2020 29 x 42” 73 x 106 cm Acrylic on Canvas
The catastrophic forest fires we are hearing about so often in the news recently are not solely caused by Climate Change. Like almost anything the situation is nuanced. We are increasingly moving our homes into forested areas, and often not allowing smaller, more controlled fires to burn off the naturally accumulating deadwood on the forest floors. However, there is absolutely no question that years of drought, and record heat waves caused by Climate Change, have contributed greatly to the unprecedented catastrophic nature of many fires today.
“Pandora's Trojan Horse; Exploring Issues around Climate Change,” is a series that grew out of a love of this wonderful planet we call home, and fear for the future of its Climate. The Horse draws inspiration from Greek Mythology, the goddess Pandora opened a jar and released all of the evils into the world. The Trojan Horse represents a threat, hidden behind the benefits of industrial expansion. The devil’s horns, cloven hooves, and tail as well as a map of the world complete the facade of this magnificent Horse Chimera, which on the outside looks wonderful. But like the lure of unrestrained industrial growth, Pandora’s Trojan Horse brings with it a hidden risk.
2016 27 x 45” 89 x 114 cm Acrylic on Canvas
The focus on the bottom line and stock holders have lead many companies, and their executives to make decisions based solely on profit. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution over 200 years ago, there has not been enough consideration for the harm we are doing to our environment. Time and population increases have compounded this problem, and the massive ball of Climate Change, has begun to roll. We have broken the inertia and now we must globally, and as individuals, and families, make an effort to clean up our environment, and slow the speed of Climate Change, and Global Warming. As Kermit the frog once said “It’s not easy being Green.” Sometimes the smart path is not the easiest in the short term, but instead it is the easiest in the long term. We are already faced with increasing global problems from heat waves, droughts, fires, floods, hurricanes, rising sea levels, melting permafrost, and storms. The more ice melt we have at the poles, the more sunlight hits the dark water, and the dark land instead of reflecting off of the white snow and ice. The more this happens, the more the permafrost melts in the Arctic and Antarctic, which releases massive amounts of stored C02, which again compounds the problem of Global Warming. Human activity since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, has entered us into a dangerous feedback loop. It is critical to take steps to slow Climate Change now, because the ball is rolling, and the faster Climate Change occurs, the harder it is going to be to stop it in the future. I hope to generate thoughtful discourse by creating environmentally conscious art for sale in the USA, and Canada.
2015 28 x 45” 71 x 115 cm Acrylic on Canvas
Oceans cover 70 percent of the surface of our planet. Tiny algae and phytoplankton are abundant throughout the ocean, a drifting nearly invisible forest. Through photosynthesis these tiny plants use the energy of the sun to grow, and produce oxygen which is released into the atmosphere. The ocean, and these tiny plants are the lungs of the planet, producing well over half of the oxygen that you inhale with every breath you take. It is common sense that we must take care of our precious oceans.
The health of the oceans and the food chains in them are under stress after a couple of centuries of abuse beginning with the industrial revolution in the late 1700s. Since then human activity has released between 1.5 and 2 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, (C02), into the atmosphere. About a quarter of that, or 550 Billion Tons of C02 have been absorbed into the oceans. For almost 2 centuries the oceans absorbed, and to some extent was able to mitigate this influx of Carbon dioxide. However in recent decades the CO2 being released into the atmosphere has skyrocketed, and the ocean is reaching its saturation point. In 2008 the Earth’s Oceans reached a level of Acidity, not seen in the last 35 million years, and it has become more acidic every year since then.
This acidification is already causing problems. Around 2005 the shellfish farming industry began experiencing areas of die offs along the Pacific Coast in Canada and the United States. At the same time the hatcheries had no oyster seeds, (hatchlings) to send out to restock the oyster farms, because all the hatchlings were dying, and natural seeding from wild oysters had virtually ceased. After a few bad years and some research it was discovered that the very young oysters simply could not survive in the elevated levels of acidity now occurring in pockets of the Pacific Northwest. The hatcheries could no longer take untreated water from the ocean into its tanks to grow oyster hatchlings, they had to treat the water first, after that the young oysters thrived and once they had passed the vulnerable young stage, they could survive in the more acidified coastal waters. If the Ocean continues to become more acidic however this may only be a short term fix. Oysters, mussels, clams, and of course the coral reefs themselves which form much of the tropical fish habitat, undergo a condition much like osteoporosis in humans as the acid level in the ocean becomes elevated. They have difficulty forming their shells and exoskeletons, and even when they do survive they are in a stressed more vulnerable condition.
