Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pioneering polar cities artist and visionary find attracting media attention an impossible task in a climate of denial and fear

Pioneering polar cities artist and visionary find attracting media attention an impossible task in a climate of denial and fear

by Web Poster
December 25, 2009

TAIPEI, TAIWAN -- Take a Taiwanese graphic artist and an American climate activist what who do you get? Polar cities!

For Deng Cheng-hong and Dan Bloom, the collaboration on their pioneering and unique look into the future of planet Earth went smoothly, even though neither of the two men speak the other person's native language. As a result, the initial communications between the two, who are neighbors in a small southern Taiwan city, was mostly by body language -- heads nods and shakes, according to Bloom, a Boston native who has been living in Asia since 1991.

Deng, 41, took Bloom's rough black-and-white pencil sketches of his imagined "polar cities" for survivors of global warming in the far distant future and turned them into a 3-D architectural drawings that have started a global discussion on the Internet on such adaptation strategies.

British scientist James Lovelock has seen Deng's images and told him in an email last year: "It may very well happen and soon!"

New York Times science reporter Andrew Revkin wrote about Deng and Bloom two years ago, and a few print newspapers have gently tiptoed into the discussion as well. But for the most part, the media does not want to touch the polar cities idea with a ten-foot pole. Bloom says he thinks this is because "most people are still in denial about what the future holds."

"Polar cities will be like lifeboats for those people who survive the major impacts of global warming in the the next 500 years," he says. "They are a positive contribution to the discussion, and there is nothing to be afraid of. Still, most newspapers and broadcast outlets will not report this story. I understand why. Most people still want to think we can fix things, that there is a way out of this climate change mess. In fact, we are doomed, doomed."

Bloom, in his early 60s, calls himself an "eternal optimist" who believes that the human species will survive the coming "Great Interruption" - as he calls the years 2100 to 3100 -- and he feels that Deng's polar city images have gone a long way in helping to focus attention on just what the future might look like, around 2500 or so.

Still, Bloom says it is almost impossible to get the mainstream media to report about his polar cities idea, or Deng's images, since neither he nor the Taiwanese artist are scientists or hold Ph.D. degrees. "The media wants credentials, and we have no credentials," Bloom says. "But many pioneering thinkers have not been professors or VIP. Jesus did not have a Ph.D., Jeremiah did not have a Ph.D., Moses was not a university professor with a corner office overlooking a bright, sunny courtyard! Why can't the media report about polar cities? One word, no, two: fear and trembling."

Still, Bloom said he is hopeful that one of these days some fearless newspaper editor will assign a reporter to cover the pair's work and interview them about polar cities, "even if it's just a think piece, a thought experiment."

"I am not looking for the media's blessings about polar cities," Bloom says. "I just want the media to report the ideas involved and let the reading public get in on the action and give their own reactions. We shouldn't be afraid of mere ideas."


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