If you haven’t seen in the news, two artists, Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd reprogrammed New York’s Metronome clock in Manhattan. It now displays the amount of time we have left to act on climate change before it is too late.
Last week, Saturday, September 20th, a message flashed across the screen that read “The Earth has a deadline”. We have roughly seven years to act, according to the countdown clock, which is based on numbers by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change. The goal of the project was to engage people who might not always think about climate change and the implications a warming planet has on our future.
Because today is the last day of the installation in Union Square, I thought it was a good idea to take a closer look at this shocking piece of art.
While most people who recognize the irreversible effects of climate change were in support of the climate countdown clock, I have seen a few arguments against it. The critics say that it induces crippling eco-anxiety.
Eco-anxiety is a relatively new term that came about as more and more people began reporting anxiety, stress, or depression about the future of the climate. The American Psychological Association defines it as “a chronic fear of environmental doom.” Eco-anxiety is not a clinical disorder, but it can be a healthy response to the problem that is the climate crisis, Ciara Nugent discovered.
The arguments against the climate countdown clock say that we should avoid spreading eco-anxiety as it solely impacts low-income communities.
I think it is incredibly important to remember that the effects of the climate crisis disproportionately affect low income and marginalized communities. However, as Ciara Nugent found, I think eco-anxiety is a necessity. The countdown clock is placed in a very affluent area to target wealthier individuals who do not face the ill effects of climate change daily. It aims to bring awareness to the fact that this is a problem that equalizes us. We need to act together.
The critique of the project brings up another point that reminds us that 71% of all emissions are from 100 corporations. I recognize that individual action will never be enough; however, I disagree when the argument says that targeting individuals only induces eco-anxiety. While personal action may not have the desired impact on the climate, public lobbying to lawmakers is impactful. Once lawmakers are aware of the concerns of their constituents, they are more likely to vote in favor of or against certain issues. And if they don’t, we vote them out.
I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that the more people get involved in climate change and politics, the better. If protecting the planet doesn’t motivate you, then maybe protecting yourself will. The longer we wait and refuse to act, the more natural disasters will occur and the more diseases will spread. Be worried, be scared, but let that encourage you to act. Inaction’s only result is the end of the world as we know it.
(Have a thought? Leave a comment! I would love to start a dialogue about your thoughts on the climate change countdown.)