As the caretakers of this planet we have allowed our oceans to cross over a threshold and they are in the early stages of Ocean Acidification. We have altered the PH balance of the entire ocean with a 30 % increase in acidity since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and if C02 emissions continue unchecked we could face a 100 % increase in acidity by the end of this century. There are growing dead zones in the ocean, areas where pollution, acidification and ocean warming have killed the fish, the shell fish, the coral reefs, the seaweed, the only thing that thrives in these ‘dead zones’ is jellyfish. We are putting at risk a global fishing industry worth over 100 billion dollars annually, an industry that is a significant employer worldwide, and threatening the security of the world’s food supply. This does not even touch upon the tourism or moral implications. “Hey Billy, let’s go snorkeling with the jellyfish!” We must begin taking care for our planet and our oceans, if we don’t take care of them, they can’t take care of us.
2015 30.5 x 39” 77 x 99 cm Acrylic on Canvas
Fresh water as global resource is not well managed, but we all need it to live. We must begin to treat water as the truly precious resource that it is. Climate Change is just one piece in a very complex puzzle of threats to our fresh water. Glaciers form over decades, centuries, and millennia, in cold temperatures from snow falling not just at the poles, but on mountain tops which are cold because of their high elevation. During the summer these massive glaciers warm and partially melt creating some of the great Rivers around the world. As the temperature of the planet has been warming, glaciers around the world have been receding at an alarming rate, and this is already causing a reduction in the amount of water flowing into many rivers during the hottest and driest months. In April of 2015, the Governor of California made the annual trek to the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to measure the snowpack which indicates the water which will run into the river over the summer. When he stood on the traditional spot where the snow is usually 5 – 6 feet deep on April 1st, he was standing on dry grass. “People should realize we are in a new era.” he said.
Nearly two thirds of the Amazon Rainforest is in Brazil, and almost a quarter of it has been cut down. It has been estimated that the entire Rainforest could transpire as much as 20 billion tons of water a day. This immense amount of water released into the atmosphere helps create the dense clouds sometimes called “‘Flying Rivers’, which give the huge daily deluges of rainfall, which perpetuate the rainforest. These flying rivers have also traditionally delivered rain to the southern part of Brazil. But with so much of the Rainforest cut down these flying rivers are not delivering as much rain to Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo which houses about 12 million people. Many of the city’s water reservoirs are below 15 % of capacity. Many other countries are experiencing their own water crises, drawing down lakes and underground aquifers at a rate that is simply not sustainable.
Vast Quantities of fresh water are also lost forever in the extraction of fossil fuels, with horizontal fracking being the worst culprit. In the United States 40,000 wells have been drilled since 2011. Once the oil, gas, or Bitumen is extracted 80 % of the highly contaminated water is forced back down into the well as a way of getting rid of this now toxic waste. 97 billion gallons of fresh water, more than half of it in drought stricken regions, have been lost forever down fracking wells in the US, since 2011.
Finally there is the contamination of the fresh water that comes out of our taps. There are countless fossil fuel, mining, industrial and even farming operations which all release toxic chemicals, both legally and by accident, which threaten to contaminate lakes, rivers, and underground aquifers. A person can live for about 2 ½ days without water, after that they begin to die of thirst. There really is no other resource as precious for life on this planet as clean fresh water.
2015 29 x 40” 74 x 102 cm Acrylic on Canvas
I was lying in bed still half asleep one Saturday morning when I heard something on CBC Radio that blew my socks off, or would have if I had been wearing socks. An Environment Canada Study, which was conducted by Federal Researchers, with a new tool that could ‘fingerprint’ tailings effluent back to a source pond, found that a single tailings pond was leaking 6.5 million liters a day, and some of this toxic run off was making its way into the Athabasca River. The industry position on Tailings Ponds is that the ponds are being carefully monitored for leaks, implying that there are none. I actually had to google several news sources to convince myself that number, 6.5 million liters a day leaking from one tailings pond, was real. The Athabasca River flows north from Fort McMurray through some First Nations settlements, if it flowed south into Edmonton’s drinking water, this probably would have been a bigger story. The Alberta Government’s position on the study is that it requires further study, which is ‘industry speak’ for the paper has been buried, at least for now.
