making changes and creating positive change in their surroundings.

The project was the United States first serious examination of the decay of the natural environment   Gifford Hampshire was the EPA Project director for DOCUMERICA and described the inspiration of the project as, “It was an exciting time. The public was expecting results.”  Hampshire wrote in his memoir that the EPA had worked to close down the big offenders of industrial pollution, but that it became clear that ordinary people were responsible for many pollution issues.

The project was geographic in nature, with photographers working in one area of the U.S. usually where they lived and worked as professional photographers.  Exhibits of the images were shown at EPA facilities and other small venues until the early 1980s.

The images are really eye-opening today.  Images of cities with smog, subways with graffiti, a town with 4 nuclear reactors in the background – paint a picture of the environment as it was in the 1970s. Looking at them today also shows that we have made some progress in terms of protecting the environment, and in dealing with pollution.

The images can be seen on the Documerica Catalogue website, and there is also a great selection of 46 images on the Atlantic’s website.

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DOCUMERICA  Images of Crisis and Cure in the 1970s

Archival Research Catalogue – Documerica

46 selected pictures on The Atlantic DOCUMERICA: Images of America in Crisis in the 1970s