It is easy to ignore what cannot be seen. The exhaust from millions of cars on a Monday morning commute, the trees cut down to create paper, the gallons of water from a day’s worth of dishes and 30 minute showers, are nearly impossible to conceptualize, invisible to the naked eye. Yet, their effects are visible in the melting of the polar ice caps, the photochemical smog cover in major urban centers and the lack of trees in a once abundant rainforest. Most are aware of global climate change, but because it is not hindering day-to-day living, few do much to mitigate the problem. The Miami University Sustainability Committee would like to change this by making the problem conceivable to students, faculty and staff through art.
Anna Ginsky, Sustainability Education Coordinator, and the Sustainability Committee, have launched an art contest to create a project that would visually display the 137,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide Miami emits.
“The decisions we make – whether we bike or drive to school, print double sided, keep the office temperature moderate – impact the schools carbon footprint,” Ginsky said.
February 27 is the deadline for submissions to the Future Voices Art Contest, and artists are asked to visually represent Miami’s total carbon footprint, Miami’s per capita carbon footprint or its impact on future generations. Finalists will be part of an exhibition juried by artists and environmentalists, Ginsky said, and the winners will be funded to create their art and display it on campus.
“The point of this contest is to make the carbon footprint more relatable to everyone. If we can’t relate to it, why should we care about it?” Ginsky said.
Another aspect to the competition involves considering the future generations of Miami students when making decisions.
“The carbon we are putting into the world doesn’t disappear after a couple years, it’s going to be there for them to manage,” Ginsky said. “This contest is a small opportunity to bring Miami’s future generations into the fold of the decisions we are making today that will likely impact the ones they are faced with in the future.”
No student is unaffected by the changes in the environment. The effects may not be immediately felt or readily visible, but they are happening and will continue to happen unless more students are aware of the size of their collective carbon footprint. MU’s Sustainability Committee hopes the art project will be a vehicle for students to realize, through art, the impact their choices have on the environment.