The oil sands tailings ponds cover 176 square miles in Alberta where Boreal Forests once stood. The tailings ponds are created as a by-product of the process of separating Bitumen, from the sand it occurs in. There is water in the form of steam, as well as acids, and solvents involved in the process, the bitumen containing oil comes out one side, and everything else goes into the tailings ponds. The tailings ponds contain water, sand, and microscopic clay, but they also contain heavy metals, corrosive acids, and toxic chemicals some of which are known carcinogens. The ponds often have a thin layer of residual oil on top which is deadly to waterfowl, and while deterrents are in place, these do not always work, in part because the tailings ponds area the birds have to fly over is so vast.
Managing these Tailings Ponds in an environmental manner is not easy, and for many decades, the problem was simply not dealt with. However with growing public anger changes are slowly beginning to occur. The problem the industry says is removing the water from the microscopic clay which holds the moisture in a yogurt like consistency. Through valiant effort one, (yes one) large tailings pond which dates back to the 1960’s has been successfully dried out, covered in topsoil, and planted with 600,000 trees and shrubs native to the local Boreal forest. This is a good news story, wildlife will move back into the area, and birds flying over will not be in danger if they land. But this is not pristine wilderness, the dried up tailings are still there, definitely in a much more inert form, but they have not been removed. The liners designed to contain the tailings are not going to improve with age. This 176 square mile and growing stretch of tailings ponds, will in perpetuity, pose a threat to the region's drinking water, and to the Athabasca River.
2015 29 x 39” 74 x 99 cm Acrylic on Canvas
Record keeping on climate began in 1850, since the turn of the millennium, almost 94% of countries have recorded their 10 warmest years ever. January 2013 was the hottest month ever recorded in Australia, in June of 2013 the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth was taken in Death Valley California. “The evidence for climate change itself is ‘unequivocal’”. What we don’t know and can only speculate on, is exactly what effect Climate Change is going to have on humanity and the planet.
Climate change is caused by carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gasses being released into the atmosphere, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels. These gasses act as a blanket or mirror, reflecting the sun’s rays back towards the earth thereby trapping heat, rather than letting them bounce back into space. It is not however a simple matter of the planet warming. Because of the warming, ocean currents are shifting and this is causing weather patterns to shift. As a result drier regions are becoming drier, and these droughts are causing devastating fires. Also shifting weather patterns are causing, hurricanes, tornadoes, and typhoons to become more intense, unprecedented rains are becoming more common, and crippling snowstorms are falling in areas where snow was not typically seen in the past.
Insurance companies are no longer able to base their risk assessment on historic records, they now have to factor in the growing frequency of “catastrophic weather related disasters,” including floods, wind storms exacerbated in coastal regions by rising sea levels, and droughts which can cause fires.
“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.” according to a United Nations Scientific Panel Report, the report is based on more than 12,000 peer reviewed scientific papers. This is only one of many reports by leading scientists raising the alarm bells about Climate Change. Of all of the Scientists worldwide who are not working directly in the fossil fuel industry, 95 % believe that the looming effects of Climate Change are alarming, or very alarming.
"Fear IIX" Projekt 30, Online, New York, NY, USA 2014
2014 30 x 39” 76 x 99 cm Acrylic on Canvas
Multistage fracturing of horizontal wells, commonly known as fracking has been used extensively only since the early 2000s. Vertical fracking has been around for about 60 years, but although the two methods are similar in many ways there are also significant differences. Horizontal fracking has made a lot of shale gas and oil formations which were once considered not financially viable, suddenly very attractive, but it comes at an environmental cost. A lot more water, chemicals, and pressure are used in this new oil and gas extraction boom.
