Why do we all keep leaving the lights on, driving our cars and hopping on airplanes when we know full well it's damaging the environment? There may be several answers to this question: necessity, convenience, selfishness? The connection between behavioural change and climate change is a complex issue that many people are trying to get to grips with.
One of them is artist Francesca Galeazzi who was part of the recent Cape Farewell expedition to the Arctic along with Graham Hill and beatboxer Schlomo. On the trip into the pristine wilderness Galeazzi tackled the problem of our conscious bad environmental behaviour head on with a controversial act of deliberate sabotage...Releasing 6 kg of pure CO2
In one provocative move Galeazzi took a cyclinder containing 6kg of pure CO2, placed it in the most beautiful untouched place she could find and opened the valve. All the CO2 was directly released into the atmosphere in front of the Cape Farewell team and crew, all of whom had travelled to the Arctic in order to help in the fight against climate change.
Some described Galeazzi's performance piece as environmental vandalism, but then we could also levy this accusation at all the people who travelled to the arctic on the Cape Farewell expedition in the first place. Who together emitted a great deal more than 6kg of CO2, the equivalent of a 25 mile car journey, in their efforts to get there.
Offsetting Justifies Behaviour
The key part of Galeazzi's art work entitled 'Justifying Bad Behaviour' was the fact that the artist had offset her 6kg cylinder of CO2 before she even set out on the trip, therefore presumably justifying her bad behaviour. But of course it surely isn't that simple, as the controversy surrounding the viability of carbon offsetting schemes has proved.
What was the Point?
In an interview with the RSA magazine Francesca Galeazzi discusses her motivations for her art work:
I wanted to throw a comment on why society is so resistant to change. Instead of embracing change, we are inventing new mechanisms to greenwash our consciences, in a way. I didn’t want to say that carbon offsetting is bad because I believe it plays a role within our strategy to tackle climate change. But not as a starting point. It can come in when we’ve done all we can to reduce carbon emissions, all we can to think about the way we use resources, recycle, we produce waste. Only then we can begin to offset our carbon emissions… but not at the start. I’m not being preachy. I am no less guilty about this than anyone. I fly to my home in Italy sometimes. But we keep on doing the same things over and over. So there was also a kind of question there.
To read the full interview go to the RSA website.
RSA Arts & Ecology
More on Cape Farewell:
Cape Farewell: A New Expedition Sets Sail
Making Stuff Cool, Making Stuff Uncool: Why Cultural Change is Key
The Masterful Beatboxing Shlomo: Music Without Instruments
Cape Farewell: Raising Climate Change Awareness Through Art