Monthly Archives: June 2013

Arctic ice melting

BILL MCKIBBEN: It’s a great pleasure to be here with you, Paul. Since we’re talking about art, it’s worth saying that at some level, we’re engaged in a kind of planet-scale performance art project right now and the question it raises is, what happens if you pour an enormous quantity of carbon dioxide into the upper atmosphere? What happens is that the way the planet looks in every dimension begins to change, quite quickly. Last summer, for instance, our joint art project melted the Arctic. Eighty percent of the summer sea ice that was in the Arctic that was there 40 years ago is now gone. If you go stick a pH strip in the ocean now it comes out a different color than it did 40 years ago because the ocean is 30 percent more acidic. We’re taking the big physical features of the planet and changing them in the most profound, dangerous and horrifying ways. And one of the reasons that we’re doing it, or that the fossil fuel industry is able to get away with it, is because we don’t notice: it’s happening just slowly enough that it takes concentration to see it happening. Not always. When the subways fill up with the Atlantic Ocean as they did last October, it’s pretty obvious.

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