In British Columbia alone 11,000 new wells have been drilled since early 2000. Each and every well uses between 2 and 7 million gallons of water, 80% of which is never recovered. The water for fracking is permanently removed from lakes, rivers, and underground aquifers. This water is mixed with 80 to 140 Tons of Chemicals for each fracked well. A risk is that the water combined with sand, and 750 different chemicals, (many of the chemicals are not disclosed for proprietary reasons), injected under very high pressure to loosen the gas and oil, may find its way into our drinking water.
According to many studies by top scientists worldwide, there is a clear link between fracking and contamination of underground aquifers. There have been a number of cases where homeowners have had gas seeping into their wells to the point where if it has time to accumulate the gas from the well water, can be lit on fire. The danger of contaminated well water is not only a health risk for the homeowner, this could also pose a problem for farmers in cases where water used to irrigate plants or drinking water for animals is found to be contaminated. We are finding over time that although there is a vast distance between the fracked shale oil and gas formations and underground aquifers, what was once thought to be “impermeable layers (of rock and sandstone) can be surprisingly permeable and fractures in the rock can be interlinked in unexpected ways.”
When the International Oil and Gas companies have used up the ‘easily extracted profitable oil’, estimated by a number of international financial institutions to be in as little as 25 years, most will simply walk away. Anybody who lives near one of these tens of thousands of abandoned wells will be left with the threat of contamination to their underground aquifers, and to nearby lakes and streams around many tens of thousands of abandoned wells, for generations.
2013 12 x 19” 31 x 48.5 cm Hand Pulled Serigraph 23 stencils Edition 55 A.P. 5
The current government does not seem to appreciate any science that is inconvenient to its industry friendly agenda. At the Conservative Convention in 2013 Steven Harper said, “In this party we will not accept that environmental protection must stop economic development.” The United Nations Climate Change Conference awarded Canada the, ‘Fossil of the Year Award,’ 6 years in a row under Stephen Harper because of his efforts to put industrial interests ahead of concerns over the environment. National policy has to be made based on science, not on an industrial agenda. In 2012 the Conservatives dismantled the Navigable Waters Protection Act. This major policy change was tucked into a 400 page omnibus budget bill, and was based on advice received from the ‘Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.’ It means that more that 2 million rivers and lakes are no longer protected and do not require an environmental assessment if a pipeline is going to go through them.
The conservative government has tried to shut down a number of world class environmental research stations in Canada, including the PEARL Observatory, ‘Polar Environmental Research Laboratory.’ This station located at the 80 parallel in Nunavut, was the most northern research station in the world, recording the extreme effects of arctic climate change. It has gone from year round observations, to having scientists drop in for a week several times a year. The Conservatives also tried to close ELA, the ‘Experimental Lakes Area’ which has been running studies on lakes in North Western Ontario since 1969. This is the only place on the planet which is engaged in such large scale research on how a whole ecosystem is affected by human caused problems such as acid rain, or phosphates, or climate change. World policies on curbing acid rain, and restricting the use of phosphates in detergents have been made directly as a result of studies at ELA. This facility is now open only because of a national and international outcry, and the Ontario provincial government, which stepped in to cover all the cost of running the facilities for the next few years. To say these facilities, and many other environmental research centers around the country are being shut down as a cost saving measure is silly, PEARL cost 1.5 million to run for a year, ELA cost 2 million.
The Harper Conservatives have implemented policies that make it mandatory for federal scientists to have all communication with the main stream media pre-approved by government handlers. This attempt to suppress scientific results on climate change and the environment, is counterbalanced with a $24 million dollar public relations campaign over the next 2 years to promote the oil sands as environmentally responsible. The 24 million dollar white wash campaign says, “Here in Canada we’re pretty good at this.” as it pans across wild grasses planted in topsoil laid over top of a dried up, but still toxic, tailings pond. There has to be more thought for future repercussions when we are planning how to develop our natural resources. The current “I want it all now,” attitude is not rational, and it is not sustainable. If we Canadians do not develop our resources in a responsible way, the environmental costs will not go away, they will be passed down with compound interest to the next generation.
