Climate Capsules What to Do When the Earth Warms Up?

Given humankind's lackadaisical response to climate change, a museum in Hamburg is presenting fanciful visions of how humans might adapt to disaster. "Climate Capsules," an exhibition starting Friday, imagines people of the future in oceangoing cities and other artificial, self-contained environments.


Headlines about the changing climate are more plentiful than political moves to slow it. Among those assuming that bleak predictions will become real is the Hamburg-based Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Museum for Arts and Crafts). Its Climate Capsules exhibition, which opened today, asks how people can survive in a heating globe.

Organizers collected a range of bold, sometimes zany, approaches to the threat of an increasingly inhospitable world. Curator Friedrich von Borries points out that, amid all the debate about climate change, there has been little talk of solutions. The focus instead is firmly on slowing or stopping the temperature trend, even though much damage has already been done.

"In the search for alternative solutions, there is a category discussed substantially less often in public: adaptation," the musuem writes in a press release.

In Climate Capsules, artists, designers and architects have dreamt up science-fiction-style solutions. Architect Vincent Callebaut, for example, takes escapism to an extreme with his plan for a floating city called Lilypad, which would take to the ocean as a haven for climate refugees.

Other ideas on show are not as modern as they look: In 1960 Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao drew up their utopian "Dome over Manhattan," an idea for a two-mile-diameter glass dome over Midtown that would control living temperatures for New Yorkers in both summer and winter.

Fake Clouds

The Hamburg show also explores the idea of chemical and physical interventions to moderate weather. Among the dramatic plans featured is the US Army's Project Cirrus, an experiment in 1947 to weaken a Caribbean hurricane by "seeding" its clouds. There are also low-key proposals, like painting roofs and streets with reflective white paint to reduce global warming.

Artists in this exhibition suggest that humans may have to grow more cut off from their environment than they are today. The show starts with an unusual installation by Paris-based artist Pablo Reinoso. Two visitors at a time can poke their heads into his inflatable textile construction, sharing the air they breathe in the enclosed pod-like space.

Ilkka Halso's photo series, "Museum of Nature," is similarly striking. Her digital montages relocate forests, lakes and rivers into imaginary museum buildings, transforming everyday wildlife into exotic museum exhibits.

The exhibition starts May 27, 2010, and runs till August 8.

jas -- with wire reports

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