October 2018 saw the publication of what could prove to be one of the most significant studies in recent human history. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the results of an intensive two-year study into the immediate effects of the ongoing environmental crisis.
The message was clear: We have just over a decade to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C. If temperatures go beyond that, the threat to the future of the planet becomes a very real, clear and present danger. We will see an increase in droughts, freak heat waves, and floods. There will be food shortages and mass poverty for hundreds of millions of people. In essence, the report stated, we’ll see a new and terrifying age for all of mankind.
In May this year, another landmark study authored by experts at the UN was released. Leading ecologists working within the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) issued one of the starkest warnings we’ve been served yet: without immediate and major governmental responses to human-caused climate change, a million species of plants and animals face extinction.
The thing is, you know this. You’ve read the reports, or at least the reports of the reports, and you’ve already started thinking about how to minimise your carbon footprint and do away with single-use plastics. You might even have taken part in one of the recent Extinction Rebellion protests. We know you’re clued up already. So we’ve decided to do what we do best here at It’s Nice That – celebrate the amazing work being done by creatives to both raise awareness of the crisis and find positive solutions to our current predicament.
And so, say hello to Response and Responsibility, a new series focusing on creative responses to the climate crisis. Over the next month or so, we’ll be bringing you a range of strong opinions and solid advice on what you can do – as an individual and as a member of a studio or creative business – to play your part.
We’ll also be celebrating the work of the designers, photographers, animators, filmmakers and thinkers who have decided to tackle the crisis in a creative manner. From fashion designers who spend their lives thinking about imaginative ways to reuse, recycle and repurpose garments to the innovation studios looking to change the way we eat, we’ll shed some light on the people doing their utmost to ensure we avoid catastrophe.
Now, given that this is a crisis that affects the entire planet, we have to accept that large-scale change requires a huge amount of things coming together. Governments need to agree on and enact positive policies, and they need big business to get on board. Scientists need to be both believed and supported in their endeavours. Individuals need to accept culpability, too.
What is necessary to remember, though, is that as a creativity community, we can help. We have the ability to communicate issues to wide audiences and we have the skills to enact change through design. A great example of the former is Seetal Solanki, founder of Ma-tt-er, who writes for us that we need to have more “material literacy” when it comes to the environment. The co-directors of VICE’s new documentary Make the World Greta Again, who spoke to us about the making of the film, are another great example of the power of communication.
Meanwhile, Nice and Serious’ Useless project, which we have showcased, is a perfect example of the way design can enact and enable change. All of these projects show that we in the creative industries have to take responsibility, and be responsive (hence the name, by the way).
Things might be scary, but the solutions can and will be found. Response and Responsibility is our way of highlighting just a few of them.