Welcome to Artist's for Conservation's Official Blog

Jeffrey Whiting - AFC
January 11, 2011 share

What a year 2010 was to reflect upon. Earth rang in the Year of Biodiversity with a prolonged geological belch of ash and rock in Iceland. Eyjafjallajokull (I actually trained myself to pronounce this) - dormant volcano turned mountain-sized orifice - brought travel in Europe to a standstill and disrupted lives around the world.

But if an erupting Icelandic volcano was a belch, than surely, ensuing events in the Gulf of Mexico were tantamount to a human-induced vomit of planetary proportions. For 87 days, the world watched powerlessly with revulsion and despair as 4.9 million barrels of crude oil (or 205 million gallons) gushed into the crystalline waters of the Gulf of Mexico. We now know this to be the worst oil spill in history. As astronauts added another module to the International Space Station on shuttle Atlantis' final voyage, they shared with us how bad the spill looked from space. What will we learn from this?

We can't reflect on the year without mentioning earthquakes in Haiti and Chile that wrought enormous destruction. The resulting extended shutdown of the pulp industry in Chile had a major impact on the availability of paper worldwide. Options for producing a short-run book (such as our Art of Conservation Exhibit Book) on environmentally friendly stock became severely limited. It caused costs to rise and slowed production. It is cause for thought that a single earthquake could have a global impact on printing on sustainably forested paper.

On a more symbolic level, we face an immediate challenge in the survival of one of nature's most iconic species - tigers. Although the fate of the world does not rest on the survival of one type of animal, symbolically, the loss of tigers is not an option. Simply put, if we cannot rally the global community to do what is needed to save as dramatic and charismatic an animal as the tiger, it does not bode well for the 99.9% of diversity of life on earth that isn't so photogenic.

On the up-side, loggers and environmental NGOs (and notably NOT government) struck a new deal this year to protect the boreal forest in Canada - a huge chunk of the world's largest forest ecosystem - and commit to setting new international standards in forest management. Environmental groups that were only last year calling for a boycott on Canadian pulp, are claiming total victory and heaping praise on their prior adversaries. Vision, appreciation and cooperation mixed with determination and a dash of pragmatism made this happen. The recipe works.

We arguably averted two doomsday scenarios, thanks in large part to intergovernmental cooperation and planning. A global pandemic of H1N1 influenza fizzled from the public's radar with far less human casualties than feared. And while we will never know for sure, we may have at least temporarily prevented a global economic depression.

Though we are far from perfect or complete solutions, we hope we have learned a big lesson: the fiscal saga underlines the interconnectedness of our global village. It underlines the consequences of our society as a whole not taking responsibility for its actions, acting unsustainably, and allowing irresponsible and unaccountable behavior to take place.

Many artists today are active participants in an important movement, channelling artistic talent toward addressing the challenge of achieving a sustainable future. At the forefront of this movement is Artists For Conservation.

Our vision today is more important than ever: To lead a global artistic movement that inspires individuals and organizations to preserve and sustain our natural heritage by uniting the talent and passion of the world's most gifted nature artists.

Over the coming weeks and months, I invite you to stay tuned to this blog and join me and several of our AFC artist members and AFC partners from around the world in sharing our thoughts and expertise on various topics related to The Art of Conservation. I remain ever optimistic and excited about our future, and the role of artists in making our world richer, more diverse and sustainable.


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