Blog: Earth as Community – The Waters Are Coming.

The Waters Are Coming, April 2023 (Photo: Phil Barton)

How can we as humans make sea level rise less of an abstract, far away concept and more visible to ourselves as a real and present challenge? But how can we do this without being overcome by paralysis that the challenges are too big for us as individuals to cope with? How can we learn knowledge to drive action?

Art is an excellent way in. My artist civil partner has created an Installation: The Waters Are Coming using fountains in shopping centres and parks. The fountains can be programmed to rise and fall to emulate the rise and fall of the tides around the world. In this Installation in Granary Square, Kings Cross, London, the fountain programming demonstrated a what  a two-metre sea level rise will look like physically – we are all thinking in terms of centimetres at the moment. The fountains were also marked to show twently low lying cities and countries around the world which will be inundated by the rising sea levels.

It is a sobering display, reading the list of cities – from Shanghai to Mumbai, from Lagos to Santiago.

But it is also life and art together. Children love these fountains and love running in and out of them and they pay no heed to the artists’ craft or art, as Dylan Thomas describes. They simply run and play on.

For us adult humans watching, we can try to reflect so that the knowledge of sea level rise enters our bones and motivates us to take action. In Journey to Hopeful Futures: A Handbook I echo the call for wise and urgent action for the future. Installations, such as the Waters are Coming can help build understanding, motivate us, as individuals and in communities, to build Earth as Community, together.

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