2011 30 x 38" 76.5 x 97 cm Acrylic on Canvas
Giant Gold Mine operated a mine in Yellowknife for a little over 60 years. After they had extracted all of the gold, they walked away leaving an arsenic contaminated site, clean up will cost almost 1 billion dollars. Sydney Steel and various other companies operated coke ovens in Sydney Nova Scotia for almost 100 years, eventually the ovens were closed down. Clean up costs are 400 million dollar, tax payers pick up the tab for both of these cleanups. A negative externality is when someone else covers the debt a company builds up, Climate Change is the most obvious example of this. Some companies who are primarily focused on profits pollute, there by running up a massive tab in environmental and climate damage. Society both environmentally and financially is often left with the tab when the gold, or steel, or bitumen is no longer profitable to produce. Some estimates put the cost we are paying for climate change caused droughts, storms, flooding, rising sea levels, and melting permafrost, globally today at 1.2 trillion dollars a year. Climate Change is, and will increasingly affect the bottom line for economies and food supplies worldwide.
Much of the world is beginning to take steps to mitigate climate change, in the U.S. domestic demand for oil is declining because of new vehicle fuel efficiency standards. China is considering moving towards the electric car, even India has recently agreed to take steps to mitigate Climate Change, as have Europe and Australia and many other countries. At the same time Canada under the current Conservative government is moving towards a fossil fuel based "Energy Superpower Economy."
A number of leading think tanks worldwide agree that the demand for oil is likely to decrease within the next 20 to 30 years. These are not Environmental groups, these are financial groups looking for what is in the best interest of their clients. The list includes Deutsche Bank; the Panel of Economic Advisors of Alberta; the International Energy Agency, and the Premiers Council for Economic Strategy which includes a former CEO of Shell Oil, this last group advised "We must plan for the eventuality that oil sands production will almost certainly be displaced at some point in the future by lower cost and/or lower-emission alternatives."
We need to start investing the 1.3 billion we have been giving away to mostly foreign owned oil companies, into creating jobs in the green energy sector, and reinvesting in Canadian manufacturing which has been damaged by the high Canadian dollar, caused by oil exports. If we move in the wrong direction today, our children's children's children will be picking up the tab for our mistake. "It is time to move beyond spending enormous sums addressing the damage, (caused by Climate Change), and to make the investments that will repay themselves many times over". UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
2013 30 x 38" 76.5 x 96 cm Acrylic on Canvas
I am not sure how I feel about shipping oil through a pipeline. Certainly there are a lot of environmental risks involved, however if the oil has to be moved, I am not sure that putting many hundreds of additional trucks on the road would in the end a better environmental choice. Putting bitumen through a pipeline on the other hand is an easy call, it is a very bad idea. A report that CIBC, (a Bank), created was widely quoted by the Harper government, and industry as proof that the only way forward in the oil industry is to build more pipelines to get the raw bitumen out quickly. This report is prefaced with the following quote "the firm (CIBC) may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report."
Conventional crude is a liquid that can be pumped from the ground and shipped through pipelines directly to refineries. Bitumen is too thick to be pumped, there are two ways to retrieve it, surface bitumen is mined with shovels and processed to remove the sand and clay. Underground bitumen is extracted by injecting steam and solvents into the ground and pumping the heated bitumen up to the surface. The recovered bitumen is 1,000 times more viscous than light crude oil, and is the heaviest crude oil used today. If the bitumen is piped in this unprocessed state, it has to be diluted with a high cost light crude or gasoline solvent, also known as condensate. This condensate which makes up between 25 and 50% of the diluted bitumen by volume, has to be imported from outside of Canada at a great financial cost, and with a vast increase in Tanker traffic, and a whole new set of pipelines required to bring the condensate into the oil sands to blend with the bitumen.
The environmental risks posed by a bitumen spill are many times greater than with a conventional oil spill. Most of the chemicals found in conventional oil are middle weight, "light enough to float, but too heavy to gas off into the atmosphere." When a spill of diluted bitumen occurs it separates into condensate and bitumen. The condensate made up of a light crude or gasoline and solvent blend is very volatile and evaporates into the air causing serious air quality problems. The bitumen is heavy, and sinks into the bottom of river beds, or deeper into the soil making it extremely difficult and costly to remove. Almost 3 years after the bitumen spill in the Kalamazoo River, the cleanup is still not complete.
