Climate change is one topic that many find difficult to grasp. While some people understand that it is an issue taking place they struggle to understand exactly how immediate this problem is. It is something that can be difficult to see with our own eyes as the world slowly changes. The oceans are another example. The oceans are in the worst health they have ever been and many sea life and sea plants are in danger. People can be told this, understand this, but still do little about it because they fail to grasp how quickly things are changing. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is one example as it is the world’s largest reef system but is in danger. Global climate change is causing a dramatic increase in water temperatures and is killing large parts of the coral. Something must be done. The first step is to create awareness and one artist has done that in a powerful way.
As with any issue, it is of little use to tell people that the coral reef is dying. It is better to show pictures that highlight how many parts of the coral were once brightly colored and have now been bleached. It would be even better if we could show this happening in real-time. In the last five years alone there have been three major bleaching events, all caused by increases in water temperature. This resulted in a whopping 60% of the coral reef losing its vibrant color and has put the rest in considerable danger. It is a serious problem that most people are devastated by when they hear it. Yet as they continue on with their day they forget the issue and present dangers.
Jason deCaires Taylor recently created a sculpture that won’t allow people to forget so easily. The sculpture is of a young girl standing on a pillar with a shell held above her head. She looks defiant. The pillar is in the ocean but she rises above the water level so that she is never hidden from sight. She is looking out to the sea in a combative stance. While a beautiful sculpture, there is a little more to it. The sculpture is actually linked to a weather reading in the Coral reef. It is constantly recording the temperature of the water and reflects the temperature in the color of the statue. If temperatures are fine then the stature remains dark blue. If the temperature increases then the statue will change to orange or red.
When the statue is red it is a clear warning to everyone that the coral is currently dying and something must be done. The statue of the girl is modeled on a local student and descendent of the indigenous Australian people. It is a powerful message that highlights the needs of nature and how we must do something to help this ongoing problem. It was the activities of humans that exacerbated this situation so it must be humans that step in to solve it.
The sculpture is part of a new underwater museum where a number of installations are actually on the seabed. The idea is that these installations will attract tourism from scuba divers but also bring new life to the area. The installations are all made in a way that supports a coral ecosystem with the idea that the installations will soon be overtaken by coral.
The sculpture is beautiful but the purpose it serves is far more important. There are many issues in the world that are not in our face every day but that doesn’t make them any less important. The coral reef of Australia is an issue for the world and we must work harder to save it.