On September 21, a TV meteorologist appeared practically giddy with excitement while confirming rainfall in the region had shattered long-standing records. In Savannah (Georgia, USA) that meant smashing one which had stood at 2.12 inches, since the 1880s, with a new reported total of almost 7 inches.
(To read part 1 of this post please click here)
The reporter’s eyes glazed over with the kind of hypnotic intoxication genuine science nerds sometimes display when laying claim to a historic firsts. Viewers were informed to expect at least one more night and day of extended pounding before sunshine returned to make everybody smile again.
As I waited anxiously to hear something about how this record-breaking “impact event” was a sign of our climate crisis times, I thought maybe I’d been maintaining a climatological blind spot of my own. Had I remained too focused on pet creative projects without devoting enough energy to the apparent reason repairs for my roof were not standing up to an intensified challenge?
Confirmation of a Kind
The station meteorologist’s forecast did not directly reference anything regarding global warming and was followed by some fun sports tidbits. Is it like this, I wondered, everywhere in a country clearly suffering from climate-change devastations? A few minutes later into the broadcast, however, the anchor introduced a climatologist whose shared insights ran along these lines:
“Climate change is no longer on the way. It’s here. We’ve seen that from the continued melting of the icecap and how quickly fires in the west increase in their intensity. Hurricanes are getting stronger and lasting longer. The heavy prolonged rains we’ve seen in the southeast this week are likely to become the norm.”
These were the words I had hoped the local station weather expert would say because they effectively erased the idea a mythological window of time exists to “prepare for or prevent” catastrophic ecological damage. The catastrophe is happening now. Coming from a local meteorologist, such words as the expert’s would not be so comfortably dismissed the ways statements, for example, from the science and healthcare community frequently are in these historic COVID-19 times. The strength of the anti-vaxxers movement in the United States, even as the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 700,000, is proof enough of that.
Acknowledging corporate-hired meteorologists are paid to direct viewers’ interests toward short-term weather conditions, I could not fault them for doing their jobs. What I could do was continue holding myself accountable for continuing to help raise awareness and encourage species (ours) saving action. An opportunity soon came to do just that.
Expanding a Visual Narrative
Upon learning the Savannah Art Association was teaming up with the coastal conservation group called One Hundred Miles to install artwork celebrating Georgia’s well-preserved coastline, throughout the ground floor of the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, I nodded with gratitude. The only problem for me was I would not be able to spend time on a beach or near a marsh to contribute to this innovative effort to advocate for the protection of the coastline.
As it happened, SAA was also preparing to hang its regular quarterly exhibit in the airport’s official art gallery on the upper floor. The suggested genre, or theme, for the new exhibit (October 1, 2021 - January 7, 2022) was “narrative story art.” For my submissions, I decided to expand the general concept with two photographs and an original Silk-Featherbrush Artstyle (a technique and style created by me) digital painting.
The photographs, one in color and one black and white, had never been printed before or viewed in any form by anyone else. I titled them “Professor Hurricane’s Lecture on Climate Change Number 1 & 2.” The digital painting was named “Planetary Consequences of Human Indifference.” As I saw it, this was my way of helping strengthen the narrative dealing with something too many others remained dangerously reluctant to acknowledge as an immediate threat.
After all, the issue is no longer just about replacing an aged roof (though yes, I need to find a way to do that). It is now about rebuilding (in some cases preserving) the lives of human beings and animals displaced or severely damaged by the climate crisis. For some, it truly is too late because much of what they have lost, and gave meaning to their lives, can never be replaced. For an artist-writer like myself, the calamity demands I not only bear witness to these history altering times. It obligates me to continue contributing whatever I can to the creation of a sustainable life-affirming balance.
Contemporary award-winning American author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.