If we build a vast infrastructure to pipe out raw bitumen and a second set to pipe in condensate at 4 or 5 billion dollars a pipeline, we will be locked into a cycle of exporting raw resources with no value added, and with the bulk of the profits going to mostly foreign owned oil companies. We need to look at what is in the long term best interest of Canada and the environment, and that is to build refineries and process the bitumen close to the Oil Sands. This would eliminate the need for a vast system of condensate pipes, it would eliminate the huge cost of condensate which would no longer be needed to dilute the bitumen, and the synthetic crude produced while not being without risk, would be a far safer, value added, and less controversial product to send through a pipeline.
Painting on the Edge, Federation of Canadian Artists Gallery, Vancouver BC 2013
2012 30 x 38” 76 x 97 cm Acrylic on Canvas
America has gone from high income inequality a century ago, to a more balanced earning curve in the late seventies largely due to the power of the unions, to very high inequality again today. The top 1% has had a massive increase in earnings since 1992, while the bottom 80% has seen a sharp decline in their earning power. This trend as well as an admiration for mass movements protesting austerity measures in England, Spain, Greece, and the Arab Spring Protests, helped to ignite the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
Americans have the highest income inequity rates in the developed world. The slogan “We are the 99%” is a reaction to feelings that the financial institutions, corporations, and the political elite, have behaved callously towards the workers, asking them to accept wage cuts and belt tightening while the corporate elite double their earnings and give themselves massive bonuses. The Occupy movement is different from earlier protests because of its populist origins; it does not have a charismatic leader, but relies on social and electronic media to get its message out. It also encompasses a wide range of concerns from “economic inequality, greed, Corruption and the undue influence of corporations on government,” to concern for the global environment.
2012 30 x 38” 76 x 98 cm Acrylic on Canvas
Although there are discrepancies between what people in the industry, and environmentalists think about the oil sands development, it is agreed even by people in the oil industry who have an interest beyond the bottom line that development is happening too fast, every few years production is doubling. Oil companies, mostly foreign owned, are given tax breaks which allow 100% of the oil sands capital investment to be written off. We also have one of the lowest royalty rates in the world, which is contributing to “a runaway pace of development.” Already much of the easy conventionally drilled oil in Alberta is depleted, this combined with soaring oil prices, has led to a massive ramping up of development in the oil sands. The oil industry is working on better and cleaner ways to extract the bitumen, but they are not giving technology time to catch up with the environmental problem. Extracting oil from the raw bitumen in the oil sands produces 3 to 5 times more CO2 greenhouse gases than oil from a conventional oil well. Despite oil companies voluntarily reducing carbon emissions, daily increases in the scale of the oil sands operation mean that every “environmental parameter is worsening.”
The Oil Sands are employing the largest trucks in the world, which have a 400 Ton payload, to move out the raw bitumen for separation from the sand. Then the bitumen has natural gas added to it so that it will flow, and in this unprocessed state it is shipped, or piped to other countries for processing. The only thing shipping out raw bitumen helps is the immediate bottom line for oil executives and politicians. Preventing any more new projects from coming online and refining more of the bitumen into oil here in Canada would reduce the shipping costs, increase the number of jobs created in Canada, extend the life of the oil sands as a source of revenue, and give technology a chance to reduce the harm to the global environment. We are having a fire sale on our raw resources at the expense of the environment, our long term prosperity, and the industrial sector in Canada. The way the massive influx of money is being dealt with by the federal government harms Canada’s industrial sector, check out “Dutch Disease”.
SCA's 44th Open Juried Exhibition, Paper Mill Gallery, Todmorden Mills Museum, Toronto, ON 2012
2012 12 x 19” 30 x 48 cm Hand Pulled Serigraph 27 Stencils Edition 53 AP’s 5
Wetlands are the ecosystem that exists between the land, and bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and oceans. To be considered a wetland there must be a sufficient level of shallow water between the main body of water and the shore each year to support aquatic plants. Wetlands provide two critical functions in relation to Climate Change, they act as a natural carbon sink, sequestering harmful CO2. They also act as a natural water regulator, absorbing excess water during a flood, then when the water table begins to fall, such as in a drought, the wetlands naturally release water back into the aquifer. Since 1900 one half of the wetlands in the world have been lost due to human activity.
