Art to Save the World

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This week, 15,000 delegates and 110 heads of state from 192 nations are in Copenhagen to (we hope) negotiate a treaty to address the causes of climate change. It turns out that a number of artists have also arrived in the Danish capital, intent on delivering their own messages about what is at stake.

British artist Mark Coreth came to town with an 11-ton block of ice in tow, but he'll be leaving with much less. Inspired by a recent trip to the Arctic, he carved a life-size polar bear out of ice on-site in Copenhagen's Nytorv Square, and it's melting by the minute. Pretty soon, all that will be left is the bronze skeleton of the bear and a pool of water at its feet. 'This will be a strong symbol of how human beings are affecting the climate,' Coreth told reporters.

Another installation with a message is 'The CO2 Cube' in St. Jørgens Lake. At 27 feet (three stories tall), the object represents the space occupied by one metric ton of carbon-dioxide. Incredibly, the average European is responsible for more than 10 metric tons of CO2 per year -- and that's modest compared with the more than 20 metric tons that each of us Americans contributes. The designers of the structure, artist Alfio Bonanno and architect Christophe Cornubert hope that viewers of their work will be inspired to reduce their annual carbon footprint by at least one cube's worth of emissions. Obscura Digital is responsible for the three hours of climate-minded video shown on the cube's outer surfaces.


Miguel Villagran/Getty Images


There is, of course, no guarantee that art projects such as these will influence the participants in the climate conference taking place at Copenhagen's Bella Center. But at the very least, visitors to the building will surely notice the adjacent bridge bathed in red LED light. It's part of the 'SevenMeters' project, which marks the places destined to be submerged if Greenland melts, leading the sea level to rise an estimated seven meters. Another example of art with real purpose.