Winner Announced In What Should Artists Do About Global Warming Contest

This is art.
This is art.


Ten short days ago, we started the What Should Artists Do About Global Warming Contest. It was inspired by a performance “art” piece by one Sarah Cameron Sunde, who bravely stood in San Francisco Bay “for a full cycle of tides”, which is “more-than 13-hour process”.


To battle Global Warming, what else?

Now, modern art is pure evil, as is well known. But so is Global Warming. Therefore, why not set one evil to battle the other? No matter who loses, we win! At least one foe of humanity will have been vanquished. Hence our inspiration.

On to the contestants!


  • Hans Erren suggested any Cartoon by Josh. But this would not be sending evil to fight evil, since Josh’s cartoons are not ugly—and certainly not transgressive.
  • Paul Murphy suggested a visual performance piece, in which the artist takes stage and shows an image of the southern end of a northbound bull named “Global Warming”. The artist then “sits—back to audience, facing screen—[and] types on his iPad.” This is brilliant and earns Second Place.
  • Rich suggested playing John Cage’s hoax 4’33”, a fine start of an idea that needs fleshing out.
  • Chronus said, “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.” This is good, but would tend to put the audience in happy mood, whereas we are aiming for, at the least, is melancholy, if not outright despair.
  • AM (via email) sent in a project outline called “The Greening Planet”, the highlights of which follow.

    “As carbon dioxide spits forth unhindered from the smokestacks of civilization the chaotic tipping point between ice age and fire age may occur…already the Australian Outback is greener, more proof that the carbon cycle is being broken…

    We don’t care that it has been hotter, wetter, colder, dryer in the past. The past is history, and therefore it was somehow perfect. The future is a mystery, and the unknown scares us until we cry green tears. But don’t cry too much, you’ll waste energy metabolizing and spew out more carbon dioxide.

    …But we do know that the civilization that has taken us so far must somehow be our doom. Maybe we should create a new myth, the counter Prometheus, who stole fire from man, and gave it back to the gods so that we could live forever in shadow, safe from uncertainty of our own making and misunderstanding.”

    This is a good start, but not a full project idea. We need art that cuts and wounds for the winner.

  • Scotian (via email) sent in a completed project. Below are two images which our reporter on the spot was able to capture, both of which show the devastating nature of Global Warming and the ravages of sea-level rise!

    “I and my lady love, the strawberry blonde bombshell, decided on a lobster dinner at Hall’s Harbour before global warming caused the inevitable extinction of the lobster. I took the following photo on arrival. The boats were dragged up on the beach for safekeeping and could be easily launched down the central river.”

    Image 1
    Image 1

    “After a leisurely and very enjoyable meal of lobster, made even more poignant by the thought of their coming extinction, I and my one true love exited the restaurant to encounter a horrifying sight. The Greenland ice sheet had clearly collapsed while we were eating the last lobsters in existence, causing an unprecedented increase in sea level.”

    Image 2
    Image 2

    This clearly deserves an Honourable Mention, and could well have been the winner, if only Scotian had melted those glaciers himself in an effort to raise awareness.

The Winner!

Sheri suggested three projects, the best of which is this: “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.”

This is a clear and convincing winner because it neatly highlights the paradoxical nature of Global Warming, and the mysterious way it often makes things cold. Also, it involves amputation and bloody stumps, and if that doesn’t put the modern in “modern art”, nothing does.

The Prize

Sheri will receive a Kindle copy of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein (due to be released November 13, 2014). A Kindle is not needed to read the book; it can be read various ways using Amazon’s free readers.

Sheri, supply me your Amazon-preferred email by 5 September 2014. If you’ve forgotten my email, use the Contact Page.


  1. Jeff B

    I am truly saddened with the lack of polar bear references. Seeing those white majestic bears with sad minor key notes helps spread the word about global warming.

  2. Gary

    Congratulations, Sheri! I might suggest clothing Alicia and George in Hawaiian shirts and stocking the freezer with a generous supply of Eskimo Pies. And a palm tree.

  3. Sheri

    Gary: Great suggestion! I like the palm tree!

  4. Ken

    RE: “Below are two images which our reporter on the spot was able to capture, both of which show the devastating nature of Global Warming and the ravages of sea-level rise!”
    …and related remarks.


    Tides are caused by the Moon — “Luna” is its more popular name, by the way — bullying Mother Earth’s surface water in some areas particularly disproportionately.

    Tide-related matters at not a Global Warming issue….
    …they’re a Luna-bullying-Earth issue.

    Someone needs to intervene & make Luna behave–straighten out its little Napoleon Complex, picking on a bigger planet & all.

  5. CJ

    “The past is history, and therefore it was somehow perfect. ” If that is so, why all the Reanalysis and adjusting/homogenizing???

  6. Sheri

    CL: Two thoughts—The reanalysis and adjusting/homogenizing is why it’s perfect or it’s perfect because we can ignore any parts we like and no one can prove we were wrong to ignore them. Once the last person who actually observed the events dies, there’s nothing to stop a rewriting of history. Which is why it’s perfect.

  7. Uncle Mike

    Dear Dr. Briggs,

    Great contest, fine choices. But I must protest your use of the term “modern art” to describe entries that are clearly Post-Modern or even Post-Post-Modern Art.

    Modern Art ended (or transmogrified into PoMo) back in the 1960’s or thereabouts. The characteristic you seek, irony, is very much a (perhaps the only) PoMo theme. You even added a yearning for the shocking and disgusting (“bloody stumps”) which is the key feature of PoPoMo.

    So fine job on the contest, but get your art history terms straight, my good man.

  8. Jeff B

    This about sums it up. Ups and downs but a catastrophic doomsday outlook on most things is a wrong way to approach a situation.

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