Wetlands are also a valuable source of natural water purification, and a reservoir of biodiversity. They are critical fish habitat, every single spices of both fresh and saltwater fish spends part of its lifecycle in a wetland environment. The wetlands along rivers and coastal areas act as natural buffers during severe storms, enabling vast amounts of water to spread out over a wide area. The human desire to build closer to the shoreline and to control the rivers and coasts with manmade levies and diversion channels has proven to be problematic especially in the face of increasingly severe weather.
2011 28 x 45” 70.5 x 114 cm Acrylic on Canvas
During the mid to late cretaceous period there was a massive inland sea that covered much of North America. It was up to 970 km wide and over 3,200 km long. Much of this was caused by geological actions in the earth’s tectonic plates. But the size of this inland sea was enlarged also by the fact that the climate globally was warmer during that time, and there were no major ice sheets at the poles. The sea level was an average of 100 meters higher during this warm period. Because of the cooler climate today, there are massive ice sheets that cover the Antarctic continent and Greenland. In the Antarctic alone the ice sheet varies from 2 to 4.5 kilometers in thickness, that’s 1 to 3 miles of solid ice covering a continent twice the size of Australia! As the climate warms, there is evidence that these ice sheets are shrinking. Even a small scale melting of these polar ice caps will alter coastlines around the world.
Legend has it that Atlantis shrank into the sea. If you live in a place called Atlantis you might want to consider putting your house up for sale, and moving to higher ground.
"Fear IIX" Projekt 30, Online, New York, NY, USA 2014
2011 11.5 x 18.5” 29 x 47 cm Hand Pulled Serigraph 22 Stencils Edition 57 Artist Proofs 5
Deserts grow, shrink, and shift naturally, they do not have defined borders that are static. The primary cause of increased desertification however, is human mismanagement of the land. This has occurred since shortly after people took to farming. Egypt use to be the breadbasket of the world, the once mighty Mayan culture declined long before European contact because of desertification, and of course Easter Island where the Giant Moai heads stand sentinel over scrub and wasteland, that was once a well treed and highly productive landscape.
Today with our growing world population there is already increased pressure on marginal land to produce food. In many cases there are unsustainable farming practices, which increase production in the short term, but also damage the viability of the soil in the long term. Climate change will increase the overall world temperature by 2 - 4 degrees, and it will also change rainfall patterns, thus making some marginal lands even drier. This will only exacerbate the problem of desertification.
2011 12.5 x 17” 32 x 44 cm Hand Pulled Serigraph 27 Stencils Edition 49 Artist Proofs 5
Canaries, and birds in general, have evolved with a different respiratory system than humans. Their breathing system allows them to go from sea level to very high altitude with ease. It also means that they are far more vulnerable to slight increases in methane and carbon dioxide gas. Up until the late 20th century, coal miners took canaries down into the mines with them as a safety measure. Long before a human would be in danger from poisonous gas, the canary would stop singing and die, this was a signal to evacuate the mine immediately.
We are heading towards climate change at an alarming rate, and the people with the power to slow it down are unwilling to, because it does not fit within a 4 year political mandate, or within a CEO’s profit parameters. I really hope that the canaries pull through this okay!
2011 28 x 45” 70.5 x 114 cm Acrylic on Canvas
The Arctic is warming faster than any other region on Earth. As ice melts, it exposes dark water which absorbs the sunlight, and accelerates warming. As oil prices rise, and this once solid covering of ice retreats further north each summer, the oil companies are moving in. They are moving into one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. With 24 hours of sunlight during the summer life thrives, with creatures from birds, to fish, to whales migrating thousands of miles to take advantage of the summer buffet. As fall sets in and the light fades, the temperature cools, and most of the creatures leave for more pleasant climes. With the winter cold the Ocean once more becomes sealed in a layer of ice.
If there was an oil well accident in late summer, the oil company may not be able to cap the well before the ice set in in early fall. In that case the well could not be capped under the ice, and the oil would flow unchecked until late spring of the following year when the ice melted, and work could begin again to repair the leaking oil well. Clean up would be virtually impossible, because there is no way to clean up oil trapped under the ice, by spring the scale of the disaster would be unprecedented, and there would be almost no equipment available in the Arctic to help with the clean-up.
