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Metaphors and Images of Climate Control Jim Fleming Colby College Historically informed metaphors and evocative visual images.

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Presentation on theme: "Metaphors and Images of Climate Control Jim Fleming Colby College Historically informed metaphors and evocative visual images."— Presentation transcript:

1 Metaphors and Images of Climate Control Jim Fleming Colby College Historically informed metaphors and evocative visual images reveal attitudes and assumptions about climate control otherwise hidden by technical language and scientific diagrams. This presentation examines the metaphorical claims of planetary surgeons and, through images of planetary control, renders the unimaginable at least visible.

2 Climate is invisible Even to climate scientists!

3 After seven years of drought, Lake Powell currently holds only 50 percent of the water it did in Schmidt and Wolfe, Climate Change: Picturing the Science, 2009.

4 The rock is visibly marked by a ‘bathtub ring,’ a reminder of wetter times. © PETER ESSICK.” Commentary: While the focus of the image is on the dry cracked mud in the foreground, a product of recent dry conditions, the landscape itself was carved some 11 to 5 million years ago by the uplift and erosion of ancient rock layers deposited in sea sediments some 300 million years ago. Thus the horizontal layers in the mountain ridge depict vast environmental and climatic changes of sea level over millions of years. Wetter times indeed!

5 After seven years of drought, Lake Powell currently holds only 50 percent of the water it did in Schmidt and Wolfe, Climate Change: Picturing the Science, 2009.

6 Master Metaphor The Planet is a body, especially a sick patient or addict

7 The Planet is Sick, Suffering from overconsumption

8 Medicalization of global warming. Bert Bolin, John Houghton, and Luiz Gylvan Meira Filhov are caricatured. Nature 455 (2008).

9 In the image, three middle-aged white guys wearing ties are diagnosing Earth’s CO2-induced fever. Africa and India are clearly suffering, with the thermometer inserted somewhere near Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. La Jolla, California is another possible thermometer insertion point 180 degrees away. But diagnosis is not cure. If Earth needs treatment, what is the proper medicine and who signs the consent form for the planet? Or does Earth need invasive surgery?

10 James Lovelock once likened geoengineering to crude planetary surgery, as practiced by the butcher/barber surgeons of old. According to Lovelock, “Our ignorance of the Earth system is overwhelming […] the best option may simply be kind words and letting Nature take its course.”

11 Climate Engineers are Planetary Surgeons

12 Master Metaphor The Planet is a machine…

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14 DynamicsThermodynamics OceansTopography ChemistryIndustry Albedo Modification?

15 Master Metaphor The Planet has control knobs… They need to be adjusted

16 The Planet Has a Thermostat? A male hand, god-like in scale, is on the thermostat Thermostat is “nowhere,” perhaps in outer space The thermostat dial is centered on Roswell, NM

17 Master Metaphor The Planet can be “Fixed” by technocrats

18 Artist: Frederick Siebel

19 The quest to control or “fix” the sky is both powerful and perennial. Metaphors and images of climate control can clarify the message, help bridge the gap between knowledge and action, and empower activism and real opposition to a very silly notion. Snowpiercer…

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