Is the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita another consequence of global warming, driving frequency of intense Category 4 and 5 hurricanes to unprecedented proportions? A new coalition, Stop Climate Chaos, thinks so.
Last month, this diverse group, which includes Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, ChristianAid, Operation Noah, Oxfam, Tearfund, The Woman’s Institute, the World Wildlife Federation, and many others, commissioned Los Angeles artist and environmental activist John Quigley to produce one of his aerial artworks for the launch of their London-based coalition.
The aerial art Quigley produced was a hurricane-esque swirl – Stop Climate Chaos’ campaign image. Hundreds of volunteers showed up at Jubilee Park, by the river Thames to form their message that coincidentally was a haunting reminder of what was happening simultaneously one continent away in New Orleans.
Although Category 4 and 5 hurricanes are not new, the frequency of these intense storms has grown along with the rising ocean temperatures. Heat and the subsequent evaporation of the ocean’s surface is what fuels a hurricane, and ocean temperatures worldwide have increased since 1970. When ocean temperatures rise, so does the amount of water vapor in the air, and a moister hotter ocean surface fuels storms by giving them more water to release and drives the convection that gives them their lethal spin.
Stop Climate Chaos is mobilizing its members and supporters to put pressure on the UK government to make cutting greenhouse-gas emissions a domestic and international priority and to support international aid and development plans that emphasize investing in clean technologies.
Ashok Sinha, Director of Stop Climate Chaos, announced at the launch of the new movement, “We’re facing a catastrophe, with hundreds of millions of people at risk from severe drought, starvation and disease, and by the middle of the century up to one third of land-based species may face extinction. The time has come to respond with the utmost urgency. The organizations that have come together today are supported by millions of people who will be called upon to demand the steps that must be taken right now.”
Six months ago, on Earth Day of this year, Quigley and his crew were in Iqaluit, an Inuit village in the Arctic to produce an image on the melting sea ice to send an “Arctic Warning” about climate change.
A group of Angelenos and environtalists joined over 1000 Inuit in sub-freezing temperatures to create the image of an Inuit Drum Dancer & the word “Listen” spelled out in their native Inuktitut language.
As reported in the May 11 issue of the Santa Monica Mirror, Inuit leader Shelia Watt Cloutier, chairperson for the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and winner of the United Nations Champion of the Earth Award appeared at a U.S. Senate Committee hearing one week after the event and said, “By looking at what is happening in remote Inuit Villages in Alaska, you can understand the future dangers for more populated areas of Florida, Louisiana or California. Use us in the Arctic as your early warning system. What is happening in the Arctic is a snapshot of the future of the planet.”
Quigley said, “Creating these aerial images is a way to activate large numbers of people…to physicalize what up till now has been a theoretical issue. Global Warming is an unprecedented challenge facing humanity that will require a creative and courageous response. We’ve moved past the debate into a time of action….The United States, under the current administration, has become the largest obstacle to progress on meeting this challenge. This image is the second in a series designed to communicate the urgency while mobilizing political will for action to stop climate chaos.”Coleman is a writer and colleague of Quigley’s. She took part in both the Artic and London events.