Technological solutions to climate change have so far focused on the carbon footprint of consumers and corporations in the industrial North. Yet if we look at where a large part of the world still lives – in rural areas in Africa, Asia and South America – most people are too poor to be consumers. Their footprint is that of production, not consumption. They are farmers who grow plants and trees for their livelihood into which carbon dioxide becomes sequestered in complex and often yet unaccounted ways. These hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers across Africa, Asia and South America represent a significant force in our battle against climate change. Yet if plants and trees are the “lungs of the planet,” attempts to include them – both in the compliance and voluntary offset markets – have not been successful. The current system is in shambles.
Based on previous research done in Ethiopia, this art provocation challenges our common sense notion of what climate change is by creating an imaginary stock market based on growth patterns of trees in the developing world combined with economic algorithms on which stock market relies on. The participants of the projects then – similar to the real stock market – speculate on the monetary “benefits” of growing trees based on this data, including how it can be processed into a new language of commerce and interaction between humans and trees. The end result is an open-ended game of buying and selling carbon dioxide and oxygen, dealt by a croupier in a real life casino, situated in an ambiguous container hidden in a clearing in Galloway Forrest Park in Scotland, 300 square miles of diverse landscape. This shows the importance of everyday natural objects such as trees when we talk about climate change and the planets future.
- Shabina Aslam, Ankur Productions, United Kingdom
- Matti Pohjonen, Researcher and Visual Artist, United Kingdom