The writing is on the wall, and its counting down to zero.
Red digits of “The Passage” visible from Union Square in New York City once showed passersby the time of day, and how much was left in it. In mid-September, the clock took on a more urgent measurement, counting down to the point of no return.
According to CBS News, climate activists Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd reformatted “The Passage” to display the years, days, hours, minutes and seconds left before global warming moves our planet’s mean temperature 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial average. This measurement, as discussed in the Paris Climate Agreement, is effectively a point of no return.
If the Earth’s average temperatures increase more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, we could see environmental crises like food shortages, drought, and floods on an unprecedented scale.
As the clock shows now, that gives us just over 7 years.
“You can’t negotiate with reality,” Boyd said. “You can’t negotiate with science. Scientists are telling us that the next seven years are crucial to the fate of the Earth and to humanity.”
Seven years is not a very long time to make such drastic changes, but it’s evident that humanity has no other choice but to take the climate crisis seriously if it is to be addressed at all.
“Our hope is for this clock to be a beacon to galvanize climate action,” Golan said.
For at least the next seven years, the climate clock will remain in place in New York City, through Golan and Boyd intend to help install similar clocks in other cities around the world
“We believe that having these monumental clocks visible in public squares across the world, and smaller ones in universities and classrooms and corporate lobbies, all showing the same number, can get us all on the same page,” Golan said. “We need for everyone in the world to ‘synchronize our watches.'”
The Climate Clock is more than just a piece of art for Golan and Boyd. And it’s more than a terse warning of the end of days. The pair see the urgency in the climate crisis, and understand it will impact those who follow them far more.
“My daughter would still not yet be a teenager and we have already decided the fate of her world for her,” Golan said. “Those two events happening side by side grounded me in a whole different way, and gave this scientific number a deep personal meaning to me. I felt I wanted to shout this number from the top of every building. This project became my way of doing that.”
Check out ClimateClock.world to see where the clock sits at any time of day, and keep reading The Rainforest Site for information and tips to help flight climate change.
“Our planet has a deadline,” Boyd said. “But we can turn it into a lifeline.”
Learn more in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.