An oil company in response to concerns expressed by some local Inuit peoples, built a ship to position itself by their oil rig in case of a potential spill. Yes, that’s a single ship. During the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as many as 6,500 ships were trolling the waters skimming for oil. Well, good luck with that boys!
2010 27 ½ x 44 ½ ” 70 x 118 cm Acrylic on Canvas
Pandora’s Trojan Horse, is a series of paintings and serigraphs that I am working on depicting this magnificent evil beast, prancing along as he cuts a swath of environmental and climate devastation. There is no corner of the world, no matter how remote, that has not felt the human footprint.
When I was a child I remember all seven of us squeezed into the family car. As we drove over the bridge by the pulp mill, I always gagged, and my eyes watered. It smelled like everyone in the car had simultaneously passed wind. I would always look out the window at the pulp mill, spewing smoke into the air, and dumping effluent into the river. One day I asked my parents, “What is that terrible smell?” ... “That,” they replied with a smile, “is the smell of money.”
"At the Edge" Juried online Exhibit by Projekt 30, New York, NY, USA 2011
8th Annual Painting on the Edge, International, Federation of Canadian Artists, Vancouver, Canada 2010
SCA's 42nd Open Juried Exhibit, National, Papermill Gallery, Toronto ON, Canada 2010
International Contemporary Artists, Vol 1, ICA Publishing, New York, NY and Athens Greece, Copyright 2010
2009 11 x 19” 28 x 48 cm Hand Pulled Serigraph 25 stencils Edition 54 Artist Proofs 5
The glacial ice sheet in Antarctica, contains 70% of the freshwater on earth. As glacial calving, (massive chunks of ice breaking off from the thick ice sheet that covers Antarctica) continues to increase because of climate change, the subsequent melting of these icebergs will cause sea levels to rise. This will not only cause catastrophe in coastal regions around the world, but some low lying countries could be completely covered by water.
Although there are still a few paid lobbyists and people with an interest in maintaining the status quo, who claim not to believe in climate change, I would put them in the same box with the flat earth society people.
Repressed V: Free to Speak, Gallery 5, Richmond Virginia, USA 2010
2009 27 x 44” 68 x 113 cm Acrylic on Canvas
This painting evolved from strong concerns I have about the implications of Ocean Change and Climate Change. Over many hundreds of millions of years, plants have photosynthesized giving off oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide. These plants and animals then died and their remains fell to the ocean bottom or the forest floor, trapping the CO2 they had absorbed. Over hundreds of millions of years this decaying matter became the oil, gas, and coal deposits we rely on today. The problem is that when we burn fossil fuels, in a very short time, we release trapped CO2 that accumulated in these deposits over many, many, millions of years.
Rising CO2 levels have caused ocean warming and increased glacial melt. Eventually if this continues it will alter ocean currents, which will not only have a dramatic effect on the world’s climate, but it could cause oxygen poor water in the ocean’s depths to rise to the surface, which would devastate ocean food chains. About 1/3 of the CO2 we pump into the atmosphere gets absorbed by the oceans and in this process turns into carbonic acid. This all adds up to a three pronged attack on the earth’s lungs. Plankton which floats on the ocean surface creates about 2/3 of the oxygen needed for life on earth. Ocean warming, changing currents, and acidification, are all harmful to plankton, and its ability to produce the oxygen we breathe.
There are no independent scientists doing research in the field of climate study who do not rate this problem as alarming. As with the tobacco lobby, it is short sighted governments, and corporate lobbies which benefit greatly from the status quo, who work very hard to sow the seeds of doubt and confusion.
Humanity has already made a difference by taking steps to protect the ozone layer we were destroying. Ocean change and climate change is a far more complex problem, but we cannot afford to continue to ignore it. We have only one planet to pass on to our descendants, let’s do this responsibly.
iBiennial of Contemporary Art, Artoteque.com online 2009, London UK 2009-2011
Ambience Art Contest 2010, Gold Coast, Australia 2010 *Awarded a Commendation
Best of Worldwide Watermedia Artists, Vol 1, Kennedy Publishing, Williamsburg, Virginia, U.S.A., Copyright 2009