What Should Artists Do About Global Warming Contest

This is art.
This is art.

Picture shows artist Sarah Cameron Sunde, who stood in San Francisco Bay on Friday Aug. 15, 2014, “for a full cycle of tides, a more-than 13-hour process.

A more than 13-hour process!

Why did artist Sarah Cameron Sunde stand in San Francisco Bay “for a full cycle of tides”, which is “more-than 13-hour process”? You already know the answer. To turn the tide against global warming!

Come, wasn’t it brave of artist Sarah Cameron Sunde to stand in San Francisco Bay “for a full cycle of tides”, which is “more-than 13-hour process”? She called her art “36.5: A Durational Performance with the Sea.”

Artist Sarah Cameron Sunde stood in San Francisco Bay “for a full cycle of tides”, a “more-than 13-hour process”, to raise awareness about rising sea levels. Consider my awareness raised! For instance, I’m now aware that if the Pacific ocean keeps rising at the same alarming rate as now, then in three or four short centuries, residents might have to move their beach chairs an inch or two back from the shore, lest they get wet feet.

SF Gate reports artist Sarah Cameron Sunde’s final words: “I’m walking out – I hope I survive”.

She did. Survive, that is. But there was little doubt. Artist Sarah Cameron Sunde also stood around in the water for a day in Bass Harbor, Maine and Akumal, Mexico. She survived those, too. SF Bay is pretty cold, though. Her warming trick? “I pee in the wetsuit,” she said. Charming.

Now I don’t know about you, but this is what I call art. Don’t take my word for it. Writer Jennifer Herman, the paper reports, happened to walk by and noticed Sunde not doing anything, so she, Herman, “was inspired to sit down and write some prose.” Prose!

Great art should be inspirational, and while it’s true little could top artist Sarah Cameron Sunde’s “durational performance”, we still ought to try. We only have one planet! (Not counting the few billion which are slightly too far away to get to using today’s technology.)

Dear readers, what kind of art best conveys the true message of Global Warming?


Readers must describe, in 300 words or so, art which raises awareness of the true message of Global Warming. You have one week from today to do so.

Entries with vivid pictures will, of course, receive higher weight. As will those that are written in professional art talk. Look to any major museum or art installation for examples, or take your cue from artist Sarah Cameron Sunde, who managed to make standing around in the water for a few hours into a heroic sounding deed.

Yours Truly is the sole judge and jury. There will be no appeals. I may engage in favoritism.

The Booty

The winner will receive a Kindle copy of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein (due to be released November 13, 2014).

The winner must supply me his or her email one week after I announce his or her name. Look to this webpage for the announcement.

Pass It On

Readers will be doing the entire planet a service by passing this contest around to the widest extent possible. Use the buttons below to push the post to Facebook, Twitter, and other services. Or simply email it.

Come on, gang! We have a planet to save!

Bonus activity


In popular accounts, of course. Do try it. “The science is settled!” becomes “The politics are settled!” Have fun!


  1. Gary

    Who knew I engaged in performance art three weeks ago when I paddled my kayak to the shallow sand bar in a coastal pond and liberated a peck of quahogs (hard shelled clams) from their muddy strata while the tide flowed silently out. Alas, it wasn’t as herculean as the 13-hour effort of Ms. Sunde, but the results were yummier. Two friends who accompanied me had their awareness raised and we all survived! Well, except the clams, but hey, we have to sacrifice to save the planet you know.

  2. Bruce

    Where I live the tides went from 5 feet to 15 feet on that day.

    She would have drowned.

  3. Sheri

    Gary—You were saving the clams from the horrors of ocean acidification, right?

    I believe that Ms. Sunde is a very good example of the lack of intelligence in today’s media. They are very good with pictures and feelings, which seems to indicate the future of news reporting is geared to preschoolers. Very, very sad. (I suppose one could argue that all that warming has fried her brain, but since there is little warming and a lot of “colding” the idea just doesn’t elicite from me a feeling that warming is Ms. Sunde’s biggest problem.)

    Can a drawing or cartoon be used instead of a photo? Are children going to read this? Is it okay to scare kids in the name of saving the planet from those trying to “save the planet”?

  4. Scotian

    Should entries be posted here or by e-mail?

  5. Gary

    Sheri – and global warming too as some of them rest comfortably in my freezer awaiting the making of the chowder.

  6. Briggs


    All entries posted here, please.

  7. The scene: an empty stage, a centered chair, and a very large screen filling the background.

    The artist enters, bows to audience, announces that this is to be an “artist rendition” of global warming science.

    He sits – back to audience, facing screen,- types on his iPad..

    The following page appears on screen

    For next minute (normal male audience) or four hours (female and/or liberal audience) he silently studies each image in turn.

  8. Sander van der Wal

    The trick is to be the first to do it.

  9. Go Canucks!!

    No offense to the artist, but wasn’t this already performed by some Norwegian King a thousand years ago?

  10. Rich

    I suggest John Cage’s “4’33”” as background music.

  11. Andrew Brew

    Danish. He was aiming to raise awareness of the non-anthropogenic nature of tides.

  12. Scotian

    Briggs, my pictures don’t load. Is there away around that?

  13. Chronus

    I am planning a performance art piece soon, possibly Labor Day weekend. I will build a pyramid of charcoal, then light it afire. After a suitable period of pondering my paleo ice age ancestors who tamed the flame and fought the earliest duel with Global Climate Change, I will forage in the ice(box) for mammal meat to char as they might have. Beer, the original killer app of civilization, will be served to the audience.

  14. Bill Block

    The good news is that in three or four short centuries the beach chairs will probably be able to move themselves.

  15. Sheri

    The Art of Global Warming
    Project Uno: Janelle and four of her closest BFF’s have decided to show how global warming will damage our future by spending four days on the beach without sunscreen or a beach umbrella. By the third day, all four were severely burned (wow, blondes do burn faster than brunettes–who knew?). Ever the bubbly optimist, Janelle stated, between painful wincing, that it was her honor to endure this pain to educate people to the reality of global warming. Sure, she and her friends could develop melanoma, but if we don’t stop pumping evil carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we’ll all have third degree sunburns through our SPF 200.
    Project Dos: Mario and Duane decide to visit the solar panel farms and video birds becoming streamers over the panels. While the video will horrify many environmentalists, especially the close-ups, Mario and Duane figure they can get a million or more YouTube hits by people who just like watching birds vaporize. The project went well until the local Bird Conservatory people showed up and made some veiled threats about testing if Mario and Duane would become streamers if thrown over the panels. It was a shorter video than they had planned, but one can only go so far with saving the earth. Plus, the Bird people’s death threat drew another half million views.
    Project trois: Alicia and George volunteered to spend one hour in light clothing in a meat freezer to show how the warming planet may actually make things more cold and there would be more snow and ice. Outside of the violent shivering, both reported the experience was certainly worth it and they would be doing more such art in the future, after the skin graphs are finished and the amputated fingers and toes surgeries heal.

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