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Artefacts of a
Burning World

Opionated collection of articles, films, tweets, and other material that is related to the climate crisis.


In this article Rebecca Solnit shifts the perspective on climate change: Instead of framing the shift towards a green future as abundance to austerity, we should look at it as freeing from a flagellating state. By getting rid of “deadly emissions[…], nagging feelings of doom and complicity in destruction.” We could shift to a “sense of security, social connectedness, mental and physical health, and other measures of well-being are often dismal.” She shows how this would be an opportunity for “a sense of meaning, of deep connection and generosity, of being truly alive in the face of uncertainty. Of joy.”


November 2022 hatten Aktivisti der Letzten Generation im Wiener Leopold Museum das Schutzglas eines Klimt-Bildes mit Öl beschüttet und sich daran festgeklebt. Der Museumsdirektor Hans-Peter Wipplinger hatte die Aktion damals als inhaltlich richtig aber formell kontraproduktiv kritisiert.

Nun hat das Museum eine eigene Form der Aufmerksamkeitsgenerierung gefunden und 15 Kunstwerke schief aufgehangen. Die Neigung der Bilder skaliert dabei mit dem Temperaturanstieg in den entsprechend gezeigten Orten.


The shortfilm (2022, 25′) documents walrus haulouts – large gatherings of walruses seeking refuge on shore when their search for remaining sea ice forces them to swim much farther and farther distances.

The marine biologist Maxim Chakilev records these dramatic gatherings in Cape Serdtse-Kamen, Russia. Living together with the scientist in a small, wooden hut surrounded by thousands of walruses, the film team captures the intense atmosphere and suffering of the animals. And the helplessness of Maxim.

The film is produced by The New Yorker (which provide valuable background information on the film), is shortlisted for the 2023 Oscars and premiered 2022 at Berlinale. It is currently disabled on YouTube, which might be due to the Oscar nomination, but is still available at Yahoo.


A team of scientists from the University of Würzburg published an updated estimates of weight of biomass on earth by category. Wild land mammals have a total biomass of 22 million tons. Marine mammals account for 40 million tons. These numbers are far overshadowed by 390 million tons of human biomass and 630 million tons of livestock and other hangers-on such as urban rats.

Reading the list of numbers in the article makes me wish for a visualisation, that would make the relations and categories much clearer.

But at the very end, the article reveals another insight. But this time, it’s about the thinking of one of the involved scientists, which could be read as representative of Western thinking about nature in general: “We can only conserve what we understand, and we can only truly understand what we can quantify.”


Terra Nil is an intricate environmental strategy game about transforming a barren wasteland into a thriving, balanced ecosystem. Bring life back to a lifeless world by purifying soil, cleaning oceans, planting trees, and reintroducing wildlife, then leave without a trace.


“Versetzen Sie sich für einen Moment in die nähere Zukunft, sagen wir ins Jahr 2141. Was passiert? Sie schauen zurück, nerven sich über die vergangene Zeit, lachen vielleicht. Sie blicken auf Ihre eigene Gegenwart, so wie Sie heute in einem Museum auf die Viktorianer oder Wilhelm Tell zurückschauen würden. Man fühlt sich dabei überlegen, weil man lebt und die anderen tot sind; weil man Dinge weiss, die die anderen damals nicht wussten; weil sie Fehler begingen, die in Zukunft offensichtlich sind. Wenn Sie dann wieder aus dem Jahr 2141 in die Gegenwart zurückkehren, dann werden Sie verstehen, dass auch Sie Teil eines historischen Prozesses sind, an den man sich später erinnern wird und den Sie mit Ihren Handlungen beeinflussen.”

— Kim Stanley Robinson

The warming stripes by Ed Hawkins achieved what only few images and even less data visualisations did: they became an icon. Due to their simplicity they managed the gap between science and pop culture. They communicate their message without any explicit legend and reached a point where the pure display conveys a political message. And when the Reading FC football club wore the warming stripes on their jersey, they might have triggered the first climate change conversation during live commentary of a football match.


Der russische Angriffskrieg in der Ukraine hat bloßgelegt, was Klimaforscher_innen schon lange kritisierten: die Abhängigkeit von fossilen Energien (und von totalitären Regimen). Die ewigen Verschleppungstaktiken beim sozialökologischen Umbau der Gesellschaften hin zu einer nachhaltigeren Form des globalen Miteinanders können wir uns nicht mehr leisten. Wie lassen sich die miteinander verschränkten Krisen aus Krieg, Klimakrise und der Gefahr autoritärer, faschistischer Bewegungen analysieren und beantworten?


Scenarios about our future are generated with models that calculate climate impacts based on various variables like energy mix, policy decisions and population development. What if you could set these variables and let the simulation evolve?
The planetary crisis panning game Half Earth Socialism allows for just that. Using the open-source model HectorFrancis Tseng and Son La Pham (with the help of other designers, researchers, and artists) created a format that kept me engaged for 4 hours straight with the myriad of tweaks and trade-offs of climate policy. The game is lovingly designed and embellished with myriad narrative details and an entertaining political embedding by borrowing from the book Half Earth Socialism.
And when no settings you try, works out, a look at this IPCC figure might help.