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Communicating climate change through art

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DESPITE wreaking havoc and threatening to tear the earth apart, climate change has inspired action, innovation and creativity.

BY PETER MAKWANYA

Works of art were created to get the message about the effects of climate change across a broad network and communicate effectively not only climate literacy and awareness, but resilience too.

Art takes various forms among them drawings, paintings and batiks, just to mention a few.

These artefacts have a direct and long-lasting impact on the human mind. The vivid and pictorial modes can influence and evoke mental images which are harnessed and stored in the human mind to form a strong network of experiences especially with regards to climate change impacts.

They also contribute to memories and experiences which are designed to correct human activities that have resulted in global warming accelerating to unimaginable proportions.

Art represents reality. It makes people conscious about nature and their surroundings. Drawing or painting, as a form of art, has a direct impact on the human emotions, which can culminate into behaviours and attitudes aligned to people’s lived experiences and worldview.

All these form a strong network of human needs, feelings and desires. Human beings do not just wish for a better, habitable and clean environment, but they want to be productive and resourceful.

Human experiences are fundamental in that they are derived from emotional appeals.

Works of art demonstrate how human beings conceptualise reality and make sense of the imaginary and real worlds.

Drawings or paintings are part of human desires which are powerful and influential in shaping human perceptions, livelihoods and opinions.

Art in this view, depicts human’s strong attachment to non-conflict resolution to environment issues.

Therefore, effective climate change communication is designed and portrayed through diagrams and visual representations, all derived from human experiences and interactions with nature.

Human beings have watched physical features and landscapes being affected by climate change and representations of the deterioration of forests, hills, mountains, streams and rivers among others, can be best captured and depicted through works of art.

Reference can also be made to extinct creatures and animal species that serve to depict a harsh and careless history.

Diagrams, drawings or paintings become part of a holistic network communicating unpleasant human narratives through intra and interpersonal, public and community lived experiences.

Art facilitates the communication of climate information effectively even to the less privileged, less literate, the forgotten and marginalised.
Drawings and paintings as popular forms of art are crosscutting, engaging, interactive and unifying hence they can appeal to a large number of people with amazing impact.

Works of art are critical in boosting human imaginations thereby bringing them closer to phenomena they have not realised before or experienced directly.

Art also makes the relationship between human beings and their physical world a reality, operational and highly illustrative.

In this regard, human beings use art to communicate and give answers to the environmental problems affecting their livelihoods.

Works of art do not usually depict or represent abstract phenomena, but real lived experiences and they also show concrete images which convince others that climate change is truly unfolding and impacting negatively on human survival.

Communicating climate change through art is a bright and creative way of telling the world that climate change is not always gloomy, hence it is packaged in a manner that can empower human livelihoods.

For these reasons, people get inspired and motivated to solve climate change problems, arrive at dependable solutions and achieve resilience.

Furthermore, works of art appeal to the four senses of human learning and experience.

From interacting with artworks, people can touch, feel, see, smell and have a taste (judge) of the products of art.

Art is an effective branch that can communicate climate science and enable the usually problematic and technical scientific information to become more accessible, user friendly and context specific.

From a broad network of channels and mediums used to communicate climate science information works of art facilitate and complement these in many progressive and empowering ways.

The only problem with art which makes it not sufficiently empowering is that it is judged subjectively, where biases may manifest, but otherwise it remains a critical component of communicating reality and lived experiences.

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