"Nude" Climate Calendar Pulled From London Museum: Should Nudity Be Used in Environmental Campaigns?

Image: Too hot to be natural history? (Flipside Vision)

The Natural History Museum in London has refused to sell an educational calendar featuring a year's worth climate change-related images due to reservations that parts of the calendar are "not in line with the message of the museum," though the "offensive" images are relatively small.

Of course, nudity can come in many forms, and the line between artful and distasteful can be rather hazy. In glossy ads of idealized female (and male) bodies, you've got suggestive advertisements that subtly take advantage of our insecurities (or worse) and are typically objectifying in one way or another. (Huge and explicit American Apparel ads, I'm talking about you.)

Then you've got what seems to be gaining traction in some environmental circles these days — a more tasteful nudity that bares the urgency of the issue at hand — from "Ecobabe" calendars to PETA's recent anti-fur campaign. But what about this particular calendar?The almanac in question is Flipside Vision's "carbon neutral" 2009 Calendar of Climate Change — printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks and featuring removable date areas, meaning that it is also reusable. However, unlike these other "eco-nude" campaigns, their express purpose is to donate a percentage of the proceeds to a charity, Stop Climate Chaos, and to use the calendar (which has informative blurbs and statistics printed on every month) as an educational resource to raise climate change awareness.

Though it's the Museum's prerogative to decide what is and what is not acceptable to sell in their store, Diana Korchien, director of Flipside Vision, counters that "[her] belief is that 'natural history' by definition is about showing nature in its natural state, and that includes us, as human beings." Their press release notes that the Natural History Museum's human biology gallery itself also "contains pictures and models of the naked human body and is widely visited by children and school parties learning aspects of human development and growth." So why not the calendar?

But perhaps it's all nude or nothing. The offending two images are of World Naked Bike Ride, an annual event that raises awareness about our dependency on fossil fuels, and the other photograph is taken by Spencer Tunick, who collaborated with Greenpeace to gather hundreds of naked volunteers to pose at the edge the rapidly receding Aletsch glacier, which has retreated 100 metres in only one year. Though these images may be eyebrow-raising (wait, they had two "naked" seals and a penguin in the calendar too), but these lone images aren't any more sensational than some of the climate change statistics mentioned throughout the calendar's pages.

So this ultimately brings us to the question: given the increasing importance of climate and environmental issues, what do you think about nudity in environmental campaigns? Is it effective or does it divert attention too much? Objectifying or not? Thought-provoking? We'd love to hear your views on this sometimes touchy subject.

Flipside Vision via press release (you can purchase the calendar here; 50% proceeds go to Stop Climate Chaos)

Related Links on Nudity and Environmentalism
Calendar of Climate Change 2007
Swiss Against Climate Change
Ecobabes. Now They'll Take Notice!
Girls Gone Green — An Eco Calendar for Charity
Celebrities Would Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur (PETA print ads)
I'd Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur Campaign (PETA.tv video)

Tags: Charities | Photography

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