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Earth Day, or else!

Happy Earth Day! Spring has sprung in my neck of the woods, and it is beautiful! Fruit trees are flowering, frogs are croaking, and cyclists are out in full force.

In honor of Earth Day, the media has decided to go on a scare-fest; what would happen if we all died?! Eek!

Actually, not to be anti-human, but I think some of the scenarios people are coming up with are pretty cool.

The History Channel is heavily promoting their series Life After People, which is mostly computer animation based off speculatory biological fiction, but boy is it fun to speculate. It was based off a mini-series they produced, and apparently it was so popular it became an entire season. It is perhaps a tad macabe, but definitely drenched in biology, geology, chemistry, and all those other fun natural phenomena that get buried in science textbooks.

Along the same vein, Alexis Rockman has painted several “psychedelic” images of what the world will look like after we’re gone. Titled Half-life, it recently closed at New York City’s Nyehaus gallery. Most of the paintings show mutated bugs, flowers, and bunnies, alluding somewhat to why humans are no longer around. According to Seed Magazine,

“Rockman is best known for his 2004 mural at the Brooklyn Museum, Manifest Destiny, which painstakingly depicts how global warming will capsize Manhattan and destroy civilization within 300 years.”

This guy is definitely pro-environment. Here’s hoping the future’s bright, but not so bright we gotta wear shades.

Gerbera Daisy, by Alexis Rockman
Gerbera Daisy, by Alexis Rockman

Not to make you feel like you’re being beaten over the head with this stuff, but there’s also a feature on artist Chris Jordan on National Geographic showing off his work. This particular series, in honor of Earth Day, is called Running the Numbers II, and features a series a series that visualizes the massive, difficult-to-imagine numbers of the world’s consumption and waste.

The series visualizes the massive, difficult-to-imagine numbers of the world’s consumption and waste. His earlier Running the Numbers, now a book, showed U.S.-only statistics, such as the number of cups used on airplane flights every hour (reportedly a million) and the number of breast augmentations performed (32,000 monthly, Jordan says). The sequel covers global statistics, as in these images on threats to the marine life.

Gyre, by Chris Jordan
Gyre, by Chris Jordan

Now go out there and hug a tree!



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

2 thoughts on “Earth Day, or else!

  1. I recently read an interesting book which Alexis Rockman not only illustrated but was one of the main characters. It’s called “Carnivorous Nights–on the Trail of the Tasmanian Tiger.”
    There is one section in which Rockman freaks out when he see some dandelions in Tasmania….very psychedelic indeed.

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