Making Connections: A Journey of Transformation
Men who have been made redundant can often be seen wandering around parks and woods just outside cities in Japan. Being made redundant is an enormous shock and loss in any culture, resulting in threats to income and family relationships, but these men have particular difficulty explaining their redundancy to their families due to the extreme shame of unemployment in a society accustomed to high employment.
The art work centres on Madoka and his wife Fumiko’s experience after his redundancy from the Sony Corporation in 2012 just after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Madoka, broken by all that all that has happened and by seeing the death of the trees around him, is relieved to be found by Fumiko and to feel her warmth. He is now able to start thinking about what he has seen. He turns to the Internet and books, where he is shocked to learn what is happening to our planet. He becomes deeply depressed, but Fumiko is beside him. She suggests he talk to the other men who were made redundant with him. They work together for months to decide on their next steps, and when they have all made plans they have a party.
Madoka and Fumiko are now tired and empty. They decide to visit a shaman who, reminding Madoka that his name means “circles,”sends them to visit and learn from other indigenous people. Attending to the connections between us becomes Madoka’s mission. Knowing that they will not share through language, Madoka and Fumiko determine to share through art.
“The scientific evidence for warming of the climate system as a result of human activity is unequivocal”
intergovernmental panel on climate change
national aeronautic and space administration
Carbon Dioxide: “is a by product of fossil fuel combustion and is a greenhouse gas which traps solar radiation in the atmosphere” IPCC
Increased fossil fuel consumption: “over the past 2 centuries has increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Atmospheric CO2 recently surpassed 400 parts per million, the highest level in more than 800,000 years. A consensus of scientific experts believe that fossil fuel consumption is the driver for global warming“ IPCC
Global temperature rise: “overall the earth has been warming since 1880, but most warming has occurred in the last 35 years. 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurred since 2001, the hottest ever so far in 2014” NASA
Ocean acidification: “has increased by 30% as a result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The CO2 absorbed by the upper ocean layer is increasing by about 9 billion tons per annum” NASA
Warming oceans: “they have absorbed much of the increased heat with the top 700 meters showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969” NASA
Global sea level: “rose 17cm in the last century, but in the last decade the rate doubled that of the last century”. NASA
Shrinking ice sheets: “ the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data shows that Greenland lost 36-60 cubic miles PER YEAR between 2002-2006, while Antarctica lost 36 cubic miles PER YEAR between 2002-2005. This shrinkage is accelerating” NASA
Reasonable extrapolations from current trends: “suggest that unchecked fossil fuel consumption will increase the risk of global flooding, droughts, severe storms, heat waves, food and water shortages” Scientific American
In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans. All impacts are likely to affect poor and disadvantaged communities first and most.
These changes, many aspects of which will continue for centuries, include :
- A decrease in cold temperature extremes, and increases in warm temperature extremes, extreme high sea levels and numbers of heavy precipitation events.
- Many species face increased risk of extinction beyond the 21st century. Most plant species cannot naturally shift their geographical ranges sufficiently fast to keep up with current and high projected rates of climate change; most small mammals and freshwater molluscs will not be able to keep up.
- Marine organisms face progressively lower oxygen levels, with coral reefs and polar ecosystems being highly vulnerable.
- Coastal systems and low-lying areas at risk of destruction by rises in sea levels.
- Large risks to food security from global temperature increases of 4°C or more above late 20th century levels, combined with increasing food demand
- The reduction of renewable surface water and groundwater resources in most dry subtropical regions
- The exacerbation of health problems and, by 2100, the limitation of common human activities, including growing food and working outdoors.
- In urban areas climate change is projected to increase risks for people, assets, economies and ecosystems, including risks from heat stress, storms and extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, landslides, air pollution, drought, water scarcity, sea level rise and storm surges.
- Rural areas are expected to experience major impacts on water availability and supply, food security, infrastructure and agricultural incomes, including shifts in the production areas of food and non-food crops around the world.
- The Guarani people were the first to demonstrate the importance of resistance to Madoka and Fumiko. Their land has been stolen and used by illegal loggers who have exploited the people as forced labour, creating endemic poverty. A sweetener developed from their native plant, stevia rebaudiana, has been used by global corporations to make enormous profits, none of which have returned to source. Legal moves are beginning to obtain financial redress for the Guarani.
- In Ecuador, they meet the Kichwa, an ethnic sub group of the Quechua people, who have recently regained communal land titles after many years of struggle, successfully resisting the expropriation of the rain forest for petroleum recovery.
- In North Dakota they meet leaders of The Standing Rock Great Sioux tribe. They learn that the tribe’s opposition to the passage of the North Dakota access oil pipeline under Lake Oehe stems from the threat to the purity of their water supply. A huge protest attracted global funding and support. In the winter of 2016-17, the protest continued through harsh conditions as an attempt to protect the water supply when pipeline construction resumed.
- In Southern Russia and Norway the Saami are fighting for the survival of the reindeer and their culture. They sent speakers to the International indigenous people’s forum which was a significant part of the Paris climate talks in 2016.
- Organising a Meeting for Worship for Witness on Pendle Hill, against fracking, which has been licensed in that area.
- Taking part in a ‘flash mob die-in’ organised by Reclaim the Power at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2, to protest against airport expansion.
- Cutting through a fence at Heathrow Airport and creating a human chain on a runway to oppose airport expansion.
- Spending three days at a Reclaim the Power action camp at Didcot power station in Oxfordshire.
- In Britain agreeing that centrally-held funds should not be invested in fossil fuel extraction companies, and that existing investments in these companies should be sold.
- In Philadelphia, campaigning successfully to end the PNC bank’s involvement in mountaintop removal coal mining.
- In the UK, holding Meetings for Worship in the British Museum to draw attention to its funding by the oil company, BP, and calling on the museum to drop the funding.
- In Oxford, working with Fossil Free Oxfordshire to try to persuade the County Council Pension fund to divest from fossil fuel extraction companies.
And, no doubt, much more!
Love and Hope
These two universal motives are inextricably linked and Madoka and Fumiko learnt a lot about the importance of fostering both. When they returned home they settled in with other people working to keep these motives alive. Around the world ordinary people are starting to do things differently.
- Farmers are changing the way they think. Grazing animals on uncut grass and promoting pasture land holds carbon in the soil and maintains fertility without the need to use chemical fertilisers and cereals for feeding.
- Transport companies are urgently exploring alternative energies to keep buses moving people around without pollution in cities.
- Collectives selling locally grown food are springing up as alternatives to supermarket shopping.
- Transition towns are building healthy co-operatives, encouraging community harvesting of garden produce and exploring the use of local currencies.
- Architects and builders are piloting innovative, cheap and sustainable construction methods for house building, where small is the new beautiful.
We invite you to add to the list