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THE OCEAN REMEMBERS FOR 200 YEARS—By Qinglin You (Collin)

Updated: Dec 6, 2020


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What do you want from me?

Similar questions like this have come up from the scientists we have been paired with. To be honest, I don’t know. As designers and artists, we are always looking for inspiration, which could be anything. Not just visual elements, it’s actually limitless. Let’s say, a phrase.


The ocean remembers for 200 years

This poetic statement from a marine scientist immediately sparks in our minds and becomes the highlight for our first discussion. “Well, the atmosphere forgets quickly” Clemens said to me when he heard it. He is a climate researcher, and a great person to work with. If the weather can forget its change, I assume that the earth can forget humanity as well. I once saw an interview with a Chinese geologist. He was irritated by the journalist so threw a straight ball: "Stopping climate change is not about saving the earth, it’s about saving ourselves. The earth exists with or without us humans, in the past and most likely in the future.” Although, to me, scientists are more devoted to passive observation instead of actively bringing changes. Some large scale geoengineering ideas have been advocated but never executed. Clemens explains to me how unpredictable consequences these radical measures can bring, without the promise to be any good. "We are not clever enough to do so" I said. He can’t disagree, "I know. You wanna try?"

So don’t expect to fix the problem by a hammer strike. Despite the disappointment of climate politics, Clemens thinks we already have enough knowledge to stop climate change. It’s on us, the regular people, not on the professionals. In my opinion, systems as big as the climate are always too large for a single human to care about.


What if a group of fish had to move 2 degrees latitude north because of climate change. Can you imagine? I can’t. "You’re not a fish, what do you know?" That’s what an ancient Chinese philosophy says. But if you scale the fish to human size, this 2 degrees means more than a thousand kilometers. Imagine if you had to move from Norway to Iceland by foot. Not to say the fishes there all speak in weird dialect to you. Isn’t that crazy?


What can I do to stop climate change not just as a human, but also as an artist or designer? Some pretty pictures are not gonna help, I know. But if the message behind them can be delivered thanks to these images, then it’s not what we should be afraid of. Looking for different representations is not irrelevant, it’s for the audience, it’s rephrasing the truth.

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