There’s an overfamiliar-yet-fresh feel to the film Earthrise, documenting the moment humans first photographed Earth appearing behind the moon. Familiar because, raised on images and imaginations of manned space exploration as it happened, I’ve seen this photograph so many times: the small, watery rock teeming with invisible life. Fresh because the film lets us see back through the eyes of three elderly men who were there then, alone: emerging from profound blackness never experienced before, after hours scanning endless, dead grey dust no one had yet walked on – and feeling their eyeballs flood with the only colour to be had anywhere: first sight of distant home. It moved them then, fifty years ago this December, and you can see it move them now, looking back.Continue reading “msb ~048 Earthrise, again”
I value my memory of the blistering critique I received when speaking to environmental experts about sometimes having to ‘let go’ of loved sites of natural or cultural heritage as the contradictions of trying to ‘hold back’ historic climate change become starker: “Wooly-minded fudge!” Particular scorn came when I mentioned ‘palliative curation’. Many of the ideas we’re going to have to explore are contentious, even provocative, so my only complaint is that I’d done a poor job explaining the possibilities. Continue reading “msb ~043 Palliative curation”
Scanning notes from events I’ve helped organise, I came across this list — almost a collaborative prose poem — of evocative objects that participants brought, sharing feelings on our climate predicaments.Continue reading “msb ~042 Evocative objects”
Thinking about those moments when I’ve really encountered wild animals, I realise there are very few true moments. Beyond the ‘background wild’, I mean. Yes, crows call from trees as I pass beneath, a deer runs from me in the woods; or I spy a fox just sitting in the sunlit field, watching its world. The spiders and flies and (when there was a cat) fleas in the house. Very few true moments: encountering something wild encountering me, when we break through the veil and see each other across the divide.Continue reading “msb ~029 Beyond the background wild #1”
In this Edge Effects interview, Lauren Groff offers perspective for any ‘climate fiction’ writer feeling environmental despair even while celebrating nature. “My only talent is as a writer. That’s the only thing I can do. So now I feel as though I am being immoral if I am not addressing it somehow in my work. Of course, I write literary fiction, so it can’t be polemical. If it’s polemical, I’ve failed. I need to do something more scalpel-like, something a little bit sideways.”Continue reading “msb ~019 Tell it slant”
Next month sees Climate Action North East’s conference, Rewilding the Future and I wish I were going. One of our leading naturalists, Chris Packham will be talking to businesses about opportunities for restoring our ecosystems. I worked with Climate North East during my time at the UK Climate Impacts Programme; so I know it will be a successful event. Not just a talking shop, it will feature three ‘mini-hacks’ to come up with perspectives, inspiration and action:Continue reading “msb ~017 Rewilding the future”
It’s great to see Creative Carbon Scotland putting the case for the arts in helping society anticipate, adapt to and tackle the impacts of our changing climate. Their latest event seeks to bring creative practitioners into the heart of the debate, with a consultation event on 27th August. This builds on the work CCS did last year, responding to the Scottish Government on a Cultural Strategy. Among the many excellent points (and demonstrations of good practice) in their response, what stood out for me was the short section that started with this declaration: “There is an absolutely essential role for art to ‘get out of its box, into other boxes, and get other people into art’s boxes’.”Continue reading “msb ~014 A duty to collaborate”
A year ago on ClimateCultures, I discussed a book I’d first encountered in 2011 and have been using ever since. Anticipatory history arose from an interdisciplinary network, exploring possibilities in ‘looking back’ at environmental change to help us ‘look forward’ to what futures we might shape. I was doing my MA Climate Change at the time and, in the network’s latter stages, I was able to contribute some work on ‘storying adaptation’ to their final symposium. Continue reading “msb ~013 On anticipatory history”
One of the projects I’m working on at the moment, mostly in the guise of web editor and researcher, is Finding Blake. Set up by Cambridge-based film maker James Murray-White, the project is a creative exploration of the relevance of William Blake, 18th/19th-century poet, artist, radical and visionary, for us today: reimagining our present predicaments through the lens of his work.
I’m reading Future Remains: a cabinet of curiosities for the Anthropocene and one entry has collided with my imagination. Gary Kroll’s Snarge is a meditation on the impact – literally and metaphorically – between human and non-human in The Great Acceleration that is our age.
Snarge, he explains is the term naturalists use for “the avian tissue that’s left over after a bird-strike … a horrible word that onomatopoeically conveys the peculiarly destructive violence of acceleration in the Anthropocene.”