Sometimes, I like to take a step away from the art itself to ask what art does for society. In a world that often portrays our field as frivolous or boils our work down to how it can stimulate local economies, it’s a nice exercise to imagine how the thing to which we dedicate our lives actually contributes, and has even more potential to contribute, to bettering the world at large.
Shifting gears a bit, let’s talk about one of the most global issues facing…well, the globe: climate change. A 2009 report by the Pew Research Center claims that the number of Americans who believe manmade global warming is real has dropped 14 % from 2008. And, according to a Brookings Institute study, even among Americans who believe that global warming is occurring, there was an 18% decrease in respondents who said they were very confident that this phenomenon was taking place.
Speculation about the reasons behind the climate change movement’s loss of momentum abound. While some popular hypotheses for its decline include the current economic crisis and the radicalization of the Republican Party in the wake of Obama’s election, one of the most interesting to me was in a Newsweek blog entry suggesting that many Americans are indifferent or unable to comprehend the long-term effects of climate change. That indifference has emerged more strongly now because it’s much harder to prioritize abstract, far-away problems like climate change when compared to the daily threat of losing one’s job. Read the rest of this entry »