A Countdown to the End of Time
Nestled in the busy Union Square of downtown Manhattan – Metronome – has been a piece of art that has settled into the landscape. Over 20 years ago this public artwork was created by duo; Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel, whose other notable works including “Plethora” in India and “Antithesis” in Switzerland.
Metronome has always displayed the time in its own unique manner, although not always to the joy of the locals, with the New York Times describing it as "pretentious" back at its unveiling in 1999. However, on Saturday 19th September the artwork embraced a more menacing tone – displaying a countdown until the next climate crisis.
"A monumental challenge needs a monument, and the Climate Clock could serve as this constant, public reminder," says Daniel Zarrilli, New York City's chief climate policy advisor.
The timer in fact uses current carbon emission rates to count down to the calculated moment when the Earth’s carbon budget is spent. The monument is hoped to shock the public into realisation of this imminent threat.
It can be difficult to understand how such devastation could result from, for example drinking from a plastic water bottle instead of the reusable, stainless steel equivalent. In perspective, one estimate shows that the emissions from both the production and incineration of plastics could be almost 50 times that of carbon emissions from US coal power plants alone. The public must adopt the perspective that climate change is real and that every disposable item counts.
This climate crisis, could show its ugly face in many forms; the recent wildfires
On the other hand, it is not all doom and gloom. Recent reports show that projects like the Countdown Clock have been having the desired effect on public behaviour. The Marine Conservation Society in the UK has reported a drop of 15% of the littered water bottles found on beaches. Every time you purchase a plastic equivalent, you are contributing to these emissions. The Climate Clock simply makes us all socially responsible for our world around us.
While it is almost impossible to live your life without single-use plastics, it is the conscious choice to reduce your personal consumption of products needlessly wrapped in plastic that will encourage change. This is a challenge for me, you and everyone.