Paris Street residency: 4
2 October 2018
Those sunny postcards of Plymouth that I posted a few weeks ago? I spent a happy/disturbed couple of weeks painting scenes of catastrophic sea level rise obliterating parts of Plymouth.
Scientists, writers and psychologists have spent years trying to work out why, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, we often choose to deny the truth or simply remain inactive when we think about the future and climate change. It may be that we thought it would be ‘some time in the future’, many models used to show things happening ‘at the end of this century’, which of course is too far away for many of us to contemplate. Perhaps we thought everything would be all right until then?
Painting these scenes, I found it all too easy to imagine this happening. In some of them, for good measure, I imagined the sea having disappeared, and a drought-ridden landscape replacing our seaside, but the models predict the opposite. We are supposed to try to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, but the chances are we are already set on a course for at least twice if not three times that. Sea levels will possibly rise by metres, not centimetres. If melting ice from Greenland disrupts the Gulf Stream, as it seems to be doing, Great Britain faces a possible future climate not of sun-drenched Mediterranean summers like the one we’ve just had, but of a climate similar to Newfoundland, since we are at the same latitude. We might see giant icebergs on our shores. Other models suggest that the currents will simple chuck more heat into the atmosphere instead of it being buried in the ocean. We can’t know for sure, but things will change.
I’m an artist, not a scientist. I don’t pretend to know what will happen in the future, but the footage of flooding in North Carolina last month looked eerily similar to some of my postcards.
101 of them hit the streets, shops, venues and phone boxes of Plymouth as part of #PlymouthFutures for Plymouth Art Weekender and The Atlantic Project.
You can see all of them here
Let me know if you find one.