Eight Artists and Photographers Trying to Tackle Climate Change

Eight Artists and Photographers Trying to Tackle Climate Change

The UN predicts that we have only 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage from climate change, which would require serious involvement from people, politicians and businesses. We had a look at eight artists and photographers using their platform to highlight these issues and encourage this social change.

1. Olafur Eliasson

The Weather Project - the artificial sun in the turbine hall of the Tate Modern art gallery in London, part of the exhibition by Olafur Eliasson, October 2003. OE: Icelandic artist, b. 1967.
 The Weather Project / Bridgeman Images
Untitled, from the suite entitled ‘Cartographic Series’, 2000 (black ink photogravure print), Eliasson, Olafur (b.1967) / Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, USA / Emily Winthrop Miles Fund / Bridgeman Images

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson firmly believes that artists and other drivers of the cultural sector are more likely to create change in our society than politicians or economists.

In his Ice Watch (2014) twelve blocks of ice were transported from Greenland to Copenhagen City Hall’s square, where they were arranged in a clock formation. The ice took three days to melt, allowing people to interact with it, a stark reminder that people must wake up from ignoring climate change.  Ice Watch (2018) brought blocks of ice to London, coinciding with the meeting of world leaders at the COP24 climate change conference in Poland.

At his current exhibition at the Tate Modern in London, he puts a careful focus on trying to inspire action on the climate crisis.

2. Olly and Suzi

Hammerhead Shark Painting in Water, Galapagos, Olly & Suzi (b.1970) / Bridgeman Images
A shark biting a painting of a shark by Olly and Suzie
Olly & Suzi (b.1970) / Bridgeman Images

Olly and Suzi are British collaborative artists who track, paint, and photograph endangered species in the wild. Since 1993, they have taken part in more than 50 expeditions, sometimes even taking paw-prints or bite-marks from their animal of study.

3. Xavier Cortada

leverett, 2007, (ice from the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet, sediment from Antarctica’s Dry Valleys and mixed media on paper), Cortada, Xavier / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
Flags representing Japan, France, South Africa, Australia, Denmark, United States and United Kingdom placed on ice sheets surrounding Xavier Cortada's installation at the South Pole. The installation aims to highlight climate change. The installation will last for 150,000 years and will map the change to the ice sheets as a result of temperature changes.
LI Flags, 90◦S, Cortada, Cortada, Xavier / Bridgeman Images

Xavier Cortada is a Miami-based artist who often collaborates with scientists to highlight climate change.

Cortada’s Longitudinal Installation was set up in the South Pole in 2007 and in the North Pole in 2008. Cortada laid out 24 shoes in a circle to represent 24 longitudes, then walked up to each shoe and read a climate-related quote from a person living along the aligning longitude. For example, at 60° E, he read a quote by Iranian environmental researcher Alamdar Alamdari: “More than 90 percent of our wetlands have completely dried up.”

4. Eric Lafforgue

View of flooded hospital, Baringo county, Baringo, Kenya, Africa (photo) / Bridgeman Images
View of flooded hospital, Baringo county, Baringo, Kenya, Africa (photo) / Bridgeman Images
Children fishing on a tree covered by increased water, Baringo county, Baringo, Kenya, Africa (photo) / Photo © Eric Lafforgue / Bridgeman Images
Children fishing on a tree covered by increased water, Baringo county, Baringo, Kenya, Africa (photo) / Photo © Eric Lafforgue / Bridgeman Images

Eric Lafforge’s photography from his far-away travels has been featured in magazines such as National Geographic, Der Speigel, Le Monde, and Lonely Planet. His series on a flood in Baringo County, Kenya, highlights the very real effects of climate disaster on an area where agriculture provides income and employment for 80% of the population. According to a report by the World Bank, from 2021 – 2065 the climate will only get more inhospitable with a significant increase in temperatures, prolonged moisture stress, and increasingly variable rainfall.

5. Paul Powis

Pollution 2 (acrylic on board), Powis, Paul / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images

Paul Powis’ paintings use wonderful bright colours, but have a sombre side to highlight how our pollution is destroying our nature.

6. Tamas Galambos

Smog, 1976 (oil on canvas)

Tamas Galambos’ dystopian pieces use themes of death and destruction to warn us of the future consequences of our pollution.

7. National Geographic

High winds and a record-breaking heat wave led to damaging erosion in an unplanted cotton field (photo) / Robb Kendrick/National Geographic Image Collection / Bridgeman Images
Aerial view of icebergs and ice floes in the ocean (photo) / Tom Murphy/National Geographic Image Collection / Bridgeman Images

The National Geographic is a leading source of visual and factual information about climate disaster. The magazine have an unrivalled collection of photographs of floods, droughts, melting ice sheets and wildlife degradation.  

8. NASA

Satellite Orbiting Carbon Observatory / Photo © NASA/JPL/Novapix / Bridgeman Images
Earth: Arctic Ice Melting - 1983 - 2013 - Sea ice in Arctic - 1983 - 2013 - Ice Coverage in Arctic Regions September 13, 2013. Superimposed, the trace of the average size of the pack ice recorded by satellites from 1983 to 2013. The Arctic sea ice on September 12, 2013 with a yellow line identifying the 30 - year average extent
Arctic Ice Melting, 1983 – 2013. / Photo © NASA/GSFC/Novapix / Bridgeman Images

NASA pioneers new technologies in order to quantify and measure climate change over the years. Their satellites are able to record increases in global temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions, and tropical storms. They even have high-tech sensors that can collect data on the ocean, measuring surface temperature, wind direction, ice cover, sea level, and even marine life.

In the photo above, the trace of the arctic sea ice recorded by satellites from 1983 is superimposed on an image from 2013, showing significant melting that has occurred in the space of 30 years.

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