By Bjorn Sturmberg
We generally hear climate change discussed as a technical challenge that will be solved with bigger wind turbines, more electric cars, less steak and fewer flights. The mission is nothing more, and nothing less, than to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent units.
As a physicist, this computes for me, but over the past year, I’ve begun to look at things differently.
I’m part of An artist, a farmer and a scientist walk into a bar, an unusual arts initiative in Australia designed to challenge and change the relationships we have with the land. My project – one of eight – involves working with a sculptor and two horticulturists to explore creative ways of harnessing solar energy on farms.
Things began with a visit to a drought-stricken farm in the shadows of the Blue Mountains escarpment west of Sydney, where the shallowness of the simplistic technical response to climate change took root.
Then, as the project involved me in more conversations with artists and other collaborators, a number of things struck me.
The first was the attentiveness and genuine value placed on the artistic process. You can hear this whenever an artist refers to their "art practice" instead of their "art". This seems to me to be powerfully linked to artists’ comfort in constantly working with a blank page; with a loose scope; with uncertainty.
Farmers too are deeply embedded in a perpetual process of tending to their living, breathing, never static landscapes.
As we rush into our uncertain future – with its changing climate, changing technologies, and changing demographics – the rest of us (especially us science types) would do well to give greater attention to the processes we adopt when we engage with issues.
Appreciating the process keeps us focussed on continually asking good questions and pursuing best possible solutions. It also helps sustain motivation through our multi-year challenges.
The adjustment in perspective is nicely...