The Arts and Climate Change

The issue of climate change is becoming increasingly pertinent; a crisis that is only worsening and demands immediate action. Collins Dictionary’s word of the year for 2018 was ‘single-use’, powerfully highlighting how environmental problems are becoming an integral part of our daily lexicon, with increasing discussion on finding solutions to ecologically damaging practices Yet, despite heightened exposure to environmental issues, it is undeniable that we can and must do more.

A special report undertaken by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that in order to prevent irreversible damage to our planet ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’ are necessary. In this context, it becomes apparent that the arts are essential to our attempts to alleviate our harmful impact on the natural world. Pure fact and statistics are arguably not enough to encourage people to make changes to their lives.

Art, by its very nature, inspires emotion; the sort of emotion that may have the potential to inspire people to act. Nature has always been a source of inspiration for creatives, both literary and artistic, with their works often depicting the magnificence of our world. Thus, art that exposes the degeneration of the ecosphere is even more arresting when set against romantic portraits of untouched beauty.

The Poetry Society’s collaboration with the University of Leeds and poet, Helen Mort, highlights how the arts can effectively depict environmental issues. Helen Mort challenged writers under the age of 25 to write responses to climate change and the winning poems were chosen to feature in the anthology titled, I am the Universe. This initiative proves how the art world can inspire young creatives to think dynamically about ecological problems and create works about these issues that are compelling to the reader.

Art truly has the power to promote change and its role in improving the environment is no exception.


Lucy Keitley

Image courtesy of PlanCharlotte.